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This September, take our Eat Local challenge

Actu - Manger local (août)

If there is one month where fresh fruits and vegetables abound in Quebec, it is September! This is a great time of year to try your hand at buying local produce. Once you get started, you won't want to stop. It just may become a year-long habit.

Buying local products means paying attention to when products are in season. You may be pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of local products, which include:

  • eggplant
  • zucchini
  • blueberries
  • cantaloupe and other melons
  • daikon radish
  • spinach
  • raspberries
  • beans
  • lettuce
  • onions
  • potatoes

Even when you are eating out, you can enquire as to whether or not the restaurant uses local produce.

Benefits of eating local

Eating local food isn't just good for our taste buds, it's also good for our economy. Indeed, buying local has many social, economic and environmental benefits. When you eat local, you are helping to create jobs and preserve our agricultural heritage.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, if each of us were to spend an additional $30 on Quebec products each year, in five years, we would have injected $1 billion into the provincial economy. 

How do you know if something is local?

In Quebec, grocers are supposed to clearly indicate where their produce comes from. According to the rules, the name of the country of origin ("Canada," or...) should appear prominently above the produce display. Also allowed: the more specific label, "Produit du Québec."

There are a few other markers that can help you identify local products in stores. 

  • Aliments du Québec is a label that has been developed by the Quebec agri-food industry. We often find this logo on product packaging or on the poster announcing the price. 
  • Several Quebec regions have developed their own campaigns and, in some cases, logos, to promote their local products. 
  • In the absence of other indicators, there is sometimes a 4- or 5-digit code labelled on bulk fruits and vegetables. This code is called PLU (Price Look-Up). It helps identify the product at the cash. The country of origin sometimes appears on this label. The next time you are in a grocery store, take a look.  

What about winter?

You can also find a wide variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables in winter. Look for:

  • potatoes
  • carrots
  • onions
  • rutabagas
  • celeriac
  • cabbage
  • and more

Don't see local food? Ask for it.

Let your local grocer know that you would like to see more local produce in the aisles.

The more people ask for local food, the more we will see in stores.

Let your friends and families know that you are trying to get more local food in your stores. Share your story on our Faceboook page and let us know how your grocer has met your need. You may inspire someone else to do the same!

Change the way you shop

You can also try other ways of shopping, by buying more directly from a producer. Market farmers, road-side stands, and Equiterre's family farmer network are all great ways to access delicous local produce. Getting to know your farmer is a boost to our agricultural heritage: it acknowledges farmers for their know-how, encourages diversified production, promotes our rural areas, and fosters a connection between consumers and the producers who grow their food. 

More and more people are interested in what's on their plate. There has been an explosion of TV shows and websites devoted to food. Join the movement: take our Eat Local challenge this September and share your story with us on our Facebook page (In French). When the month is over, you won't want to stop – we promise! 

Photo: Sarah-Geneviève Perreault