Ontario Table Holiday Challenge

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 AnnMarie Brown 0 Comments

I moved to Toronto from a small city in Southern Ontario where farms were just a few minutes away from my home. Upon moving to Toronto I wanted to continue our way of eating which includes buying local when it comes to all my purchases. I have always felt it important to support local farmers and businesses in our area. I would love to share some gift ideas for you to purchase in your area and help support local farms.

I had the privilege to head over to Dolce Lucano to taste some of their amazing Salumi. Dolce Lucano is owned by John and Paola Zagaria. John is a second generation butcher and hand crafter of the artisanal Prosciutto, Sopressata, Cacciatore, Capicollo, Pancetta and other cured, Italian-style gourmet meats. After spending over an hour with Paola and John in their store just before Christmas we had the pleasure of tasting many fine products while seated at their store at their 1950's style table. Have to say I love that table. I wonder if Paola would notice if it suddenly came home with me. My husband and I were more than pleased to find such a wonderful butcher so close to home, we will definitely be visiting again in the new year.

With only a few days left to finish up your last minute holiday purchases Farmers Feed Cities challenges Canadians to think local when purchasing last minute gifts. Named the 2012 Ontario Local Food Ambassador, Lynn Ogryzlo, author of The Ontario Table local cookbook created the Holiday Challenge:
"The average Ontario shopper intends to spend almost $700 on holiday gifting this year. If just $70 or 10 per cent of this was spent on edible gifts crafted from Ontario artisan producers, the economic impact would equate to $500 million extra dollars in our Ontario food system, supporting up to 10,000 food sector jobs."

Lynn Ogryzlo has partnered with Farmers Feed Cities to share her top five farm produced gift ideas and three steps to take to make the shopping local process seamless.

Top five local gift ideas

1) Canned goodies –Share the season’s harvest throughout the winter and give the gift of sweet and savoury preserves. Ontario has a variety of artisanal treats like habanero jelly, spicy pickled cauliflowers, candied garlic and more to match any hard to buy for taste buds! Check out The Bumper Crop in Toronto for an abundant selection of sweet jams, preserves, sauces and compots.

2) Cheesy delights – Ontario has a fantastic selection of cheeses hand-crafted from local ingredients. If you have a cheese connoisseur on your list, this is the perfect gift for them! Pick up creamy goat chevre produced near Peterborough at Crosswind Farm’s goat dairy and fromagerie. Better yet, give the gift of a farm tour to discover how cheese is made and even milk a goat!

3) Wines divine –Niagara is home to world class wines from stunning vineyards offering both divine local gifts and group experiences. For the one on your gift buying list that loves to entertain, they can wow the crowd with icewine as dessert, or as a starter with pate. For the health conscious wine lover, gift an organic bottle from Southbrook Vineyards along with a container of Bioflavia, the grape skin powder with incredible health properties.

4) Soy gourmet—Perfect for the chef on your list, give the gift of gourmet soybean, sunflower and canola oils and soy sauce while celebrating the 28,000 Ontario grain farmers. Visit Pristine Gourmet in Norfolk County for delicious products like Extra Virgin Soy Oil, Soy Sauce, flavoured vinegars, sparkling cider and edamame beans produced right from his fields.

5) Agriculture experiences—Ontario farmers open the field gates and barn doors to those looking to understand more about the food on their plate. Give the gift of time and discovery together and visit Spring Ridge Farm for family activities in Milton, wander the Savour Stratford Bacon and Ale Trail with friends in Perth County or enjoy a romantic afternoon at the Savour Muskoka field to fork event on August 12, 2013.

3 steps to buying local 

1) Research – Visit ontariofarmfresh.com for a listing of all on-farm markets in Ontario. Make a day out of it, bundle the kids up and let them experience life on the farm!

2) Read labels – Look for the Foodland Ontario logo when making your purchases, if buying wine look for VQA to guarantee products are from our province.

3) Practice patience – Stay committed, sometimes these options are hard to find but the majority of the food we eat has a locally sourced option.

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