Eating Local: Canada’s Healthy Foods from Coast to Coast

Written by Cara Rosenbloom

(3 min read)

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Move over Mediterranean diet, it’s Canada’s time to shine! From our homegrown barley to salmon and berries, Canadians grow and produce an abundance of nutritious foods that make up our own version of a heart-healthy and wholesome way of healthy eating. Plus, consuming foods grown close to home is better for the planet and can contribute to building a sustainable food system.

Similar to the healthy diet pattern recommended by Canada’s Food Guide, the Mediterranean diet is known for food choices containing olive oil, plant-based protein (beans, nuts and seeds), lots of fresh vegetables and the occasional glass of wine. We’ve got it all here too. Camelina or flax oil, tons of lentils and beans; bushels of farm-fresh produce; and red wine grown in the Okanagan Valley or Niagara Region. Done!

From Malpeque oysters in Prince Edward Island to white beans in Ontario, to the incredible blueberries from British Columbia, Canadian farmers are growing and raising an abundance of delicious, nutritious staples from different food groups. A broad selection of locally grown foods allows easy access to build healthy eating habits. Just look at these nutrition all-stars that grow in our very own country:

  • Cholesterol-lowering flax seeds, lentils, quinoa and beans
  • Fibre-rich whole grains such as barley, oats and wheat
  • Antioxidant-dense blueberries, apples, tomatoes and plums
  • Vitamin-rich carrots, peppers, broccoli and squash
  • Healthy fat from canola, camelina and flax oil
  • Omega-3 fats from salmon, trout, hemp and omega-3 eggs

The marriage of these healthy, plant-based food products is known to help prevent heart disease, stroke, obesity-related disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some types of cancer.

More than just good health

There have been many trends and initiatives on eating local. Eating foods grown close to home is not only good for our health, but also has environmental benefits. Buying from local farmers supports their work and boosts the local economy. It also promotes sustainability by decreasing the travel time of food, which means less fuel and fewer greenhouse gas emissions – that’s better for our planet.

Local food is also fresher, resulting in more robust flavours. Just bite into a local Niagara peach or Saskatoon berry and you’ll know exactly what we mean. Local produce supports food safety too — these products typically use fewer pesticides and come with cleaner food labels. In addition, when produce travels long distances from the farmer to the farmer’s market or local grocer, there are fewer steps (warehousing, distribution, etc.), which means fewer chances for contamination. Still not convinced? Check out even more benefits of buying local here and learn more information on building a better local food system.

Start making healthy eating choices by dropping by your local farmer’s market and supermarkets or look for locally grown and raised products at your grocery stores. You’ll be glad you did with every delicious bite.

Check the In Season Produce Guide to see what are some locally grown Canadian produce in-season that can be found at your local markets.

Join the conversation: What healthy meal are you most eager to cook with Canadian-grown fruits and veggies?

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