March Challenge: Eat Local in Edmonton Week 1

My first week of buying food from local vendors turned out mostly good, with minimal guilt!

I was near the southside location of Earth's General Store on my way back from the airport last Monday, so I stopped in to get my weekly groceries. I'm pretty well stocked at home so only needed fruit and a few other ingredients. Earth's General Store is a locally owned organic shop with huge environmental leanings. I've shopped there on occasion for years for various things like my stainless steel Klean Kanteen water bottle, natural and chemical free shampoos and soap and other health supplies, and it's my go to place for bulk soaps etc to fill empty containers. But I don't usually shop there for food, mostly because the southside location is not convenient, and while the downtown store is closer, I'd have to really plan a trip on my bike properly to haul stuff home.

Their fruit was more expensive than my local H&W produce market, but it was good quality - except they didn't have bananas. And I had to change up my meal plan for the week because they didn't have honey garlic sauce. This I predict will be a problem - I rely on jars and cans of sauces and they're harder to find outside of the big supermarkets. One solution would be to buy ingredients to make my own sauces of course. I also needed almond milk, which caused me to panic when I saw the price: I can buy almond milk for much cheaper by the case at Costco or Superstore. While I bought a container, I'm not sure if I'll be continuing this habit in the future. Earth's General Store may become part of my regular buy local routine though. They're good people. I'll need to think about how I can do the downtown store on my bike on my way home from work, which will mean potentially getting out of my weekend grocery shop and switching it to a Friday or Monday. Something to ponder.

On Saturday, I headed out to do my weekend shop and man was I full of anxiety. I needed toilet paper and a few other things, plus I had to run a couple errands and I didn't have much time at all. I hadn't had time to run reconessance on the local Lebanese grocer, and the Latin and Italian grocery stores were in the opposite direction from my errands, and I was just unsure who would have all the ingredients I needed. So after my trip to H&W for fruits and vegetables, I went to Safeway. Fail. And man, did I ever feel guilty about it (I guess that's the point of such a challenge eh?). So, on my home I stopped at the Elsafadi Market, and sure enough, they had everything I had already bought (except the brand of toilet paper I buy). In the future, I think Elsafadi would work quite well for the few non-fruit/veg groceries I need to pick up as the selection was ok and the prices seemed comparable. I'll certainly stop there again. And after Elsafadi, I stopped at Sunbaked Pita Bakery for a couple dozen fatayers. Guilt alleviated. Reconessance ran. It'll be less of a fail next weekend.

This week I was supposed to go to Prairie Noodle Shop, but my friend bailed and I stayed home. The day after, I had eaten my lunch by 11am and dinner by 4pm, so when my massage therapist mentioned I should go for Vietnamese noodles after our appointment, how could I not?! I stopped at Nam Kitchen, a local hole in the wall Vietnamese restaurant near my place. I'd been there before but couldn't remember if it was any good. Luckily it was fairly tasty, and the MSG didn't bother me too much so I'll probably be back for another noodle bowl at some point.

On Friday, colleagues decided they needed to go out for happy hour wine, so we went to Parlour, which is right near work. Parlour isn't small business per say, but it is owned by a local hospitality group that owns a number of large restaurants around town. So I didn't feel too guilty, as it sort of meets the criteria. I've been to Parlour before and am not super enthusiastic about their pizza, but it was $5 off happy hour so I win.

On Sunday, I met someone for coffee at Remedy Cafe, a locally owned small chain that serves chai and indian food. It was tasty as always!

Later in the week I needed bus tickets and bought some at the Petro Canada station. Afterwards, I felt super guilty I didn't go to a local shop - and then remembered my challenge only applied to food. And I ran out of toilet paper - which caused me to panic, but again, not food. Check out I Heart Edmonton who is doing a #buyYEG challenge for everything this month too.

This has got me thinking about how I can spend more at local businesses for more than just food. So a few days into a 31 day challenge and I was already upscaling out of scope!