When it comes to getting fresh, local produce for less, it helps to think outside the box: Outside the big box grocery store that is. Judging by the weekend crowds at markets such as Atwater and Jean-Talon in Montreal, this isn’t any big secret. Luckily though, the four public markets, Atwater, Jean-Talon, Maisonneuve and Lachine are open from 7:00 am everyday, so one could conceivably get one’s shopping done before heading to work or school. There are also neighbourhood markets, new farmers’ market initiatives in the Plateau and Mile End, as well as Les Comptoirs Urbains Tera Ter in the under-served South-West borough, which run until mid-October.
Shopping at a farmers’ markets supports local business, benefits small producers, promotes dialogue since you get to talk to the actual farmer, or at least one of their representatives, the produce is much fresher and prices are actually lower than in the grocery chains (often much cheaper, even for organic produce). On my last visit, I found non-GMO corn-on-the cob for $4 and a huge head of broccoli (which I was assured was grown without the use of chemical pesticides, despite not having an organic certification) for $1.
My favorite market to shop is the Jean-Talon market (it helps that it happens to be the closest). I find the prices and quality unbeatable and the merchants very willing to discuss their growing practices.
A few of the vendors are certified organic, such as les Jardin Mil’herbes, who were still selling organic local strawberries and cherry tomatoes earlier this week.
You could also buy directly from a family farmer by becoming a member of a community supported agriculture initiative. Equiterre has a full list of participating farms and their drop-off points. I’ve found that you get sooo much that, unless you have like 6 kids, it helps to share the box with a friend or neighbour. Anyway, its downright neighbourly 🙂