– Aaleya Waslat, staff

This past week, I set out on a week-long adventure of eating as much local food as possible.

I saved money and felt healthier because of this experience; and it also made grocery shopping more enjoyable.

The first stop to find fresh, local foods was the Brantford Farmers Market.

Walking in turned out to be overwhelming – it was so different than other big-box grocery stores. There was a sense of pride, community and most of all, the food looked and smelled naturally delicious.

After some walking and discovering, I purchased one piece of stuffed chicken and asked to have it cut into three pieces. Living by myself, I was able to freeze it and therefore use it for different meals over the week. Freezing fresh food is ideal for someone that lives alone as well or is a light eater.

To add some fruit to the diet, and to replace traditional snacks like chocolate bars, I found Graham and Doris Beam, a husband and wife who grow and sell produce, and purchased five of their apples.

Graham said that a large part of the local market scene is a focus on quality of the product, not the price.

“To us the quality of the food counts more than the price, mostly when students buy with us they only buy for themselves so it is individually priced,” Graham said.

Graham is proud of his products, some of which include fresh apple cider, local potatoes and, of course, apples.

In addition to just food, the Farmers Market offered some great gift ideas, as well, including beautifully packaged homemade chocolates.

More than anything, the real overwhelming sense of the market was the feeling of community it offered. Side-by-side with the vendors there to make a living, there was a number of charity-oriented booths, as well.

Marilyn Markman, who voluntarily raises money for The Brantford Lions Club, said, “The funds we raise go to the community only”.

On that day, Markman was selling an assortment of decorated chocolates for the organization.

Markman says that those that shop at the farmer’s market are passionate food lovers who know to value ingredients that are used for cooking or just an everyday snack.

Today we live in a society in which food is not as valued as it used to be. It has become more about convenience than filling one’s self with healthy food to fuel the body.

We no longer eat together as a family or as a household – we eat between meetings, as we watch television, on our way to work; because of this, we do not reflect upon what we are eating and it loses much of its pleasure.

My visit to the farmer’s market has motivated me to buy more local products and learn about the food that I am consuming. By buying local food, I can ask the farmer questions about what she has grown and rekindle my connection to the soil that produces my food.

Perhaps more importantly, as a student, I was able to save money by shopping locally. Having the freedom to buy individual or smaller portions of food cut costs.

All told, I only spent fifteen dollars, and my diet lasted me an entire week.

I have decided that after this experience I will continue to eat local food and embark on a healthier diet. It is a week after I started eating local food and I crave less chocolate. I feel healthier- l less bloated. I feel more knowledgeable and good about what I am eating.

Eating locally has benefits that extend beyond the consumer.

Buying locally benefits the local farmers that grow the food, the economy of Brantford and surrounding areas and is good for the environment.

The food at chain grocery stores travels thousands of kilometers to get there. Through supporting farmers just kilometers away, it helps eliminate the long process of transportation which adds to global warming and environmental pollution.

So step out of your comfort zone, and try eating local. You won’t regret it.