My husband and I are known as the people who spend too much money on meat to make sure that its happy/local/sustainable/free range/awesome. But for us (okay, perhaps just me) its important that what I am eating is local, healthy, organic, and ethical. Everybody has different definitions on what ethical eating means to them. For me, it means that the food I am consuming isn't harming someone else and isn't environmentally destructive. For many people, this would not include eating meat - for my husband and I, this means that the meat we do consume is with animals that have been treated well, not been treated with hormones or antibiotics, and have lived a regular life cycle, as opposed to having been bred solely for the purposes of eating.
It is virtually impossible to eat completely local and organic, especially in the winter time. Its quite sad, considering that both Oxford and Perth counties (where we live) are rich with agriculture, family farms, and growing opportunities. Last summer, in peak fruit & vegetable season, I went to Sobey's to pick up a few items for dinner. I was hoping to get Ontario tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce to make a Greek Salad. Imagine my shock (and annoyance) that none of these items were from Ontario. They were from California. I spoke with the produce manager, who couldn't really give me a good reason for why this was, other than "I just order off a form, and it comes in. I don't always know where it will be from."
Why does this matter? Today, most of our food comes from a few large multi-national corporations. They use pesticides & chemicals that are harmful to our health and to our environment. Individual people are losing control over the source and content of our foods. I highly recommend reading some labels of common foods in your cupboards to see whats in them & where they came from. My mom recently started making her own pickles after realizing her beloved Bicks were coming from India, despite the fact that cucumbers are grown all around her. Tomatoes are often canned in China, despite a huge growing season for tomatoes right here in Ontario.
The only way it will get easier to purchase local, organic food is if we buy them, plain & simple. It may take a bit more effort, but seek out this food at your store. Harass the produce manager. Go to the farmer's market to support the local vendors.
In the meantime, here are a few links to vendors that we use:
Express Organics (London, but delivers to Woodstock!)
Nutrafarms (natural meat from Barrie, ON)
Birtch Farms & Estate Winery (Woodstock)