The Dufferin Grove Farmer's Market is always a beautiful place. I can't quite remember when I first started going, but I do know that by the time I was in grade 8 I stopped by every thursday to get a loaf of their amazing salted rosemary community oven baked bread (pictured below). A fresh slice, slathered with butter (before the vegan days) and honey (I still eat honey, so not a true vegan?) is the absolute perfect after school snack. It also made me feel pretty darn grown-up to be buying the family groceries at the local market (yes I was a weirdo kid who loved grocery shopping). The sea salt and rosemary combo, although simple, is still the best tasting bread recipe I have yet to find.
If you're from Toronto, or just visiting, be sure to stop by and grab a loaf. They sell out quick!
Another gem about this market: it is always filled with laughing, music playing, green belly filled humans. Just being there is a treat. There is stall after stall of organic farmers selling their produce, and on the upper level just outside of the rink house are venders selling amazingly delicious prepared foods.
One of my favourites is the Clements Crepe stand. Their buckwheat crepe batter filled with just about anything is mouthwatering (although I especially loved the asparagus and cheese filled crepe before the veganness began). There are happy children and family's, tempting smells and aromas filling the air, and usually a musician or two playing a tune. It is not only the food that works wonders here, but equally as important is the community. Dufferin Grove Park hosts a variety of community events including (but not limited to) the market, the community vegetable garden, friday night hot dinners, and sunday pizza oven. In the wintertime you can cozy up inside the rink house with a hot chocolate and plenty a sore foot (from all the skating). It is truly a wonderful community to be a part of, and I am so grateful that it exists.
I wanted to note that at this time of year, there were less stalls up than in the heat of the summer. We weren't able to do all of our shopping here, but it is still exciting to see the start of the season with so many green vegetables and beautiful foods :)
This chocolate from Chocosol is crazy good. We got the Hemp Gold, but they are all to die for. I would definitely recommend checking out their products. Personally I prefer dark chocolate that isn't too sweet, and this is exactly what I needed.
And this is the rosemary sea salt bread I was raving about!
I mentioned that we were unable to buy all of our food from the market, so I thought I would share where we got (and often buy) the rest of what we eat. West End Food Coop (WEFC) is a not for profit organizations that aims to bring local food to its west end Toronto community. Their produce and prepared foods are beautiful, nourishing, and delicious. It is amazing to practically have a farmers market/health foods store around the corner from where we live.
Even though this is amazing, I did want to talk about accessibility in terms of food.
In the summers, I live at home with my mom in Toronto. We try to make it to as many farmer's markets as we can, but of course end up buying food elsewhere too. We often shop at WEFC and other healthy foods stores. An amazing produce store called Queen Fresh Market just opened up down the street, and we are such frequent visitors that almost my whole family is on a first name basis with the owner. However, this is simply not the case when I am living in Montreal.
I think it's important to realize that within the health and wellness communities, many people cannot afford or do not have access to the kinds of food (organic, local, etc.) that they may like to be eating. I am definitely not an expert on global or local food systems, or even within political discourses on food, but I do have my personal experiences.
Eating the best and most local produce available is wonderful, but not always possible. I recognize that I am still very lucky to be able to afford the food I eat on a regular basis, but I worry that promotion of a specific healthy lifestyle can result in food shaming. The most important thing is to feel nourished and to literally just get enough food to survive. This is not possible for many people.
I think within a wellness discourse it is important to recognize that there are so many different ways to source food, and local organic products are not always the best and most available option. It is also so important to realize that food is not always a choice, and to never ever shame or judge someone for the specific diet that they eat.