Friday, January 29, 2010

Frozen Farmer's Market with the Public Health Authority

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays! hosted by Food Renegade. Go check out the other fantastic 'Real Food' posts!!

As I've mentioned before here, I am not a fan of the farmer's market in Halifax. It's SO crowded that you can barely move, hear or talk and in order to get any food at all you need to be there on a Saturday morning at 7-8am. I've also mentioned how I'm not a huge fan of the local food box- as I found out (from a sticker on my zucchini) that they were sourcing their produce from a local store... Eating locally here is not an easy feat, but we've been trying with shopping at 'Planet Organic' that carries some local produce and meat, at a hefty price. (the courtyard of Dalhousie University. What you can't see are the wind gusts to 41km-hour and -15 windchill!)

As a last minute decision, I decided to take today off, which was pretty convenient as we had a bit of a windy snowstorm last night (so no walking in the snow pour moi!). My main plan: take advantage of the Friday 10-2 Farmer's Market!

Since last spring the local Health Authority (Capital Health) has been hosting a mini 'Farmer's Market' every Friday from 10am to 2pm as a 'Healthy Living, Healthy Eating' initiative. As I used to get every other Friday off, I went to a few of these during the late summer, early Fall months. Located in the Veteran General Hospital courtyard, Capital Health sent emails to all their employees each week reminding them of the market and new vendors.  (The courtyard of the VG today)

As I no longer get any Fridays off, I thought I'd take advantage of this time and see what exactly I'd be able to buy in this 'mini' frozen Canadian Market. As I walked towards the VG, snow blowing in my face, the windchill making it feel like -15 Celsius (5 Fahrenheit), I wondered if it was even open.

(the SIGN, if you'll notice it even asks customers to BYObag!)

I found the courtyard empty.... and ventured closer to see- it was open! Walking inside the VG Hospital cafeteria I saw 7 booths set up with vendors sprinkled amidst patients, visitors and staff eating their lunch. I wish I could have taken some pictures to show you all, but I was a bit concerned about patient confidentiality... who wants to be splattered on a blog when you're ill?

As I made my way around, I bought something from each vendor: my first stop the 'fish' guy.

Now, it's no surprise that as a Nova Scotian AND a fisherman's daughter, I'm pretty darn fussy about what seafood I buy and eat. Add the sustainable aspect and it gets a bit trickier. The absolute BEST haddock I have ever eaten has been fresh from my mother's village- Pubnico. To my surprise, the fish guy is actually from my village and knows my family! Fresh, non-frozen haddock from 'home' it is! (Now I just have to call my mom and see how she cooks it!).

*Quick update: I just called my brother to confirm my suspicions on how they fish for haddock... by trawl. Trawls (or draggers as they are referred to at home) are these huge boats that basically dump nets with wheels at the bottom and literally drag them along the ocean floor. These nets pick up haddock, but they also catch other sea creatures AND tear up the ocean floor. My brother (also a lobster fisherman) reported that you *can* fish for haddock via hook-line, but they are more expensive to buy and rarely done. The bulk of Atlantic haddock that is sold comes from trawl. (the 'degradable' bag the fish guy gave me)

Well darn. At least next time I'll just stick to free lobster from my father and brother!

I also bought some home made hot pepper jelly, Italian herb bread, no-oat granola and Prince Edward Island tulips. Although in no way does this 'mini' market sustain all our grocery needs, it was so wonderful to be able to casually chat with the people who actually MAKE this stuff without feeling pushed or pressure to get out of the way like in the regular market.

(my loot today! See the "plastic" bag the fish is in? It supposed 'degrades' when in sunlight... now how long I have no idea and I KNOW it isn't accepted in our municipal composting facility. I'll have to figure out another use for it!)

So tonight, Andrew and I will dine on (ugh... trawl) haddock, baked in hot pepper jelly sauce, local organic mashed potatoes and organic broccoli and carrots! Yum!! What are you having for supper?


article and photos copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. I think we're having gnocchi (packaged, though I do have a recipe for making my own) with butternut squash and kale from the organic grocery here. We have a year-round farmers market, but I just can't get there at 7am on Saturday when it's this cold!

  2. We are trying out a new recipe today. Slow cooker spaghetti sauce. I hope it tastes yummy, it sure smelled yummy preparing it! I paid an arm and a leg and a another leg for the tomatoes, so I prob won't cook this again until the price is cheaper. The only canned thing in it might be tomato paste, if the sauce is too runny. Meatless.

  3. Also, is it cheaper to buy veggies at the farmers market than in the store? I have never purchased veggies at the market before. I don't go very often because I like sleeping in, and it's soooo crowded! This summer I am going to the market more and I'm buying their veggies!

