Ontario honey

{Locality} is a Lifestyle

Today’s (last-minute pulled-together) post is kind of a continuation of what I talked about last week in my “Changing {Locality}” post: the values of “Local,” or in my case, {Locality} doesn’t necessarily have to do with the area that I’m living in. Rather, it’s about a mindset that values what is around you, wherever you are.

I realize this is a growing trend in some hip, cool communities, but I think that not enough people are aware that it’s the small businesses that make our society great. Sure, the big stores and big names are easy to find and easy to shop at, but wouldn’t you rather know you’re putting food on a local business owner’s table instead of lining the pockets of some corporate bajillionaire?

No, I’m not soap-boxing, but there is a LOT to be said for small businesses. Get ON that!

This also coincides with my recent rise to official status at the Ruralist. I have yet to publish my first post, but many of the posts have been edited by yours truly, and I am behind the scenes in other ways, too. In fact, I am proud to announce my new title: “Editor and Social Media Consultant.” Sounds spiffy, doesn’t it?

The official status was made possible by an internship, thanks to the MIT (no not that MIT) internship coordinator at Western, the “fairy jobmother” herself, Susan Weekes. But reality is, we kinda just needed a reason, a way, for me to jump on board in an official capacity. And here we are.

That being said, if you still haven’t checked out the Ruralist, again, I urge you to ask yourself what you are waiting for!

These are my favourite {Locality}-related posts to date:

Inside the Arva Flour Mill

Hive fashion

Shop Local Infographic

Ontario honey

What’s your favourite {Locality} candidate?

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changing locality

Changing {Locality}

changing locality

My geographical locality has changed since my last {Locality} post. I’m no longer an official resident of Huron County. My new county has the word “sex” in it: Middlesex. A respectable enough county name, though one rarely thinks of the county when one is in a city.

The transition has been odd. Not only did I move from the country to a city, but I also moved in with my boyfriend, a big enough life transition in and of itself. The “me to we” transition, as my “mother-in-law” Deb put it, hasn’t been that big of a deal (though perhaps I should add a “yet” to that). After more than two and a half years as a serious couple, we were already used to living life together, even from two different geographic locations.

What keeps causing me to bug out is the staying in London. I think if it were any other city that I wasn’t so familiar with, it would be different, but because I have known London for so many years–gone there for shopping and movies, attended university, gone for medical appointments and to visit family members at the hospital, etc.–as a place you go to and leave again, it is very odd to just stay, to not get in the car and make that very familiar trek north up Richmond or Highbury or Hyde Park, aiming for Ontario’s West Coast.

Regardless of my physical location, however, {Locality} continues to be important to me. No longer does it refer specifically to Huron County–it now has everything to do with what is local wherever I am, wherever you are. From now on, {Locality} posts will extend across Ontario, perhaps even across Canada, North America, or the world!

{Locality} is a mindset that avoids box stores, large corporations, and that aspect of democracy that tends to put money before people. It champions the owner/proprietor, the entrepreneur, the organic farmer, the rural shop, the one-off boutique, the people with personality and heart that you love to see again and again.

It can exist wherever you are, country or city, big or small.

I will continue to champion the rural, the small-town, the “back home,” but I undoubtedly will find places in my new locale that can pass the muster side-by-side with the Bayfields and Goderiches of rural Ontario.

In fact, stay tuned for an announcement tomorrow that underscores my dedication to all things rural Ontario!

shop local infographic

From Ruralist.ca: 8 Reasons to Shop Local (an Infographic)

You already know that I get excited about local and rural shops, but here is a beautiful graphic worthy of printing and hanging on your fridge or desk or wherever you might look at it, to remind you that while box stores might be convenient, the local store is where it’s at:

shop local infographicLet’s start a revolution: pass it on!

Ruralist

{Locality} The Ruralist

Ruralist

No, I’m not done writing my papers, but I love the Locality series too much to let it drop during finals season. Besides, The Ruralist doesn’t need much introduction or explanation.

