It is well-established that consuming a plant-based diet is more energy efficient than eating a diet heavy in animal products, and many current veg*ns cite this fact as one of the reasons that they stopped eating meat. While this is obviously a very important way of reducing our impact on the environment, recently people have become concerned not just about what they eat, but where it comes from. The NCVA has received inquiries regarding the local food movement, and it seems that some people think that “herbivore” and “locavore” are mutually exclusive. In reality, it is surprisingly easy to find a wide variety of locally-sourced vegan food. This section of our website describes several simple ways of including more local food in your diet, with an emphasis on high-protein foods. This compilation is far from complete, however, so if you feel that we missed anything that deserves a mention here, please let us know!
Grow Your Own
If you want to eat locally, it’s hard to do better than growing food in your own backyard! The Ottawa Horticultural Society has articles on growing edible and ornamental plants. Not everyone has a yard, much less one suitable for growing food, which is one of the reason there are so many Community Gardens in Ottawa. When you purchase a plot at a community garden, it is yours to grow and harvest food from for the year.
Identifying Locally Sourced Food
The Savour Ottawa brand provides you with instant recognition for local agricultural products. When you see the Savour Ottawa logo at farmers’ markets or retail grocery stores, this means that the product or establishment with the logo has undergone a verification process to ensure that they are using local food in their products, or are a local producer.
Savour Ottawa’s “buy local region” includes the City of Ottawa and its neighbouring counties: Prescott Russell; Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry; Leeds & Grenville; Lanark; Renfrew; and Frontenac; and the Outaouais. This definition is based on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s geographic definition of local. Supporters of Savour Ottawa must operate within this “buy local region”
Direct From the Farm
Farmers’ markets are another excellent way to eat locally, while directly supporting farmers. There are several farmers’ markets to choose from in the National Capital Region. Some some vendors sell imported produce, so you may have to ask to be certain if it is local or not. Hours of operation may vary throughout the year.
Main Farmers’ Market, St. Paul’s University on Main Street
Only producers within a 100 mile radius in attendance. Open Saturdays from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, May 17 to September 27. Byward Market, 55 Byward Market Square Open daily from 6:00 am to 6:00pm, May to Thanksgiving weekend; or 7:00 am to 5:00 pm, mid October to April. Some food is not local.
Ottawa Farmers’ Market, Lansdowne Park, 1015 rue Bank St., Ottawa ON
Open Sundays from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm, May 4 to October 26; Thursdays 2:00 pm-7:00 pm, June 26 to October 30.
Ottawa Organic Farmers’ Market, Canada Care Building, Bank Street at Heron Road.
Open Saturdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, all year. Ottawa Parkdale Market, Parkdale Avenue at Wellington Street Open daily from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm, May to December. Some food is not local.
Other Markets near Ottawa:
Cumberland Farmers’ Market, 1115 Dunning Road, Cumberland Village, Ontario
Open Saturdays from 8:00 am to 1:30 pm, June 21 to Thanksgiving. Stittsville Farmers’ Market, Ottawa Waldorf School, 1 Goulbourn Sreet, Stittsville, Ontario Open Thursdays 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m, June 7th to Thanksgiving.
Carp Farmers’ Market, 3790 Carp Road, Carp, Ontario
Saturdays 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, Mothers’ days Saturday until the last Saturday in October.
Metcalfe Farmers’ Market, 8th Line Road, Metcalfe, Ontario
Open Saturdays 8:00 am to 12:00 pm, May 3 to
October 18. North Gower Farmers’ Market, 2155 Roger Stevens Drive, North Gower, Ontario Open Saturdays 8:30am to 1:00pm, May 26 to Thanksgiving weekend. Almost everything is organic (not certified).
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Farmers that participate in CSA receive a set fee from the consumer prior to the start of the growing season. In return, the consumer receives shares (fruits or vegetables), as a proportion of the farm’s productivity that year. Refer to the Ontario CSA Directory to locate CSA farms in the Ottawa area.
If you are too busy to spend the time looking for organic produce, there are a number of farms and organizations that will deliver right to your door, generally on a weekly basis. The contents of each week’s box varies based on seasonal availability.
- Bryson Farms: certified organic heirloom vegetables, delivered weekly.
- Life Organic: Organic fruit and vegetables delivered weekly.
- Notre Petite Ferme | Our Little Farm : Organic produce available for weekly or bi-weekly pickup at several location around the city.
- Ottawa Organics: Organic produce, legumes, bread, and processed food, delivered weekly.
- Organics Delivered: Organic fruits and vegetables delivered weekly.
