Although my two year old son still says ‘I need mitts mama’ every time we leave the house, two weeks ago I decided it was time to clean out my front hall cupboard and finally put those mitts away! I filled a large box full of snowsuits, hats, mitts, boots, and scarves, labeled it ‘winter stuff’, and stored it in the basement out of sight. With summer just around the corner and weather that feels like mid-July already upon us, it’s time to also put some of those imported, far-traveled, potentially less nutrient dense, fruits and vegetables out of sight and finally rejoice in the seasonality of local Ontario fruits and vegetables.
Although many conventional grocery stores stock plenty of ‘Product of Ontario’ fruits and vegetables during our warmer months, there is something to be said for getting back to nature and shopping at local farms and farmers markets. I love shopping at local farms, not only because it feels good to support our farmers, but also because I can take comfort in the quality of my produce. Add to that the experience my kids get to have feeding the animals, watching and riding the wagons, and sometimes even helping to pick their own food – It’s a win-win experience. Last week my heart melted when my 10-month-old baby spent what felt like an hour watching newly hatched baby chickens in their pen.
There are plenty of options for local shopping in York Region. If you live outside of York Region, or are traveling throughout our beautiful province there are a number of Ontario based websites that can point you in the right direction.
If you have always wanted to get out there but weren’t sure where to start this list should help get you going.
Forsythe Family Farms – www.forsythefamilyfarms.com
10539 Kennedy Road, Markham
- This farm is a personal favourite of mine. Their own brand of honey, made right on their farm, is to die for (the best honey I have ever had), their produce is exceptional quality, they have fresh eggs and baking, and there are plenty of things to do with the entire family (you can even buy a seasons pass!).
Beretta Organics – www.berettaorganics.com
4400 15th Side Rd, King City
- The quality of Beretta meat is exceptional. You can pick up your order directly from the farm in King City on Tuesday evenings between 4pm and 7pm, or you can have it delivered to your home. Delivery orders must meet a minimum of $300.00 but pick up orders do not have a minimum.
Whittamore’s Farm – www.whittamoresfarm.com
8100 Steeles Ave. East, Markham
- Lots of fresh picked fruits and vegetables (some with a pick your own option) and tons of farm fun activities for the kiddies. They also offer seasons passes and even have barnyard birthday bashes!
Reesor Farm Market – www.reesorfarm.com
10825 Ninth Line, Markham
- Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, some with a pick your own option.
York Farmers Marketing Ltd
7509 Yonge Street, Thornhill
The Village Market
Toronto Waldorf School, 9100 Bathurst Street, Thornhill
Markham Farmers’ Market
132 Robinson St. Markham
Aurora Farmers Market
Aurora Town Park, Wells St. Aurora
Newmarket Farmers’ Market
Timothy Street just east of Main Street, Newmarket
Unionville Silver Mill Farmers’ Market
Station Lane, Unionville
Because I have just scratched the surface of local farms and farmers markets in the York Region area, the following resources may come in handy to find additional farms and markets closer to your location in Ontario. Many also contain ‘What’s in Season’ guides that confirm the best times to get out and shop for your favourite fruits and vegetables.
Local vs Organic
Finally, it’s important to remember that the terms ‘local’ and ‘organic’ do not mean the same thing. If you are concerned with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers be sure to ask your local farmer if they use them on their produce. You may want to consider this list published by EatRight Ontario (http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Farming-Food-production/Organic-Foods-and-Growing-Methods-FAQ.aspx), which confirms the top 12 fruits and vegetables that have been shown to have the highest number of pesticides when not grown and harvested using organic methods. Perhaps you may want to consider the organic versions of these foods…
- Sweet bell peppers
- Imported grapes
Enjoy the warm weather, try to visit your local markets, and consider sharing your favourite markets and farms in the comments section of this post!
About the Author
Allison Jorgens is the author of the book ‘Read It with a Grain of Salt – The Truth about Canadian Food Labels from an Industry Insider’. She is a home economist holding a degree in nutritional sciences and has been working as a food label specialist for grocers and food manufactures in Canada for nearly a decade. As a concerned parent and advocate of leading a healthful lifestyle, Allison recommends that all responsible consumers empower themselves with the knowledge needed to make more healthful and informed choices.