By Nancy Jackson, AFCC – Credit Counselling Services of Peterborough
It seems like everyone I know is talking about gardening & food these days. From Victoria Day to Thanksgiving, and throughout the never long enough summer, Canadians celebrate with tasty, savory traditions! Picnics, back yard barbeques, camping, and corn roasts. Every gathering has a much anticipated summer flavor, and fortunately, many of those ‘can’t wait tastes’ are grown right here in Ontario. Locally grown foods are big on flavor and freshness but easy on budgets, and the savings can last well into our long Canadian winters.
Interest in home grown, home cooked foods is definitely growing, and with the cost of food rising, it is not surprising that people want to save money and grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs.
I have a friend who only has a small balcony but grows herbs and tiny tomatoes to enjoy in her salads all summer long. Even if you don’t have space, or time, you can enjoy fresh foods and save on your food bills by participating in community gardens, gleaning programs, helping neighbors or perhaps harvesting during area farms “pic your own” events. Even busy people can buy locally at farmer’s markets, road side stands or look for locally grown produce at your favorite grocery store.
The wonderful thing about summer is that the food can be purchased in large quantities, at reduced prices and prepared for winter by canning, freezing or drying. I know a family that had a bumper crop of tomatoes and peppers last year so they gathered their friends, a lot of onions and parsley, and made the best salsa I’ve ever tasted. Everyone took home mason jars full of savory summer flavors to enjoy in the darkest days of winter! And think of the money they saved! Stats Canada says that the average Ontario household spends 13.14% of their income on food. (source: CANSIM, table 203-0021) Growing or harvesting or even preparing your own food can be a healthy, rewarding and money saving activity. Visit some of these websites for inspiration.
http://www.harvestontario.com Harvest Ontario has a must see chart that tells you exactly what is being harvested every week throughout Ontario’s growing season
http://www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca Peterborough Public Unit links us to healthy eating information and resources such as Dietitians, eat healthy food trackers, nutrition information, safe food preparation and more!
http://nourishproject.ca A wonderful “home grown” website with links to tons of information on finding, growing and eating local foods. Learn more about community gardens, gleaning programs, growing your own or buying locally grown and/or prepared foods.
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca Visit the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to learn more about growing and selling food, and the wonderful variety of foods grown across Ontario. Lots of recipes too!
I hope you are armed with tons of info and inspiration to grow or prepare savory summer dishes for every occasion. Think fresh crisp salads, hot buttered corn and warm just-out-of-the-oven apple crisp. In a word…yummy! You will save money buying locally and save more all winter long with food you’ve prepared for winter consumption.
Now, if only we could grow “S’mores”….