May 30, 2019
Summer will officially arrive later this month (hooray!!!!)
And after what has felt like a never ending winter and an especially soggy spring, I am beyond excited to welcome the warm weather and start soaking up that Vitamin D.
One of my favourite things about the arrival of summer is the return of the local farmer’s markets. Spring and summer in Ontario are amazing growing seasons for our local farmers and there is no better place to showcase all our lovely local treasures than at your neighbourhood farmer’s market.
There, you will surely find a wide assortment of flavourful fruits, vegetables, herbs as well as local meats, eggs, dairy, fish, legumes and even wines, preserves and honey. These items have for the most part been freshly picked, locally grown or lovingly prepared.
What I love about the farmer’s market (aside from the delicious finds) is the interaction I have with the local vendors. They are wealth of knowledge when it comes to trying new or less common crops, they are often more than happy to suggest ways to prepare different foods and they have excellent insight into optimal storage or cooking methods for each of their delicious treats. If you are thinking of growing your own vegetables, fruits or herbs, they can also help offer some tips to make your garden a great success. I also love that I can buy foods in the quantities that I want and need, rather than in predetermined amounts. This helps save money and reduces waste. So whether it’s a single zucchini or 5 pints of field blueberries (to freeze and enjoy year round), I buy only what I need and have a plan for.
There are so many wonderful advantages to buying local and seasonal produce:
– Their freshness and amazing taste are hard to beat. Because foods are picked at their peak and have traveled fewer kilometers from farm to grocery/market, their flavour is strikingly intense and they will last longer
– Buying local and in season is a great way to save money on grocery bills
– The benefits of supporting our local farmers, vendors and economy is a win-win for everyone
– A reduction in greenhouse gases is an important environmental benefits
Here are a few fruits and vegetables to look out for in the coming months.
Seasonal Crops in June and July (according to Foodland Ontario)
Green and yellow beans
Corn Field cucumbers
Peas (green and snow)
Looking for a fun activity for the whole family?
Why not visit a pick-your-own farm and fill a basket (or many) with bright tomatoes, cherries, peppers, peaches, berries or apples.
Wanting to eat local year-round?
Try freezing or canning fruits and vegetables you purchase in season. For more information and tips to get started with home canning, check out the Home Canning Guide at www.unlockfood.ca
Looking for a local recipe to get started?
Why not kick start the day with some high fibre oats topped with strawberry rhubarb compote made with Ontario fruits and honey (see recipe on our blog below).
So while you are visiting your neighbourhood farmer’s market this weekend, or the next time you are perusing the aisles at your grocery store, be sure to take an extra moment to look for fruits and vegetables grown locally and be sure to savour each and every delicious bite.
Registered Dietitian, CDE
Foodland Ontario Availability Guide https://www.ontario.ca/foodland/page/availability-guide
Ontario Strawberry Rhubarb Compote over Overnight Oats
Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
• 2 cups (500 mL) chopped Ontario rhubarb (1/2 inch pieces)
• ¼ cup (60 mL) Ontario honey
• 1 tbsp (15 mL) water
• 2 cups (500 mL) thick sliced Ontario strawberries
• 1 tsp (5 mL) grated orange rind
• ½ tsp (2 mL) vanilla
1. In medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, honey and water; bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
2. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is tender. Stir in strawberries, orange rind and vanilla. Turn heat off, cover and let stand 5 minutes.
• ½ cup (125 mL) 2% milk OR unsweetened almond/cashew or coconut milk
• ½ cup (125 mL) Old fashioned rolled oats
• ½ cup (125 mL) 2% Plain Greek yogurt
• ½ Banana, mashed
• 1 tbsp. (15 mL) chia seeds
1. Add the milk, oats, yogurt, banana and chia seeds to a jar or container and give them a good stir.
2. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 5 hours.
3. In the morning, top oats with 2 tbsp. of the strawberry rhubarb compote and other toppings of your choice (we suggest some sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds or shredded coconut).
Strawberry Rhubarb Compote recipe adapted from Foodland Ontario Recipes.