Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Ottawa's hidden treasures

After more than 900 posts, I'm always looking for new stuff to write about. Now that I'm in vacation mode (can I get a 'hallelujah'?) we've been doing what I love to do... touring around the city, doing all of our favourite summertime things. And in doing so, I realized that there are a lot of wonderful things to do in this city with families, some better publicized than others. And that writing about all of Ottawa's "hidden treasures" would give me lots of inspiration through all four seasons AND encourage me to get out with the boys more. Granted, none of the stuff I've been thinking of blogging about is truly "hidden", but how often have you heard about something in or near your neighbourhood for years and never actually gotten around to checking it out yourself?

And thus, an idea is born!

The outing that inspired this brainwave was a trip to the Ottawa Farmers' Market at Lansdowne Park. I've been inspired to try to buy locally, but it hasn't been easy. In the height of strawberry season, my local Loblaws offers only berries trucked in from the US. The open-air market in the Byward Market, a mere half a block from where I work, doesn't restrict vendors from outside our geographical area. I've been to the North Gower farmers market and was disappointed by the selection, and the Carp market is more than an hour round-trip.

And then I finally got around to checking out the Ottawa Farmers' Market last week. Granted, it's practically downtown, not exactly conveniently located for a suburbanite like me. And the day we decided to go, the neighbourhood was packed to capacity for the FIFA Under 20 World Cup semi-finals (bad timing on my part.)

But the selection! Not just cukes and tomatoes, but potatoes and onions and lettucey-type greens. Beans and snow peas and zucchini. For the first time, I could buy an entire week's worth of vegetables from a farmers' market. I saw after the fact they also have horse-drawn wagon rides through the Glebe... next time, for sure.

One day, I'll get brave and actually buy some of my meat from the farmers' market, but for now I'm happy to savour locally grown and freshly picked produce... cuz nothing tastes better than a toasted tomato and salt sandwich (bacon optional) with a tall cold glass of lemonade.

So, it probably cost me an eigth of a tank round trip, and the price is quite a bit higher than in the grocery store, and the selection is excellent now but not so great early in the season. This "buying locally" thing isn't cheap or easy... but it's a start, right?

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