Walking down the aisles of the grocery store, it seems we have option after option of food brands to choose from. If there’s something we don’t like about one (say, for example, their total disregard for our health or the planet), we can move on to the next. But who owns that product we’ve picked up instead?
Every dollar that we spend is a vote for the kind of world we want, and ultimately our collective, and individual health.
Here’s how I try my best buy the “right stuff”:
Know who owns your food. This infographic shows that mega companies own some of the seemingly small, healthy brands in our stores. Once you know who is profiting from your purchases, you might want to make a different decision on your next trip for groceries.
Read your labels! Reject front of label packaging, and check out not only the nutritional panel and ingredients, but the fine print about where the item is made, and by who. Have you checked where your frozen fruit or vegetables have been grown?
Buy seeds and grow your own. But buy good seeds – heirloom or certified organic, not the engineered ones by big ag, and clean, healthy soil, too. I appreciate and support Urban Harvest and Young Urban Farmers, plus organic farmers often bring transplants to sell to the market when the growing season begins in Toronto (here are my reasons to trade your lawn for a garden).
Shop the farmers’ market first – Know your farmer, know your food. It’s fun, and a year-round activity – yes, even during the winter in Canada! Here are my tips on what to ask to get the most out of your experience, and your hard-earned dollars (And here is a list of Toronto’s markets).
Shop indie grocery stores and health foods stores over the “super”markets. Although this is not a guarantee that everything on shelf is a good buy, it’s usually a better curated collection of products and brands, and you are supporting your local economy, and small businesses. We have so many great indie grocery stores to choose from in Toronto.
Get to know your local food producers. Many labels appear as if they are small brands, or happy, healthy farms. Look for local companies that truly support our community and use clean, organic ingredients and are committed to a healthier food system for us all. There are so many good companies are making good food right here in Toronto, and the list keeps growing.
Whether you live in Toronto (where I am thankful to live, even if winter makes me want to move to a land where coconuts and avocados grow), are travelling or at home, celebrate local growers, producers, sellers, makers, and shakers. Big Box, Big Agriculture, and Big Food are all counting on us to want what we already know and have been buying, sometimes blindly – let’s reject that and take care of our community and ourselves better.
Vote well. Eat well.