bananas are the most responsible choice out there anyway...) Aside from finances, I didn't go too crazy because the certification and oversight just wasn't there, so you could be paying more but not really know what you are getting. It is still not perfect but there have been improvements.
Then, about three years ago, as my awareness grew and I started looking into things further, I started thinking: do I really need red peppers that were grown in Chile? So I began to pay attention to where things were grown and tried to choose produce that was either (in order of preference): grown locally, in my province (or neighbouring province, I am close to the border), or in my country. I still purchased limes from Mexico and yes, peppers from Chile or Holland. Don't even ask me about the wine (oh alright, usually Italy).
Ontario is an amazing province for its agriculture but even the southern parts have a fairly short growing season. So I didn't get fanatical, I just tried to make informed decisions. I bought more turnips, beets, celeriac, and carrots during the winter and passed by the peppers more often. The citrus fruit, I rationalized, at least came from the same continent. I still use that rationalization; I really think I need my oranges! And when you think about it, I AM closer to some states than I am to some provinces within Canada.
All this to say that I'm not perfect and, truthfully, I don't aim to be. Our distribution system and, I admit, sense of entitlement do not make perfection a realistic target. But I try. I make conscious decisions
Things get complicated. Consider, what has less environmental impact, what is more sustainable:
1) produce grown locally, in the "off" season, in a greenhouse, with the watering systems and fertilizers that need to go along with such an operation, or
2) produce grown further away, in the dirt, likely with less need for 'artificial' irrigation but will need to be transported.
Hmm. Also consider the respective sales agents for these two "products". One is likely a farmers market, the other a big-chain supermarket. And many countries depend on the export of certain products, including us. Ugh. You can't win sometimes.
And because you can't win, I decided I would just always try to do the best I can. I love food and believe strongly in supporting local farmers for many reasons. I've accepted that these two are sometimes at odds with one another. I made the BEST pad thai a couple weeks ago. There is no way I could do that without tamarind, lime, fish sauce, or palm sugar. Not sure I could give that kind of thing up.
One step in the right direction has been to get regular produce deliveries from a local organic farmer, Bryson Farms. These guys have a great system down. They deliver to your door year round. I've been wanting to get on "the list" for over a year but they had some issues a little over a year ago. Since we were looking to buy a house I put off following up with it until we moved. I've been on a waiting list since July and last week we got our first delivery. Yesterday was our second delivery and I was so excited to get home to see what goodies we had.
Starting from the bottom left, moving clockwise (roughly):
Parsnips, red & golden beets, multi-coloured carrots,
turnips, red & white onions, sweet potatoes/yams,
fingerling potatoes (large & mini), pea shoot micro-greens,
garlic, squash, and full circle with kale beside the parsnips.
There is also a bag of mixed greens between the mini potatoes and pea shoots.
Yum! And we get to do it all again next week!