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Where to find local food during the winter months

Photos by Jesse Colautti and Marta Kierkus

Although the ByWard Market thrives year-round, many of its vendors hibernate for the winter months. This seasonal loss of easily accessible local and organic food is a huge disadvantage for those of us who are looking to keep their ecological footprint as small as possible.

But there are many reasons to keep locally-sourced products a part of our lives, no matter the season, beyond simply environmental concerns. 

Firstly, buying local helps stimulate the local economy; you eliminate the multitude of middlemen while your money gets reinvested into other local businesses and services. Also, when you purchase goods that are locally grown, chances are there is much less time between the harvest and the feast. That means no time spent in distribution centres, which minimizes the loss in nutrient value by the time it ends up on your table. 

Local food also seems to always pack a flavourful punch incomparable to the imported and GMO products we find at grocery stores. Perhaps it’s merely a psychological effect, but consuming local food usually leaves me more satisfied and full, not to mention with a heightened sense of moral contentment. 

Here’s where you can find local food products during the fall and winter that won’t break the bank, and won’t require you to go far out of your way.

Herb & Spice, 375 Bank St.


Herb & Spice carries a vast amount of local products, including organic produce, herbal remedies, and freshly baked goods. You can even make your own peanut butter in store. You’ll be in gluten-free, vegan, and naturopath paradise. Make sure to stop by every Sunday to claim a 10 per cent student discount.

Café Alt, University of Ottawa (Simard)


Café Alt prides itself on its sustainable business model. The café offers fair-trade coffee and tea and organic and locally sourced ingredients, all while using bio-degradable materials and other eco-friendly practices. And it’s on campus—about as convenient as you can get. 

Campus initiatives

The Good Food Box project is spearheaded by the Centretown Community Health Centre, and the U of O community can order at the beginning of each month through the SFUO’s Food Bank. Orders come in every third Wednesday with a variety of organic and seasonal produce boxes ranging from $5 to $25. You can place your order online at http://www.ottawagoodfoodbox.ca/. 

Find the Peoples’ Republic of Deliciousness (PRD)  in the UCU Terminus every Monday morning. As if the name wasn’t appealing enough, as a part of their sustainable mandate, PDR uses aesthetically “incorrect” ingredients donated by local businesses to cook and serve up for free each Monday.  Run by volunteers, many of them students, you’ll be sure to see familiar faces cooking tasty, vegan feasts for anyone who drops by. 

Keep in mind the many Ottawa restaurants that serve dishes with local ingredients. The Green Door on Main St., offers a buffet, pay-by-weight style of service. With so many delicious vegetarian and vegan options, be warned: peak hours here mean very long lines. Another delicious find, perfect for late night munching and impressing your date, is Oz Kafe on Elgin St. With their seasonal menu, you can always count on local beef, local beer, and local artwork, too.