Affordable, healthy food at Ottawa’s Good Food Markets

Photo: Ottawa Good Food Markets/Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centre’s Anti-Poverty Project.

Guest post by Denise Deby. Denise blogs at Green Living Ottawa and writes on social and environmental issues (http://denisedeby.com. Her articles have appeared in publications such as Alternatives Journal (A\J), This Magazine, Ottawa Citizen and rabble.ca

 

If you enjoy shopping at local food markets but don’t have one near you, or if cost is an issue, you might want to check out the Ottawa Good Food Markets.

The Good Food Markets are bringing healthy food to several Ottawa neighbourhoods this summer, offering fresh produce and staples in locations that don’t have farmers’ markets or food stores nearby. What’s more, the markets sell food at wholesale prices to keep it affordable.

Who’s behind the Good Food Markets?

Several organizations in Ottawa have come together to form the Poverty and Hunger Working Group. Coordinated by the Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres of Ottawa, their aim is to improve food security – that is, to help ensure that people in Ottawa have access to healthy, affordable food.

Kaitrin Doll, the Coalition’s anti-poverty community engagement worker, says the Good Food Markets are a tangible way to do this. ‘‘We wanted to focus on implementable projects that will make a difference for our community,” she explains.

Partners include the Ottawa Good Food Box, the Social Planning Council of Ottawa, Just Food, the City of Ottawa’s Community and Social Services Department, Ottawa Public Health, community health and resource centres and others.

What’s available at the Good Food Markets?

The markets offer fruits and vegetables, grains such as rice or couscous, legumes, dried fruit and nuts. A local community health, resource centre or group organizes each market, and decides what to stock based on community interest. While the aim is to provide as much locally grown food as possible, keeping prices down and providing imported favourites are also priorities.

The Ottawa Good Food Box orders the produce from food wholesalers and local farmers who provide items for its Good Food Box program (a non-profit initiative that brings people together to buy fresh produce at wholesale prices). The Social Planning Council of Ottawa, which runs a community food pantry, sources dried goods.

The Good Food Markets are also a hub for music, entertainment and kids’ activities, and Ottawa Public Health community food advisors are on hand to provide food samples and recipes. Doll says that the markets aim to promote community engagement as well as healthy eating, and so far, it’s working. In a survey of 220 market-goers last year, most said they were very satisfied and wanted to see it more often, with many noting its nutritional and community benefits.

When and where are the markets?

Offered as a pilot project in four sites last year, the Good Food Markets are expanding to six locations in 2013:

  • Strathcona Heights: 731A Chapel St. at Wiggins Private (Sandy Hill Community Health Centre) June 22, July 20, August 31
  • Michele Heights: 2955 Michele Dr. off Carling Avenue (Pinecrest Queensway Community Health Centre), June 30
  • Rochester Heights 299 Rochester St. near Somerset West (Somerset West Community Health Centre) June 15 at Laroche Park in Mechanicsville; June 20 and July 20 in Rochester Heights
  • Centretown: Bronson and Laurier (Nanny Goat Hill Community Garden) July 13, August 10, September 14, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Overbrook: east of Vanier Parkway (Rideau Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre) June 15, July 6, August 24, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Parkwood Hills: 76 Inverness Ave. near Meadowlands (Nepean, Rideau and Osgoode Community Resource Centre and South Nepean Community Health Centre) June 22, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

See the Good Food Markets Facebook page for updates.

Who are the Good Food Markets for?

Everyone is welcome, to drop by, shop or volunteer. “We’re open to ideas and collaborations,” adds Doll.

Will you be checking out the Ottawa Good Food Markets?

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4 Responses to “Affordable, healthy food at Ottawa’s Good Food Markets”

  1. Shawn W. Wenuk says:

    Hi, I just wanted to comment on my impressions of the Good Food Market and its importance to the community. While obviously people in Ottawa want local, organic fruits and vegetables, people who have access to farmer’s markets can talk to people who are directly involved as to where the produce comes from and if it is organic, etc. But the Good Food Markets also serves a segment of the community who may not even know what our local fruits and vegetables are, how to eat them, and what nutritional values they have. The GFM’s often have a Food Specialists onsite who do demos as to how to consume all these healthy fruits and veggies. For people who have come from afar, knowing what local foods are and how to consume them can be super challenging. It is important that we educate people as to what nutritional benefits certain fruits and vegetables have, and give them new and easy ways to consume them. I deeply applaud this endeavor of bringing fresh fruits, vegetables, and ethnic grains to areas where the local grocery can be kilometers away.

    • Valerie says:

      I agree completely – a very worthwhile initiative. Thanks for reinforcing their value and importance to the community!

  2. Anne Waters says:

    How do we find out what produce is local and what farms they come from?

    • Valerie says:

      Great question, Anne. The food comes through the same suppliers as the Good Food Box program uses (there’s a sample list of them here http://www.ottawagoodfoodbox.ca/?page_id=46). Some, but not all, comes from local farms. (The main goal of the Good Food Markets is to increase the amount of fresh food available at the most affordable prices which means that not all food is sourced locally). According to Kaitrin Doll, locally sourced products are indicated on the order list and this information is passed on to the site coordinator who can then communicate it to customers. Hope this answers your question.

       

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