Food for thought: Guide to fresh, local summer food

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The snow has finally melted and with that, we find ourselves looking at the best time of year to get fresh, local produce. We are lucky here in Ontario that between May and October we have access to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables grown here.

In this article, we will outline each month to let you know what's in season, but first we'll talk about the benefits of choosing locallysourced produce.

You may have heard of the "hundred mile diet," but if you haven't, the concept behind it is fairly simple: eating foods only produced from within one hundred miles of where you live. This is beneficial because it reduces the distance your food has to travel in order to get to your plate.

When eating, many people forget or lose perspective on where their food comes from because they are so removed from the process. Buying local is one way to get a better understanding of where and how your food is produced.

In addition, buying local supports our farmers. When you buy direct from the farmer, they are able to keep most of the profits rather than paying a distributor to sell their food. Finally, you know the food you're buying is fresh and often organic.

Here is a basic rundown of the growing seasons in Ontario. We have listed each item under the month that it becomes available. Most seasons run at least two months:

May:
Asparagus, Radishes, Spinach, Strawberries

June:
Green Beans, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Lettuce, Green Onions, Snow Peas, Green Peas, Cherries

July:
Celery, Corn, Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, Zucchini, Apricots, Blueberries, Gooseberries, Peaches, Plums, Raspberries, Watermelons

August:
Grapes, Apples, Eggplant, Artichokes, Pears

This list is obviously not exhaustive, but it contains many of the most popular fruits and vegetables. Check out the Foodland Ontario website (foodland.gov.on.ca) for more detailed information.

You have a few options when it comes to purchasing farm fresh produce. Many farms sell their products on-site, but most likely you will go to a farmer's market. There are numerous farmer's markets in and around London (Trails End, Gibraltar Weekend Market, London Farmer's Market at Masonville Place), but if you are leaving to go home for the summer somewhere else in Ontario, then we would highly recommend checking out the Farmers' Markets Ontario website at farmersmarketsontario. com. The site lists various farmers' markets across Ontario, including locations and hours of operation.

If you want further information about Ontario produce in general, visit foodland.gov.on.ca. This site features profiles on the various types of produce grown in Ontario, detailed availability information and even recipes that use Ontario produce. All of these resources will help you incorporate more local produce into your diet in a manner that is convenient and simple.

Finally, just a quick note: it has been a wonderful experience writing Food for Thought this year. Mark and I learned a lot and we hope you all learned something too. Good luck on exams and have a great summer. Happy eating!

Got questions, comments or suggestions? Feel free to e-mail us at foodforthoughtfc@gmail.com