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Sharing The Good

Think of strawberries. Big, ripe, locally-grown strawberries picked so recently they are still warm from the sun shining on their fields. Now think of hundreds of those red beauties lined up waiting to be savoured, their sweet fresh smell wafting on the spring breeze….

That is exactly what I faced at work last week. Some days I really love my job, and last Tuesday was one of those days.  I hung out worked with my Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs peeps at the Foodland Ontario Queen’s Park Farmers Market.

The Queen’s Park Market is an annual event that just recognized its 6th year of celebrating Ontario foods and reminding people to "Share the Good" and buy local when they head out for groceries.  Local food advocate and author Lynn Ogryzlo and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ted McMeekin opened the market and joined over 500 people in experiencing the tastes of the province.

Seriously – it’s days like those that keep me coming back to work.  Being an event and exhibit person is a blast.  I spent the day networking with reps from farm organizations, helping with the market set-up and held up a backdrop during speeches and photos to make sure it didn't blow over on anyones head.  Really.  It's all the "behind-the- curtain" stuff around a big event that is really fun for me.

But this event holds special appeal for more than the cool exhibit stuff.  Why? I really believe in the importance of supporting our farmers and buying local food.  And the Queen's Park Market Event is a nice kick-off to our prime local food season.

We had friends from organizations representing farmers from across the province handing out samples, telling their stories and showing people how great our Ontario food looks, tastes and smells.

Need fruit and veggies? Buy local.  Need eggs, beef, poultry or pork? Buy local.  Need flowers to brighten your home? Buy local.  Need ice cream? Of course you do! Buy local.

You get the idea.

You may not have made it to Queen's Park this year.  But you can still totally get in on this whole buy local stuff.  It’s easy.  Head to a farmers market or grocery store and look for the Foodland Ontario logo. If you’re not sure what the logo looks like, check it out here:

While you’re at it, take a look at the Foodland availability guide.  It tells you what is in season at the very moment your going shopping, which is a very cool resource.

And don't forget to check out their recipes. There are hundreds of them showing you easy, but oh-so-delicious ways to prepare all of that awesome local food.  I'm not much of a cook, but I've made a bunch of the Foodland recipes with great success. (I've even used them for potlucks and guests!)

You can also stop at an on-farm market and get your goods right from the farmer.  Really! How many times have you driven in a rural area and seen the produce stands or market stores right there at the end of a farm lane? And how many times have you stopped? Do it. It’s totally worth it.  If you're into preplanning your stops, check out the Ontario Farm Fresh website to find farms to visit.

In fact, make a point while you’re heading to the cottage or a campground to pick up some fresh food straight from the farm.  It’s a great way to get a taste of Ontario that may not be grown in the same region as your home.  There's just something awesome about eating freshly picked food surrounded by the great outdoors.  On one camping trip last year, I bought watermelon from a farmer just outside of Long Point Provincial Park.  Guess what….

Best. Watermelon. EVER.

We're heading back to Long Point this year. You can bet I'll be stopping to buy watermelon again. And probably a few other fresh Ontario items.  In fact, we'll be stopping at farm markets across the province as we head to a number of different provincial parks this summer.

Mmmmm.... Camping. Local food. Summer. Does it get much better than that?

Hey - if you have a fave place to stop for awesome Ontario food goodness let me know! 

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