- Ottawa Good Food Box: Non-profit, community-based organization that delivers fresh fruits and vegetables at wholesale prices, once per month.
Farm Gate Sales
Many farms allow consumers to make purchases directly from their farm. Just Food’s Ottawa Buy Local Food Guide provides a directory of Gate Farms in the Ottawa area. Canadian Organic Growers provides a list of organic farmers near Ottawa, with additional information, such as which farms participate in Community Supported Agriculture, gate sales, home delivery, and mail order.
Pick Your Own
Some farms let you drop in and pick your own fruits or vegetables to take home. Pick Your Own is a directory of such “U-Pick” farms around the world, with many listings in the Ottawa area.
At the Grocery Store
While growing your own food and visiting farmers’ markets are among the best ways to be certain of where your food is coming from, that isn’t to say that you can’t find food grown close to home at your supermarket as well. Produce generally idicates where the product was grown on a sticker or tag, so paying attention to such labels is a simple and obvious way to identify locally grown food. However, it’s also useful to have a general idea of what is in season at any given month, so you can plan before making your shopping list. The following table summarizes the availability of common fruits and vegetables grown in Ontario, throughout the year.
Ontario Fruits and Vegetables Availability Guide
|Beans – Green/Wax||X||X||X||X||X|
|Cucumber – Field||X||X||X||X||X|
|Cucumber – Greenhouse||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Currants – Red/Black||X||X|
|Lettuce – Assorted||X||X||X||X||X|
|Lettuce , Greenhouse||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Onions – Green||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Onions – Cooking||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Onions – Spanish/Red||X||X||X||X|
|Peas – Green||X||X|
|Peas – Snow||X||X||X||X|
|Peppers – Field||X||X||X||X|
|Peppers – Greenhouse||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Strawberries – Day Neutral||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Tomatoes – Field||X||X||X||X|
|Tomatoes – Greenhouse||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
Note: Availability dates may change by several weeks with respect to rare varieties and/or weather conditions. It is worth noting that fresh mushrooms are nearly always grown locally indoors in major city centres, so they are a good choice for locavores, year round. White button mushrooms, while low in calories, are a surprisingly good source of protein (around 10%).
Local Vegan Protein Sources
Ottawa Area Producers
As you have seen, it is easy to find fresh fruits and vegetables grown near you. Foods higher in protein are often processed, however, and thus more likely to travel long distances to your grocery store. However, there are still a number of options to choose from, when considering local high-protein food sources.
- Noble Bean Tempeh headquarters are located less than 100 km from Ottawa, and processes locally grown soybeans to make their tempeh. Noble Bean offers four different tempeh varieties, in addition to their tempeh burger.
- La Soyarie grows their soybeans near Inkerman, Ontario, and processes them to make tofu in Gatineau, Quebec.
- Cool Hemp is an Ontario-based company that uses local, organically grown hempseeds for their products.
- Natur-a produces soy milk and vegan frozen desserts, made from Ontario-grown organic soybeans.
Although products must state the country of manufacture, they are rarely any more specific than that. Considering how large Canada is, this is not particularly useful information when trying to decide how far a product has travelled to reach the shelves of a grocery store. However, some products are more likely to originate from Ontario than others, which may be useful to keep in mind when choosing what to buy. This is especially true for beans, since different varieties may be interchangeable in recipes. Although Ontario obviously covers a fairly large area itself, it is fortunate for locavores in Ottawa that most of the land used to grow these crops is located in the southern portion of the province. Ontario produces several varieties of beans, including white pea, cranberry, black, dark red kidney, and light red kidney beans. In particular, Ontario produces 70% of Canada’s total soybean crops, while Quebec contributes 19%. White beans are also mainly grown in Ontario (77% of Canadian production). If you want a variety of bean that is not grown in Ontario, yet you are concerned about the energy required to transport them over vast distances, you may wish to consider buying bulk dried beans instead of canned beans. Dry beans weigh 40% of fresh or rehydrated beans, and if the weight of the can and additional liquid are considered, it is clear that dried beans are far more efficient to transport.
Wheat is also a good source of protein, and wheat gluten (the protein found in wheat) can be used to make seitan and many processed mock meat products. While only 9% of all wheat is produced in Ontario, the vast majority (66%) of winter wheat is produced in the province. Since hard winter wheat is highest in gluten, this is generally the type used in producing gluten flour. Thus, Canadian brands of gluten flour are likely to be composed of mostly Ontario winter wheat. Purely Bulk is an example of a company that produces wheat gluten flour made from western Canadian winter wheat.
