Eat closer to home

Starting today, eating local foods will be easier
than ever in Sudbury after the grand opening of the Eat Local Sudbury
Co-operative store at 11 a. m. at Market Square.

The goal of the co-operative is to only carry local produce, defined as food grown or raised within 150 miles of Sudbury.

"What we’re hearing from people is they want a convenient
location, like a one-stop shop, similar to a grocery store where they
could just get all their local food products in one place rather than
travelling from farm to farm, so that’s where the idea came from," said
Allison Muckle, the project co-ordinator for the Eat Local Sudbury
Cooperative.

Muckle became interested in opening a local food cooperative
after she found it difficult to eat locally without travelling long
distances or to out-of-the-way places.

"Having that experience, about how challenging it can be to get those products, it’s

Although most foods available at the co-operative come from
within the 150-mile radius of Sudbury, some foods, like peanut butter
and oils, will have to come from outside the area.

nice to have this idea come together to make it easier for
people who are interested in eating locally to get the products that
they want," said Muckle.

Foods available at the cooperative will include cranberries,
different varieties of juice, wild herbs, wild rice, honey, elk,
venison, beef, pork, stone-ground flour, dried beans, cheeses,
vegetables and fruit to name a few.

"Basically, our goal is to connect consumers with their local farmers and we saw a need for that in Sudbury," said Muckle.

"There’s been a lot of interest in the community from quite a
few people," she said. "I think it’s going to be a successful
endeavour."

Although most foods available at the co-operative come from
within the 150- mile radius of Sudbury, Muckle said some foods, like
peanut butter and oils, will have to come from outside the area.

Although Sudbury isn’t an agricultural powerhouse,
there are areas within the 150-mile radius — such as Thornloe, Verner
and St. Charles — that have large farming communities, said Muckle.

"In terms of getting produce, we’re a little more challenged
than southern Ontario," she said. "But there are so many people up here
that are making really unique products — especially meat products."

The Eat Local Sudbury Cooperative will carry elk, bison,
ostrich and other specialty meats. They’ll also carry all the more
common meat choices, except for chicken because Northern Ontario
farmers don’t have quotas for chicken.

"Basically, our goal is to connect consumers with their local farmers and we saw a need for that in Sudbury,"

Allison Muckle, Eat Local Sudbury Co-operative

When it comes to produce, Muckle said there will be a wide variety as well.

"It’ll be in-season produce of course, so right now we’re looking at lettuces, radishes — spring vegetables," she said.

"We’ll have a wide range of vegetables as the season goes on."

Some farmers are growing exotic vegetables, like Chinese cabbages and other Asian foods, she said.

Currently, about 10 farmers are participating in the
cooperative. Muckle expects that number to rise and food variety to
increase as interest in Eat Local Sudbury grows.

"There’s a lot of interest with farmers and a lot of interest with consumers," she said.

But for what reason do people want to eat locally so much?

"A big one for a lot of people are the environmental reasons,
just buying food that hasn’t been transported across the globe or
across the continent," said Muckle. "Reducing the amount of
transportation and the amount of fossil fuels and greenhouse gasses is
a big one."

Another important reason people want to eat locally is to support the agriculture centre.

"We’re losing farmers and we’re losing farmland all the time and we tend to be more reliant on a more global food system.

"It’s kind of important that we strengthen our local food system for our local farmers," she said.

It’s also a way for small, local farmers to sell their products,
because it’s difficult for them to sell them at large grocery stores,
she said.

Although it will cost more for consumers to eat locally, Muckle said it’s all about creating a system that benefits everyone.

"What we’re trying to do is get a fair price for farmers and consumers," she said.

"The farmers and consumers are part of the food system. We want everybody’s input."

And although prices appear to be cheaper at the grocery store, it’s often an illusion, said Muckle.

"Prices at the grocery store often have hidden costs," she said.
"The prices might be cheap, but you’re paying for it in other
environmental costs and, you know, social costs as well."

The current food situation and the variety of food available at
the co-operative leaves Muckle optimistic about the store’s success in
Sudbury.

"I think we won’t have trouble finding our market," she said.

After its grand opening today, the Eat Local Sudbury
Co-operative will be open Saturdays, 8 a. m.-3:30 p. m.; Sundays, 10 a.
m.-3:30 p. m.; and Wednesdays, 4:30 p. m.-6:30 p. m. at Market Square.