  4. well- it's cheaper to buy local organic veggies directly from the farmers, BUT it's not cheaper than buying produce that's been sprayed with pesticides and shipped from spain-mexico-peru etc.

    so- I find that I prioritize things that I buy AND I'm planning on growing my own produce on my balcony this spring again! :) (Which I will post about soon soon!). :)

    slow cooker spaghetti sauce eh??? different!

    Vegan Burnout- ouuu, you can make your OWN gnocchi??? COOL.
    yep- I just can't wake up that early on weekends in general! lol

  5. I've pretty much just given up on fish and seafood as part of my regular diet, as it's too complicated and expensive (and hard to find) eco-friendly fish. I have a soft spot for the ocean, so I get pretty worked up over the ecology of our oceans. That's not to say fish never crosses my lips, being Nova Scotian at all, but it's not often.

    Anyhoo, I think it's a vegan dinner for me tonight: roasted sweet potatoes, and romaine and mango salad (obviously the mango is not local!) so it's a light dinner tonight.

  6. Whatever I have, don't think it's gonna be nearly as tasty as that sounds...sigh...

  7. Update: we're having takeout Thai/Chinese :) But yes, homemade gnocchi is a possibility! I can email you the recipe if you like.

  8. Yay, I can post comments again!

    Anyway, I'm so jealous - I've always wanted a farmer's market in the winter, but we have none in our small area. Only June-Sept. :(

    To bad about the trawling, but your fish looks delightful!

    I am curious about those bags. I've been hearing a lot about them - but haven't yet tried them. Let me know if you decide to put them out in the light.

    And flowers. Oh my. I've been meaning to force bulbs in January forever now, and haven't yet done it. What a perfect perfect perfect way to bring some beauty into the house during the height of winter. (Thank goodness Candlemas is almost here!)

  9. Five Seed: hmmm, I SHOULD put it out in the sunlight and see how long it takes.... document it through pictures! forcing bulbs?? cool....

    VB: for sure! I'd love to have the recipe :)

  10. I LOOOOVE the Halifax Farmer's has so much stuff and lovely farmers/vendors...mmm!

    It is true you do have to go at 7 or 7:30 ish or so ,but I think that is a small price I am willing to "pay".I will get up early Sat mornings to enjoy those incredible foods from those amazing people.MUCH better that Planet Organic,or the box system.
    We are soooooo lucky to have this market...and you too will be happy when they move to the bigger venue(I for one will be sad -the character in the brewery market is so fantastic.....!)
    Since ecoyogini tries to encourage us to make small sacrifices to help our environment and nature,I challenge you to make the small sacrifice of an early wake up(hey you can always crawl back into bed later!)
    Them's my 2 cents ;) Cheers!!

  11. lol- you're RIGHT of course! I agree, having the market in the brewery is very cool, in that the character is phenomenal. I just always leave feeling REALLY angry- crowds and I don't mix....

    I am excited for the new venue- in June? :D Since I did lots of my shopping today, I'll be sleeping in tomorrow, but perhaps next saturday will be THE day to get up, gasp, at 7am....... :)

  12. Yes! That would be awesome! I've always wondered what would happen to those bags...

  13. Guess the move of the Halifax market may not be good for the farmers themselves-boo!
    From local newspaper today.....

  14. My dinner was uneventful, but I made my first gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cookies for dessert (due to food allergies, which I still need to blog about). I was amazed at how yummy and pretty they turned out to be.

    How cool to find fish from home! And your flowers look beautiful.

  15. Pasta carbonara. With homemade pancetta (pork belly is from a local pork producer and meat cutter) and fresh eggs (my cousin is paying me for private yoga sessions with fresh eggs from their chickens, how cool is that?!) Carbonara is the ultimate comfort food for me and it is super easy to cook. Although, usually the wonderful husband cooks it. He is the chef!

  16. Homemade veggie pizza for us tonight. I am jealous, too, of your year-round farmers market. I have one about an hour away, but can't make it every week.

  17. oooh, what an adventure! your dinner sounds amazzzzing! i had homemade pizza for dinner, made by my friends who just happen to be farmers (and have time to do things like make pizza from scratch at this time of year).

  18. Ha this is great! You made me crave my old home city...we had farmers markets year round too! But I just looked up the one farmers market I did find last year and it opens in April which isn't TOO terribly far away (although it closes in July!!) :-) I'll take what I can get here though!!

    I finally pan friend the asparagus that's been hanging out in my fridge waiting for my husband to be gone and then made some twice baked potatoes. Finally plugged in and am working on some crock pot recipes though! :-) And of course, cause I'm here in the middle of louisiana, none of it is local nor organic however......

  19. the friday farmers' market is wonderful in the summer and fall months. My dh works in one of those buildings that border that courtyard:) I'm sorry you find the farmers' market trying, it is crowded but it is one of the best in the world really and in terms of being able to buy local produce, I find it worth braving the crowds on the days when dh can't go at 7 am. There is so much choice there. We buy most of our produce there each week.


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