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Local, Farm Fresh Food vs Supermarkets

October 14, 2014

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When I first started thinking about this post, I wanted to look into how accessible farm fresh produce was in Toronto. How prevalent are farmers markets around the city? Well I soon found out that there are a lot more than I thought and they’re in all major hubs of Toronto, from the west end all the way to the east [1].

My initial interest was sparked by the announcement by Whole Foods that their Yorkville location is now open and their 6th Ontario store would be opening up in Ottawa soon. I instantly wondered what made Whole Foods so great? It certainly offers its consumers a healthier alternative for quick easy lunches and dinners, supports local suppliers and markets its food as Organic as much as possible.

As I continued to search through their website there was one major thing I didn’t like. They carry genetically modified foods. Stating that carrying GMO products is almost impossible to avoid in a lot of foods [2]. Genetically modified refers to foods whose genetic make-up has been altered in order to make it resistant to certain types of weather, pesticides, insects and the list goes on.

I wanted to look into the options I (or you) have if I didn’t want to buy foods that have been genetically modified. Maybe the problem is that we don’t necessarily need more large grocery chains moving in and marketing us organic food. Maybe what we need is an increasing interest in actual organic food from farmers markets in the city where the interaction between consumer and producer is much more commonplace. Not only does the interaction mean you can personally ask farmers about their products and inform yourself but you also support your local farm producers upfront instead of through the large grocery chains. Not that I have anything against Whole Foods but it appears to be just as easy in Toronto to find local small-scale farmers markets with foods just as wholesome!

Take a look at these products:

• Canola

• Corn

• Lentils

• Potatoes

• Rice

• Soybeans

• Squash

• Tomatoes

• Wheat [3]

Are any of them a staple in your diet? If you want to avoid GMO products than you can choose to leave them out of your diet altogether or be aware where they are coming from when buying them. It can be as simple as asking farmers at the market how they grow their crops, where and what kinds of seeds they use.

Be particularly aware of processed foods as the David Suzuki Foundation’s website notes “GMO ingredients have made their way into most of the processed foods available on Canadian grocery shelves”[4]. This is what Whole Foods is talking about when they say they can’t avoid GMO products in their stores… So another solution is to avoid processed foods altogether.

Another alternative to this is growing your own food. When buying seeds you can ensure that those seeds are not GMO. Growing your own food requires zero emissions to transport to your table and you know exactly where it’s coming from! Whole foods is a step in the right direction but I think we can take it a step further and support local, organic and GMO free farmers if we continue to inform ourselves. So look up the closest farmers markets to you and go check ‘em out, I promise you won’t regret it!

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/07/why-supermarkets-are-on-the-way-out-aldi-lidl?CMP=fb_gu

[2] http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/about-our-products/product-faq/gmos

[3] http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Food-technology/Biotechnology/Novel-foods/Understanding-Genetically-Modified-Foods.aspx#.VDg_fShpf5b

[4] http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/queen-of-green/faqs/food/understanding-gmo/

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