Thursday, July 12, 2012

Smart Local Food at Barrie's Local Foods Mart

In past generations, local markets mainly stocked foods produced nearby. Nowadays, you’re lucky to find anything locally produced in your neighbourhood supermarket besides this newspaper. But a new store at 123 Dunlop East (near Mulcaster) is changing that, for the better.
The love child of newlyweds Chan Ju Park and her husband/employee Julian Daniel, Local Foods Mart’s mission is to fill your fridge and pantry with the wonderful nourishment of our own region.
Originally planned as Barrie’s first “100-mile store” (a store selling only things produced within 100 miles), they’ve expanded their product line to help supply downtown residents stranded by Foodland’s recent closure (and the pending closure of Price Chopper just up Bayfield). But although 100 miles isn’t a strict rule, Local Foods Mart still seeks out things made nearby, within Ontario, or within Canada, and the offerings also tend to be organic or naturally grown.
Salsa, ships and tortillas from Cookstown? Check. Organic Ontario-grown flours? Present. Co-operatively produced organic canned Ontario tomatoes & sauce? Got em!
Some things just can’t be grown in Ontario, but they can still be processed here. On these shelves you’ll find organic Greek olive oil bottled in Queensville and coffee roasted in Midland.
The product line runs the gamut from organic baby food to cereals, soups, sauces, dressings, pickles, chips, fresh and dried pasta, even trout smoked in Thornbury and canned wild salmon & tuna from BC. The cooler features milk, ice cream, yogurt and cheeses from at least a dozen different small dairies. There are berries from local farms and veggies from the Holland Marsh. Unity Market supplies the produce from urban gardens right here in town, and this is the only store in Barrie where you can buy local greens all week long.
And Unity’s produce isn’t the only Barrie product in stock. If you want to shop the zero-mile diet, Local Foods Mart showcases Barrie-made bread, desserts, frozen meals and pizzas, pierogies, soup stock, bagels, hot sauce, BBQ rubs, even exotic sushi and kimchi.
Shopping Local Foods Mart (; follow on Facebook or Twitter for frequent product updates with photos) can be your first step in meeting the Ontario Table $10 Challenge, which asks us each to dedicate $10 a week of our grocery budget to Ontario foods. If every Ontarian took the challenge, it would put $2.4 billion into our provincial economy each year, supporting 10,000 new local jobs.
Most of the products are labelled with their place of origin and how far (in miles and km) they came to Barrie. And for an even better sense of connection to those who make your food, the store even features farmer bios from a growing number of their suppliers. What a great way to get closer to your food, and get your food closer to home!
A version of this was published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner under the title "Shelves packed with local fare at food store"
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of the Ontario School of Economic Science and Earthsharing Canada

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