Where does your fruit come from? “Local” fruit is a tricky question in Ontario (ON). Many of our soft tree fruits can only thrive in very specific regions of ON making sourcing fruit challenging. The season is short, and all the creatures of the natural world love fruit as much as us humans, making pest management a serious task. Harvesting fruit is also very tedious labour requiring speed and delicacy, often done by migrant workers.
If you are looking to source organic fruit, the options are even fewer. According to OMAFRA due to specific programming, many growers have been able to reduce their pesticide use dramatically. You may encounter fruit growers who say they are “transitioning” to Organic, meaning that they are adopting or taken on certain practices in order to reduce their need for chemical assistance, however it is still difficult to find certified organic fruit in ON. When talking to your farmer, know that there are certified organic “sprays” that can be used to mitigate pest and disease pressure, so asking if something is “spray free” does not necessarily make sense from an agriculture viewpoint. Asking a grower about their farm and growing practices in general will allow for more open conversation.
Farmers’ Markets that prioritize local vendors often run into the challenge of not being able to have fruit at the markets. Fruit vendors do not want to travel to markets far outside of their growing region. In order for markets to be able to sell seasonal ON fruit, many make the exception (if they do not normally allow reselling) to permit their vendors to resell tree fruit that they have picked up from fruit growing regions.
Seasonal fruit is so highly coveted that grocery stores, both large and small scale, make the effort to source ON fruit during the growing seasons. As with all produce for sale, it must be labelled, showing where the fruit has been grown.
Roadside stands throughout ON will also pop up during growing seasons. Stands may be a collection of farms and their products. All items at these stands must be labelled with their origin.
My freezer has been filling up quickly this season and I’m feeling grateful for the abundance of goodness that will feed me throughout the winter months. Apples, pears and grapes are now in season and next on my list of goodies to indulge on!