Hide and Seek: Local Produce

Trying to understand where to find local produce can feel like a game of hide and seek. 

What is local, what isn't? 

Is there only one place to find local produce? Not so! Our amazing farmers/growers manage to supply us with local, fresh produce in a variety of places - and maybe in some places you wouldn't expect.

So gear up for a game of local produce hide-and-seek.

Ready or not, here we come!

The Farmers’ Market

The farmers’ market is probably the first place you'd think of, right? One of the easiest ways to get connected with local farmers and find their produce is at the farmers’ markets. Strike up a conversation with the seller if you can to ask whether they grow their produce, or where they got it. Fresh produce runs abundant during the summer months and into the fall, but some farmers’ markets run year-round. Thanks to cold-storage and hydroponics you can still find locally-sourced fruits, veggies, and even roots and herbs through the winter months.

All Ontario farmers’ markets_ Find a Farmers Market - Directory

The Grocery Store

Produce is an easy find at grocery stores, but this round of hide-and-seek is a little trickier, as local produce might be side-by-side with produce from around the world. Here are some tips to distinguish between the two, and find produce from closer to home_

  1. Choose independent grocery stores over large chains, they are more likely to carry local produce.

  2. know what is in season, these items are more likely to be from local sources. For a list of what is in season year-round, check out Foodland Ontario’s link here_ Foodland - Availability Guide

  3. Look for the Foodland Ontario Label. A number of large grocery stores in Ontario recognize and use this label, which helps you to know what is grown in Ontario! To learn more about the criteria for this label, visit the website here_ Foodland - Finding Local

  4. Lastly, ask! Grocers should be able to tell you what products are locally sourced or shipped in from farther away.

Roadside Stalls
If you're able to make it out to the country, farmers will often have roadside stands that sell their produce. A bonus of this option_ a chance to get a view of the farm - and where your produce is coming from!
For a fun interactive map of some roadside stalls (also called Farm Gates) in the Waterloo area, click the link_ Farm Gates in Waterloo Region

Local Restaurants

The game of hide-and-seek becomes a little more creative with this one, but I promise it's just as fun. Many restaurants partner with local farmers and growers to supply them with fresh and delish ingredients for their menu. Restaurants will sometimes advertise their local 'roots' on their website or social media, but if not - once again it's your time to ask and find out! Similar to restaurants, independent chefs - sometimes for catering companies - can tap into their local ecosystem to source their food.

Borealis Grille and Bar

Cafe Pyrus

Underground Flavour Group

Breweries and Wineries

Wondering if this counts? Apart from grapes and grains grown by breweries and wineries themselves, some breweries and wineries will partner with local farms to use their fruit for flavored beer and wine. Nothing goes to waste, and it makes for delicious seasonal flavors. Follow the trail of local produce to the taproom, and pair your locally sourced drink with food - often the menu will let you know if they are also using local ingredients. 

Waterloo Brewing Co.

Bench Brewery

Boreal winery

That’s all for this round of hide-and-seek! How many of these have you found and bought before? If you haven’t already, check out the links for some specific ideas of where to go. 

You're it next!

If you know of other places local produce might be hiding, leave us a comment or a message.

We want to hear from you! 

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