March Challenge: Eat Local in Edmonton

I spend about two weeks a year working curling events around small city western Canada. While I'm there, I always try to visit local restaurants - I'd much rather give my money to a local, small business than a mediocre big box chain restaurant. Some of my favourite curling vacation eateries include Eats Amore food truck in Kamloops, the Gallery Cafe in Moose Jaw, and most recently El Norteno for tacos and Grande Prairie Coffee Company for sweet treats while in Grande Prairie last week.

In Edmonton, of course my regular favourite place for lunch around campus is Filistix - I make a weekly pilgrammage out to building nine for their solid coleslaw and tasty entrees. The guys have been really good to us over the years, and part of the reason I love going there for lunch is because they remember our names and treat us like friends instead of customers.

But that's it. While I often profess my hatred for chain food, I don't make that much of an effort to eat out at more local restaurants. Part of the reason is I don't eat out a lot (downside of being single) and I live in the northside ghetto which is pretty much a food desert. So while in Grande Prairie, I got to thinking about how I could spend more of my money locally.

This doesn't just apply to restaurants though. I regularly shop at H&W Produce for my fruits & vegetables, as well as the bread they stock from the Italian Bakery or the pitas they get in from Sunbaked Pita Bakery. I often say I want to marry H&W, and if they sold dairy, baking and canned goods I wouldn't have to shop anywhere else. But, I usually have to finish my weekly grocery list with a trip to Safeway or Superstore, and on the rare occasion Costco for meat.

So why can't I just take my money and put it ALL back into local food vendors?

I've decided that in March 2016 I'm going to only eat at and buy my groceries from local small businesses and restaurants in Edmonton. This means only eating out at restaurants owned by a real person and not a CEO of a national/international chain or large company. This means buying my groceries from locally owned business and not chain supermarkets.

This does not mean I'm going on a 100 Mile Diet. I'm eating and buying whatever grown wherever, but the people selling it have to be local small business owners.

Theoretically this shouldn't be too difficult. I can still make my weekly stop to Filistix, but I can't eat my favourite pizza from Famoso (which started local, but now counts as a chain). I can still make my weekly stop to H&W, but Safeway and Superstore and Costco are out. I'm excited to search out local restaurants in my neighbourhood, and I've been meaning to make Earth's General Store my go to spot for groceries. I'm not sure where to get meat but this will be incentive to find a northside butcher. I panicked yesterday about toilet paper, but that's not a food! Now that the weather is nicer and I can get back on my speedy bike and the roads are clear, this should be fun!

I think I'll try do a weekly blog update too. I'm looking forward to this! Please leave your local restaurants and food vendors in the comments!

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