Support your community by eating close to home

By in Culture

This just in — it’s possible to eat cheap, healthy and creatively with ingredients from local producers. This makes it easy to support your community, your environment and your well-being.

There are many options in Saskatoon for good eats that are sourced within the province and even within the community. Sustainability, especially concerning food and health products, is becoming increasingly more popular as more and more information about production and food waste issues circulates. It’s cool to be conscious, and what better way to start than with what you use to fuel your body?

Believe it or not, eating local doesn’t have to be costly.

Supporting local food producers pays off, because when you buy local, a good portion of the money spent remains within Saskatchewan, supporting other local businesses. Buying local also gives you the knowledge that good farming practices were used as producers are focused on a reduced carbon footprint and being environmentally friendly.

Local businesses also typically hire locally, creating more jobs within the community. At their core, producers are passionate about what they do and are quite knowledgeable on the subject. What’s more, local business’ tax dollars are reinvested back into the community, benefitting everyone.

However, eating locally can have its challenges, especially when high costs are a factor. It’s true that shopping organically and eating good foods can often be out of student budgets, but with a little extra effort — planning grocery runs on Wednesday and Sunday at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, or making a trip to a niche shopfront rather than a one-stop supermarket — it can be done affordably. The result is good, healthy and sustainable food, benefitting you and your community.

When it comes to local goods on a budget, it’s important to be realistic with what you purchase. Things like farm-grown vegetables, providing they are in season, and locally made breads are generally cheaper than what you would find in grocery stores. However, more specialty items such as chocolates, baking and condiments will run at a higher price from local producers.

Meat from local producers is worth watching — it won’t always be the cheapest option but deals are easy enough to find and in the end, you’re making the more ethical purchase. Be selective, and only plan to buy what you really need.

There’s more than 100 local producers in Saskatchewan, most of whose products are available at locations in Saskatoon, and there are plenty of resources to help you find them. The SaskMade Marketplace offers online information about producers as well as access to many local goods at their 8th Street location. The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market houses a growing number of vendors with a variety of goods, from perogies to fresh bread and vegetables at reasonable prices.

The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union Food Centre on campus also offers students affordable access to healthy foods through CHEP, an organization that aims to promote food security and healthy eating.

There are also programs like the N(ice) Box, located in The Better Good on Broadway, a community fridge where people can take and leave perishable food items like vegetables, meat and dairy products and even leftover food from local restaurants that has not been contaminated. Not all food from sources like these are guaranteed to be locally produced, but they are usually donated by or purchased at wholesale prices from local business owners and individuals in the community.

You can also become your own local food producer with community gardens scattered throughout the city and several accepting applications on campus, there is never a reason not to eat right from your own backyard.

Jump into the new year with a new goal — putting a little extra work into finding foods from local sources promotes better eating habits and builds community. It might not always be the most convenient avenue, but when you care about what you eat, what you eat will care for you.

Emily Migchels

Photo: Jeremy Britz / Photo Editor