September was local food month here in Peterborough. This makes perfect sense: the late summer is when the local produce at farmers’ markets is at its most varied and delicious. But now we’re looking down the barrel of the skid into the long dark of winter in Ontario. Before you hunker down to hibernate (that’s what I like to call it when I spend six months laying in bed sobbing while eating potatoes) make sure you have enough in your pantry to see you through to the other side of soup season.
Farmers’ markets are lovely, but if we’re being real, they’re a fair-weather food solution. Aside from the grandaddy down at the foot of George, most of the above will be closing up shop within the next few weeks. So where do you go to get your food if you hate big-box grocery stores as much as I do?
GROCERY STORE ALTERNATIVES
Almost Perfect / The Grocery Outlet, 819 Chemong Rd, or 982 Highway 7 east of town
My first stop whenever I’m on a food quest. It’s kind of like the Isle of Misfit Foods, its shelves overflowing with stuff the average Peterborian didn’t want to buy – so there’s lots of gluten-free, vegan, and organic stuff. It’s all reduced for quick sale to beat manufacturers’ arbitrary sell-by dates (don’t even get me started), or frozen just before the expiration date has passed. The deals are unbelievable, sometimes more than 90% off what you’d pay elsewhere.
Minh’s Chinese Grocery, 430 George St N
On Thursdays, Mr. Minh makes a trip to Toronto for fresh Asian veggies, roasted ducks, and banh mi sandwiches; the tiny store is open late that day to accommodate the many devoted customers who wait all week for the good stuff. And here’s a hot tip: Minh’s always has ripe avocados even when no one else does.
Goodies on George, 429 George St N
A truly international grocer, with hard-to-score products originating everywhere from Mexico to the Middle East. Look in the fridge for the absolute best ready-made samosas in town. You can grab smokes at the same time as your oxtail; how’s that for a one-stop shop?
By The Bushel Community Food Cooperative, online at bythebushel.ca
A year-round local food basket packed with all the same wonderful produce you can buy at market, but without having to actually get up on Saturday morning and go.
HEALTH FOOD STORES
Joanne’s, 904 Water St, or 1260 Lansdowne St
Peterborough’s own little Whole Foods, with two locations stocking all your favorite hippie brands plus organic meats, produce, and eco-friendly cleaning products and toiletries.
Kelcey’s Nutrition Center, 65 Hunter St E
The Main Ingredient, 326 Charlotte St between Reid and Rubidge
The Earth Food Store, 406 1/2 George St N
Primal Cuts, 550 Lansdowne St
Franz’s Butcher Shop, 172 Lansdowne St E
King Street Butcher, 280 Park St N
Peterborough has three butchers to choose from. If you care where and how your meat is raised, it’s worth striking up a conversation, as each shop sources its meats from a variety of farming operations ranging from ethical small-scale local operations to nightmare corporate factory farms.
Chasing the Cheese, 330 Charlotte St
The Cheese Shop, 58 Brock St
A whole universe of cheese in one store, they also carry lots of things to put cheese on, like toasts, crackers, spreads, pates, and jams. The Cheese Shop also features a full-service deli, lunch counter, and more.
One Fine Food, 800 Erskine Ave
Fancy import brands as well as some produce, fresh bread, meats, fish, and cheese. If all that shopping got your appetite up, you’re in luck bella, because they serve wood-fired pizza and mad decent espresso at their in-store cafe.
The Pasta Shoppe, 165 Sherbrooke St
Hand-made pastas and sauces, and all kinds of other goodies.
Kawartha Dairy, 815 High St
An entire wall of ice cream, and then another wall of the region’s own dairy products.
Naked Chocolate, 142 Hunter St W
For the discerning chocoholic. Gourmet sweets, macarons, gelato, and other dainty things that go to your thighs.