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Autumn Cooking and Food Shopping

Autumn is when I get into some serious cooking again. It's the season for the comfort food most people enjoy: soups, stews, braised dishes, roasts and hearty, earthy vegetables. I can spend hours in the kitchen on a chilly day preparing the harvest bounty available at this time of year while I listen to CDs or CBC radio. It's the season for carrots, rutabagas, cabbages of all kinds, leeks, kale, beets and potatoes -- to name a few good things.

I'm a regular at the farmers' market at the downtown Covent Garden Market on Saturday mornings. I like the atmosphere of farmers' markets and meeting the farmers and producers who bring their goods in every week. But most of all I love the fresh, seasonal produce that I'm buying directly from local, organic farmers. I think it's one of the best ways to support environmental sustainability (think smaller carbon footprint), the local economy and small farms.

There's not quite the abundance at the market at this time of year but I bought leeks, sweet potatoes, shitake mushrooms, kale, broccoli and even radishes on November 10. It's hard to say how much longer you'll be able to buy lettuces, spinach and radishes. It will depend on the temperatures. But there's lots of produce available: onions, rutabagas, apples, mushrooms, baby bok choy, a variety of potatoes, green leaf celery, carrots and more. The farmers' market will continue until Christmas and in the past vendors have sold pine boughs, wreaths, branches of berries and other items to use for Christmas decorating. You can also purchase interesting lavender products from a woman who owns a lavender farm, and crafts, as well as products like local honey and maple syrup. Great Christmas gifts.

Do note that the farmers' market is separate from the vendors located inside the market. The vendors outside on Thursday and Saturday mornings may only sell items they produce themselves.

You might also be interested in the following links for more information on sustainable agriculture, organic farming and eating locally. It's hard to imagine living without the wealth of produce available in our supermarkets but even reducing our consumption of imported produce can make a difference.