After roughly twenty five years of living in large cities, I have been in a very small one for five weeks now. One of the big concerns I had when making this transition was the availability of fresh, local food. I mean, if there is a city of almost a million people 50km away, what are the chances of having ANY locally produced food available. I figured the sucking maw that is the urban sprawl would devour everything produced and I would be left with large chain supermarkets.
I was so wrong.
Let me start with the local beef farm. This particular beef farm sells their meat to two of the better restaurants in Ottawa – and it is featured by name on the menu. I have bought their meat in the past from the Main Street Farmers Market and was astonished at not only how good it was, but how rich it was. It is a curious thing to suddenly switch from regular supermarket beef to organic, grass fed beef. I could only eat half of what I consider a “normal” portion. I have experienced the same thing with organic bison, wild venison and free range chicken from a friend’s farm. So, has our beef consumption increased because our wealth has increased, or is it because feed lot beef is lacking?
There is also a bakery nearby. Not just any bakery – they don’t use conventional baker’s yeast. They also have a complete line of gluten-free bread and treats. I don’t suffer from celiac disease, but I do have trouble with wheat (and I suspect yeast and lactose as well). Breads baked here are sold all over North America in speciality stores. I can drive down the road, chat with the baker and make my selections. And the bread is lovely.
But clearly I’m not the only person in town looking for locally produced foods. There is a store here that is devoted to selling locally produced organic produce and other health foods. They even have milk from the local dairies! Oh, and they'll ship to you if you can't get to them.
And then there is the pub. It’s in the tiny little hamlet of Ashton, population roughly 200. It’s a 20 minute drive from my house so isn’t a good choice for a bender as I still have to get home at the end of it, but they brew their own beer. But this isn't the nasty plonk you're thinking it might be. This is good stuff, and well worth the drive.
But you didn't hear all this from me - I'm one of them now. It's a secret.