It can be difficult to consume locally-produced food when eating out, since restaurants generally don’t advertise where their ingredients are from. However, there are a growing number of restaurants that endeavour to include as many local ingredients as feasible.
- Zen Kitchen, 634 Somerset Street West. Gourmet vegan restaurant. Organic and local where possible, with menu changes throughout the year to reflect seasonal availability of produce.
- The Garden Spot: Volunteer-run, pay-what-you-can vegan kitchen at Carleton University (426 Unicentre). Although they do have their own small garden plot, most of their ingredients are donated by grocery stores, which would otherwise discard produce that they are unable to sell.
- Domus Cafe, 87 Murray Street. Canadian regional & seasonal cuisine. Menu highlights direct purchases from local organic producers. Omnivorous, although the lunch menu has a couple vegetarian (not vegan) options.
- The Wellington, 1325 Wellington Street. British-style gastropub, serves local brews and food sourced from suppliers in the Ottawa region, when possibl
- Les Fougeres, 783 route 105, Chelsea, Quebec. Focuses on regional produce, with separate vegetarian menu.
- Perfection Satisfaction Promise, 167 Laurier Avenue East. Vegetarian and vegan fare with local organic produce wherever possible.
- The Pantry Vegetarian Tea Room, Glebe Community Centre, 690 Lyon Street. Open for lunch on weekdays, the menu is mostly vegetarian. Effort is made to provide organic, local and gluten free choices.
- Green Door Restaurant, 198 Main Street. Features organic, vegetarian and locally grown and produced foods.
Canadian = Local?
Keep in mind that the best choice for local food might not actually come from within Canada, when the product in question is not available from southern Ontario. For example, New York state is just under 100km from Ottawa, whereas Manitoba is over 2000km away. Althought it’s obviously unrealistic to carry an atlas to the grocery store, it is worth keeping in mind that Canada covers a vast area, and just because something is grown in the country, does not mean it must be “local.” Conversely, just because something is grown in the USA, does not mean that it must have travelled vast distances to reach your plate.
If you want to get more involved in the local food movement and meet other like-minded individuals, it may be worth your while to join one of Ottawa’s online communities focused on sustainability at the local level. Many of these sites focus on local food as one of many steps towards sustainability. Ottawa Groups:
- Transition Ottawa: Meet others working towards a sustainable and self-reliant way of living. Part of the ‘Transition’ network.
- Just Food: Information on food security, workshops, community gardens, and more.
- Sustainable Living Ottawa West: A network in the west end of Ottawa discovering ways to live in an environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling way.
- Sustainable Living Ottawa East: Helps plan, develop, network, and fundraise for projects that support their vision of a sustainable Ottawa East.
- Kanata Environmental Network: Shares information about practical, ecologically-friendly solutions with Kanata residents, to work towards a green and healthy future.
- Peace and Environment Resource Centre: Publishes free newspaper (PERC), and provides information on local peace, environment, and social justice issues.
- The Ottawa We Want Wiki: Online collaboration for residents of Ottawa who share an interest in envisioning and shaping the possibilities for the community they call home.
- Twitter – Go Local Ottawa: Subscribe and keep up-to-date on various issues and events relevant to local food in Ottawa.
- Savour Ottawa: Works to develop and promote Ottawa and area as a premier, year-round culinary destination, with robust offerings of local foods and experiences for both locals and visitors to the area.
- FoodNet Ontario: Province-wide network of organizations and individuals working together to create sustainable local food systems and achieve food security.
- FoodLand Ontario: Official Government of Ontario site, providing information on buying Ontario-produced food.
- Sustain Ontario: Cross-sectoral alliance that promotes healthy food and farming.
- Local Food Plus: Committed to creating local sustainable food systems that reduce reliance on fossil fuels, create meaningful jobs, and foster the preservation of farmland and farmers.
- Pick Your Own: Guide to locating farms that allow you to pick your own fruits or vegetables.
- The Locavore: Web site by Sarah Elton, author of Locavore.
- Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario: Workshops/courses, farm tours, newsletters, consulting, and other information pertaining to ecological farming.
- Canadian Organic Growers: Leading local and national communities towards sustainable organic stewardship of land, food and fibre while respecting nature, upholding social justice and protecting natural resources.
- Organic Council of Ontario: Membership-based, non-profit association representing the organic sector in Ontario at a provincial and national level.
- Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada: Information for farmers and consumers, including event listings for Ontario and a local organic food directory.
- Ontario CSA Directory: General information on Community Supported Agriculture and a directory of participating farms in Ontario.
- Ottawa Valley Food Co-operative: Networking project for local food producers and consumers, whereby local consumers can connect with and buy from local food producers.