Eating local foods is more important now than ever. It's a choice that has many great benefits, both for us and for those around us.
What does it means to “eat local”?
Eating local means giving preference to foods that are grown close to home, whether in our province or region, or even in our own gardens! It also means eating in a more responsible and respectful way that benefits not only the environment, but farmers as well. Eating locally grown food has positive impacts for consumers, producers and the environment.
We can take responsible eating a step further by gradually integrating organic and fair-trade foods in our daily menus.
Why choose local food?1. To discover the variety of foods grown close to home
Locally grown fruits and vegetables offer a freshness and quality that our taste buds crave. Just ask your kids – they’ll tell you that local strawberries taste way better!
We tend to forget that our farmland produces a huge variety of produce. You can even eat local fruits and vegetables throughout the winter thanks to preserving techniques such as freezing, canning and pickling. Learn how to preserve fruits and veggies (in French) and you can enjoy the great taste of locally grown produce all year round!
Giving pride of place on your plate to local foods is satisfying and enjoyable! There’s nothing better than cooking with seasonal produce from Quebec to strengthen our connection with the food we eat, while re-discovering forgotten vegetables that are a valuable part of our heritage. These include root veggies, beets, celery, rutabagas, turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, all kinds of squash and cabbage, not to mention onions, potatoes, leeks, carrots, etc.
When you eat local produce that’s in season, you get to enjoy your favourite fruits and vegetables when their flavour is at its peak. Check out the harvesting calendar to find out what’s in season on the shelves of your local grocers.2. For the exceptional freshness
Products grown for local consumption don’t have to travel long distances from the farm to your plate. That means they’re picked at peak ripeness, when they’re at their freshest.3. To support the local economy
When we eat locally grown food, we encourage the farmers in our region who grow and sell fresh, seasonal produce. In short food supply chains such as local farmers’ markets, farmers’ stands, and community-supported agriculture, there is no intermediary between the farmer and the consumer, which means more money ends up in the pockets of farmers. Local consumption is also a good way to inject money directly into the local economy, boosting its vitality.4. To preserve our farmland and agricultural expertise
By choosing locally grown food, we ensure dynamic land use while preserving our agricultural heritage, including the know-how of our farmers, crop diversity, the agricultural landscape, pride in our farms, etc. Eating local guarantees food sovereignty by prioritizing local farming and favouring local markets over exporting.5. To reduce the negative impacts of transportation
Most of the food on our shelves has travelled an average of 2,500 km to get there, despite the fact that there are over 29,000 farms right here in Quebec! By consuming seasonal food that’s grown close to home, we can reduce these distances and, by extension, the adverse impact of transportation on the environment.
To protect our environment even more, we can shop at local grocery stores, using active transportation to get there. If you have a long list of things to buy, you can plan ahead and get everything in a single outing to make your environmental footprint even smaller.6. To avoid overpackaged foods
Locally produced food doesn’t need to be overpackaged to make its way to our tables. This limits its environmental impact and reduces waste. It also cuts down on the amount of waste that winds up in landfills, which is especially important when we consider that each Canadian produces 706 kg of waste each year (1). By choosing to buy local and in bulk (for example, farmers’ baskets or open-air markets), you also help reduce the amount of plastic packaging polluting our environment. And that’s a good thing considering that 70% of packaging in Quebec originates in the food industry (2)!
Tips for cooking with local foods year round
Take inspiration from our recipes that use local products;
Check out the many tips on how to preserve the freshness of your foods and keep them longer (in French);
Learn more about the benefits of eating local frozen or canned vegetables;
Grow your own sprouts, even in small spaces;
Learn about the many options for eating local in every region of Quebec;
Explore Montreal’s offering of local food projects thanks to the web documentary Épluche ta ville (in French);
Read our guide on how to approach your local grocer to ask for more local products;
Sign up to receive a beautiful basket full of local and organic produce from a local farmer.
Try out some new recipes from these local cookbooks
Julian Amstrong, Made in Quebec: A Culinary Journey, 2014, HarperCollins
Joshua McFadden, Six seasons, A new way with vegetables, Artisan Books
Frederic Morin, David McMillan and Meredith Erickson, Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts, 2018, Appetite by Random House
Finally, download our Why choose local food? factsheet for a snapshot of these arguments! We also invite you to see our factsheet Why choose organic food?
(1) Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Aspirational Canada-wide Waste Reduction Goal, 2014
(2) Éco Entreprises Québec, Quebecers’ relationship with packaging: Importance attached to environmental criteria for consumer product purchasing, 2015
Photo credit : Les Jardins Écho Logique