Slow Food Montreal Tips and Resources: Eating Local the Easy Way
Not too long ago, fresh produce was, and for many still is considered a costly luxury. My slow food Montreal tips, as you'll soon discover, are an attempt to bust that belief. Eating locally grown food such as fruits, vegetables, and meat is a viable lifestyle choice, even on a tight budget and especially in a city like Montreal surrounded by a sizable agricultural community.
The trick is in the strategy.
And the act of buying and eating homegrown food goes beyond just adding Quebec-grown veggies to the grocery bill.
A political statement, an environmental choice, a thumb's up to the local economy, a health-conscious decision and thanks to the increasing popularity of organic food baskets and public markets, eating local in Montreal, when done right, can be cheaper than buying produce from standard supermarkets.
The first step to eating local in Montreal is finding out what grows when in the area. If you follow the seasons, not only will your produce taste way better, it'll be cheaper too.
Montreal—and most of the province of Quebec—is lucky to have access to fresh homegrown produce year round, this in spite of the region's long winter months.
Consult this list of Quebec grown fruits and vegetables categorized by seasonal availability as you shop for groceries, keep an eye out for produce grown in Quebec, and watch as your food bill starts dwindling.
Granted, those mangoes you spotted at your favorite market weren't exactly local.
But rest assured, these public markets in Montreal offer an enviable selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables from Quebec, maple products from around the corner, raw milk cheeses produced just a short drive out of the city and other perishable and non-perishable items made in Quebec.
And while the selection, especially at Jean-Talon Market, is exceptional, the prices can really vary and yes, they are extravagant at times.
As I was saying earlier, the trick to saving money when shopping at these markets is to buy fruits and vegetables in season and purchase in bulk as much as possible, making large batches of food which can then be frozen.
For example: I pay $5 for a 10-pound monster bag of sweet, multicolored carrots year round. They're so sweet, I don't even need to peel them. In contrast, what do you pay for your small bag of orange ones at the supermarket?
One of the most affordable ways to eat top-grade locally grown organic fruits, vegetables, free range meat, eggs and more, all fresh from the farm, is to join a community-supported agriculture group, better known as a CSA. But a word of warning: CSAs aren't for everyone. Find out everything you need to know about getting involved and whether your personality and lifestyle offer the perfect fit.
Run by the community for the community, Montreal food cooperatives or co-ops -better known as "groupes d'achat" or "achat collectif" in Quebec- allow members to save money on quality food items by purchasing a large amount of groceries at bulk prices directly from local farmers, wholesalers and/or producers.
Savings range from significant to dramatic and the produce, depending on the cooperative, is often organic.