Want to eat local? Try the BC Diet.

The word ‘diet’ isn’t typically a positive one, instead bringing to mind restrictive, uphill-battle type thoughts. ‘Local diet’, on the other hand, is totally positive! Recently, local eating has become a popular concept, propelled into public consciousness with the help of books like The 100 Mile Diet and movies like Food Inc. and Fast Food Nation, all of which advocate the benefits of local eating to our health, the environment and the local economy. This leaves many wondering how we can eat more locally. With summer fast approaching (and farmers markets popping up all over the place) we feel inspired to find out! In fact, let's call it a BC Diet. How difficult could it be to try to include seasonal food from BC for a week, a day, or even one meal? Let’s find out… 

Step 1:  Start at your local grocery store. Take a pen and paper and make it a fun, family mission to find out where the eggs, milk, meat and produce come from. Are they from BC, elsewhere in Canada, the US or overseas? Take notes. Some stores like the IGA label where the produce and meat are grown. Others don’t, but you can ask staff and find out. Get your kids involved! Can you find pasta or grains from BC? If your neighborhood has a few different grocery stores nearby, try going to several and jot down where you can find the groceries you need, from BC.

Back at the ranch (aka at family dinner that night) discuss how successful you were in finding BC foods. Ask around the table: what are some of the things your family simply can’t live without, but are actually coming from far, far away? What meals would be relatively easy for your family to make entirely from BC foods? Which would be more difficult? Did you notice if your grocer stocks products that are readily available in BC yet they are imported from elsewhere (apples come to mind)? In the interest of developing a local eating consciousness, investigate and discuss these types of issues as a family and give everyone a chance to weigh in. Let us know what you talked about here or on our Facebook page.

Step 2: Take a family trip to your local farmers market. Chances are, whatever BC products you can’t find at the grocery store, you’ll have better luck finding here. Farmers markets offer a fun, fresh way to shop and they are located in virtually every corner of the province. To find the market nearest you, visit http://www.bcfarmersmarket.org/findamarket.asp.

Part of the fun of the farmers market is the wide variety of food available and the opportunity to meet the farmers themselves. Make this a stimulating outing for your kids by challenging them to locate never-before-seen produce, i.e. exotic mixed greens for salads or a new variety of potato. 

Local meats and cheeses are also typically featured at the farmers market so if you’re one of those people who wonder how the chicken, beef or pork you love to eat have been raised, here’s a great chance to ask the farmer herself!

Later at home, try this dinner conversation starter: What did your kids find the most interesting at the market? Was there anything your family was surprised to learn is grown in BC? While you’re at it, try a new recipe! Here’s our favourite summer salad:

Summer Salad:

Mixed greens
Arugula
Fresh tomatoes
Cucumber
Grated carrots
Local feta cheese
Dried cranberries 

Summer Dressing: 

4 parts Balsamic vinegar (several places in BC make this like the famous Venturi Schulze Vineyards) 
1 part Sesame oil or Tahini
1 part Maple syrup

Step 3: If the farmers market piqued your enthusiasm, why not pack up the family and head to the farm itself!

Here are a couple of links to help you find farms or orchards near you:
http://www.bcfarmfresh.com/farmlist.asp
http://www.bcfga.com/

A trip to a farm or orchard is a fabulous way to show your kids where and how produce or meat is actually grown or where milk comes from. Not to mention providing hours of stimulating conversation as a family (c’mon who wouldn’t want to know how cows are milked!)

Many orchards and farms offer a “you pick” in the summer months, so you can actually go and pick your own strawberries or blueberries or corn or peaches (you get the idea). Eating a blueberry from the bush, does it get much better than that?

OK, so you’ve done your due diligence. You know what BC products you can readily buy from your grocer. Maybe you’ve even discovered a few new shops in your area that carry a greater selection of local products. It’s go time. You’re ready to make a totally BC meal or maybe you’re all set to do our BC Diet for a month (heck, maybe you’re blogging about this). Let us know how it goes by posting your favourite BC meal here or on our Facebook page. Let’s inspire each other!

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