Living in cottage country presents an abundance of nature and recreation that Peterborough, Haliburton and the Kawarthas is renowned for. With it also comes an abundance of fresh, local food to enjoy throughout the growing season. Although fall harvest time is a busy time for markets and farm-gate sales in the region, there are local farmers markets that run throughout the year (yes, even winter!) that make access to local food and producers easy and convenient.
Kawartha Choice has an updated list of farmers’ markets throughout Peterborough and the Kawartha Lakes on their website. But currently list markets in Bethany, Bobcaygeon, Fenelon Falls, Kinmount, Lakefield, Lindsay, Millbrook and Peterborough (three of them!). Further north you’ll find the Haliburton County Farmers’ Markets in Haliburton, Minden and Stanhope. Finally the Bancroft Farmers’ Market services Bancroft and surrounding areas.
Markets, farm-gates and fruit and vegetable stands scattered throughout the region is a great way to connect with local producers, explore new food and eat local.
The benefits of farmers’ markets are far-reaching: They help preserve farmland and the rural landscape; insure the continued economic viability of the small family farm; counter the growth of agribusiness with its devastating impact on people and places, while supporting clean, environmentally sensitive farming practices; conserve energy; help maintain biodiversity in food plants; and contribute to regional prosperity.
It’s important to choose your purchases wisely at your local farmers’ market. Here are some tips so you can make the most of the farm fresh abundance in the Kawarthas.
- Buy only the amount you can use in a short period of time to avoid having to throw away spoiled produce Food in Peterborough is a local initiative that supports reducing wasted food and has some great resources to help manage leftovers and plan meals to reduce waste.
- Look for produce that is free from unusual odors or colors and signs of spoilage such as mold.
- Handle produce gently to reduce bruising. Bacteria can thrive in the bruised areas.
- Remember that buying under-ripe produce isn’t always the best option. Peaches and nectarines are examples of fruits that may soften during storage, but they won’t ripen.
- When buying cut produce, keep it cold during transport. Put it in a cooler with ice if traveling a distance.
- Wash your hands for at least 30 seconds with soap and water before handling produce and any other food.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables with cool running tap water right before eating. Don’t use dish soap or detergent because they may contain chemicals not approved for consumption.
- Scrub melons with a brush and running water, because bacteria can be transferred from the outside of the melon to the inside by a knife.
- Don’t cross-contaminate: Use clean utensils and cutting boards when peeling or cutting up produce. Wash cutting boards with soap and water, rinse and sanitize between uses. A solution of 1 teaspoon bleach per quart of water is considered safe and effective.
- Cut away bruised parts before eating. Remove the outer leaves from lettuce and cabbage.
- Avoid serving sprouts to at-risk populations like the very young, old, or those whose immune system isn’t able to function at normal levels. For example, people undergoing cancer treatment often cannot eat fresh produce.
- Keep fresh cut produce cold by placing serving containers on ice.
- Store produce in containers that are free from excess liquid.
- Refrigerate cut produce and use within a few days.
Food is suppose to be fun! Exploring the tastes that the Kawarthas has to offer should be an adventure. Get out and discover and taste all the bounty that the region has to offer.