The DeLish Bite

Lindsay Evans blogs about food, entertaining and her favourite recipes for Green Living.

By Lindsay Evans

The weather is finally starting feeling like a classic Canadian summer, and that means that fresh and seasonal foods should be brimming from your kitchen. Although they can be found in any supermarket, the ultimate place to get your hands on this season’s local bounty is at one of our many farmers' markets. Not only is shopping at a farmers market an ideal way to find local, high quality and super fresh food, but it is a wonderful way to support our local food vendors – people who are so obviously passionate about creating and selling locally-produced food. In fact, it is often surprising what kind of fascinating and unique gems can be sourced at your local farmers market – most of which are guaranteed NOT to be found at your local grocery store! Here are a few of my favourite local farmers market finds - all can be found at farmers markets around Toronto and Ontario.

Fun Guy Farms:

Bruno Pretti and Paula Vopni are mushroom growers. Their cultivated mushroom company, Fun Guy Farms, offer an endless variety of distinctive fresh and dried mushrooms including shiitake, king oyster and reishi, as well as other mushroom related products, (think delectable mushroom pesto). They are dedicated to sustainable organic agriculture and the production of the highest quality fresh and organic mushrooms. All their mushrooms are cultivated out of their certified organic farm, located about 50 kilometers north of Toronto near Goodwood. Owner, Bruno Pretti is quick to ensure purchasers know that all their mushrooms are grown on wood, not composted animal manure, which creates a better product. Aspiring to be a mushroom grower yourself? They also sell home cultivation kits including inoculated logs to grow them on and spawn to get things going. 

Where to find: The Fun Guy sells Tuesdays at Riverdale Market, Thursdays at Dufferin Grove Market and Saturdays at the Brickworks Farmers Marketand Green Barn Farmers' Market. 

Contact details: 416-402-9755 / 416-963-5521, office@mycosource.com, www.mycosource.com.

Forbes Wild Foods: 

Forbes Wild Foods is a Toronto based company that focuses entirely on creating and selling “wild foods”, or things that grow naturally in the Canadian wildlife. Their products are harvested in remote regions across the country, from Labrador to the islands of British Columbia. A unique mark of this company is that all of their ingredients are handpicked by people trained in sustainable harvesting techniques - aboriginals, farmers, women and youths whose livelihood depends on the success of their products. Some of these exceptional products that owner Jonathan Forbes offers include dried wild mushrooms, wild rice, maple sugar, preserved wild foods (fiddleheads and cattail hearts), jams and compotes (barberry, chokeberry and high bush cranberry) mustards, chestnut flour, and so much more. Additionally, none of their products are subject to any artificial colours, preservatives, herbicides, pesticides, irradiation, or genetic engineering. In fact, everything they sell appears to be new, different and extraordinary. And, the fact that it is a local company, which provides jobs for hundreds of indigenous people, is just an amazing added bonus. 

Where to find: Forbes Wild Foods can be found at Brickworks Farmers Market, Riverdale Farmers Market, Dufferin Grove Farmers Market, Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market and Green Barn Farmers Market as well as numerous other food shops and grocery stores across Canada. 

Contact details: 416 927 9106, forbes@wildfoods.ca, www.wildfoods.ca

Akiwenzie's Fish: 
Akiwenzie Fish & More brings fresh and smoked Georgian Bay fish to farmers markets across Ontario. Owners, Andrew and Natasha Akiwenzie run this First Nations family business out of a home reserve called Chippewas of Nawash, located on the shores of Georgian Bay. They offer incredibly delicious products including fresh and smoked Georgian Bay fish (made from whitefish or lake trout). Their delicate smoked fish is lovingly crafted for 5 to 7 hours, using maple chips with gives it a distinctly Canadian flavour. Their fish is caught locally too, just north of Wiarton, Ontario, on the Bruce Peninsula. Although currently lacking a website, they have created a blog to keep you up-to-date on fishing conditions and what's new at their company 

Where to find: Riverdale Farmers Market, Dufferin Grove Farmers Market, Owen Sound Farmers Market, Green Barn Farmers Market and Brickworks Farmers Market.

Contact details: 519-534-9056, akiwenzie@bmts.com, akiwenziesfish.blogspot.com

Bees Universe: 
John and Irena Alecu, owners of Bees Universe, keep bees in 10 different wild flower fields and conservation areas, between Toronto and Barrie. They offer a wide variety of natural bee products , from the most common and well known (honey), to the much more obscure and distinctive (think live bees and bee venom). Other delectable bee related products they sell include raw honey (wild flower), skin creams (cinnamon and camp fire), honeycomb, bee pollen, propolis (raw and tincture), fresh or frozen royal jelly and even beeswax candles. 

Where to find: Bees Universe products are sold in several farmers markets across the greater Toronto area including Riverdale Farmers Market, Dufferin Grove Farmers Market, Withrow Park Farmers Market , Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market and Brickworks Farmers Market. For a complete list of all markets visit their website. They are also creating an on-line store - coming soon - for those with no access to these farmers markets. 

Contact details: 705-436-7659, office@beesuniverse.com, www.beesuniverse.com

Urban Harvest / Earthly Paradise: 
Urban Harvest is dedicated to providing its customers with seedlings and garden supplies that promote ecological diversity and preserve the natural state and health of the environment. They offer a wide selection of certified organic seedlings and plant seeds (all grown neat the greater Toronto area to support our local economy), garden supplies, soil enhancements and bedding plants, that are specially chosen for their unique qualities by qualified urban gardeners. Additionally, for those of us not located in the greater Toronto region, they have an online store and are able to ship seeds and garden supplies anywhere across Canada. 

Where to find: Riverdale Farmers Market, Dufferin Grove Farmers Market, The Village Market at the Waldorf School in Richmond Hill 

Contact details: Colette Murphy, 416 504 1653, grow@uharvest.ca, www.uharvest.ca If you live outside of Ontario in other parts of Canada, please do write in to tell me about other fabulous farmers market finds near you! image courtesy of Flicker.com