The Ruralist was envisioned by my friends Erin Roy and Erin Samuell (no, not every cool person in my area is my friend, but I’m proud to say many of them are). These two with-it and savvy local businesswomen are trend-spotters and with this website, they have become trend-setters.

They realized that there was a need for a curated collection of the best items from the best little stores across rural Ontario (and maybe someday the rest of Canada?), a sort of Etsy for unique finds and experiences you can’t get in the city. This site is for those urbanites who imagine the country as one big pile of cow dung and need the gems pointed out to them by someone in the know, someone who can view those gems through the lens of the personal touch and great design.

That Perfect Piece

It’s for those “ruralistas” like myself and my friends, family, and readers who are from rural areas but refuse to associate with the image of cow-tipping, straw-chewing, “ain’t”-saying hicks. Sure, there are hicks, and we love them for the flavour they bring to our community, but we believe we have culture, too. We have style. We love quality. We are unique and proud of it.

The Ruralist website was soft-launched a week ago, as was their Facebook page, so you can be one of the lucky readers who knew about this project when…! Subscribe to the blog and “Like” the Facebook page to see the eye candy they are posting, and start to get proud of rural Ontario. If you’re not already on the bandwagon, that is.

Ruralist promise

In a few months, the Ruralist site will have a shop aspect to it so that you can click through and see all of the shops across Ontario that have been Ruralist approved, and connect directly to their websites. Meanwhile, there is a steady stream of great photography (Erin Samuell IS one of Canada’s best, after all), lovely design, and an inspiring collection of things to do, see, taste, and so much more.

Oh, and if you search the Ruralist for “Sarah”, you’ll see my face! 🙂 You might even see more of me as time goes by.

What are you waiting for? Rural Ontario is waiting.

~~~

PS: If you (or someone you know) are a rural Ontario business-person and you think you’ve got something the Ruralist editors would love, or you’re interested in purchasing a micro-site in the upcoming Ruralist shopping section, send me a message telling me about your business and what you think the Ruralist editors would love about it. If I agree with you (;)), I’ll pass your message on to Erin and Erin.

Good Food Box

Locality: Huron Good Food Box

I picked up my first Good Food Box yesterday! Okay, my friend Hayley picked it up for me on Thursday, but I picked it up from her.

I’m excited to a) get more involved in my community, b) pay less than supermarket prices for produce, c) get better than supermarket value for produce, and d) eat locally-grown produce!

My box this month includes: red potatoes, apples, a cucumber, carrots, a coleslaw mix of chopped cabbage and carrots, a large turnip, a bag of mixed onions,  and some Weth mushrooms.

Good Food Box

A booklet with information and recipes was included, too.

I’m really impressed and I can’t wait to start eating this food!

Recipes, etc.

Do a Good Deed

And, as a bonus, I learned that you can purchase a Good Food Box for people that can’t necessarily afford one. Hayley told me that there was a month when she wasn’t able to pick up her box on the distribution day, and found out later that it had been donated to a family who had not eaten for a few days. Chances are, that family would have been forced to survive on Kraft Dinner and pork & beans before Hayley’s unwitting gift.

Do a good deed: buy a Good Food Box for your family, and one for another family if you can!

Distribution Sites and Payment Information

You can currently order and pick up your Good Food Box in Bayfield, Blyth, Clinton, Exeter, Ethel, Goderich, Grand Bend, Hensall, Seaforth, Vanastra, Wingham, and Zurich.

One box costs $15 cash (no cheques).

For April, order and pay for your box by Friday, April 6th, and pick it up on Tuesday, April 17th.

In May, order and pay by Friday, May 4th, and pick it up on May 17th.

For more information, visit the Huron Good Food Box website, “Like” them on Facebook, email them at goodfood@huroncounty.ca, or call the Infoline at 519-482-3416, extension 2244.

 

In light of my post about Gingerich’s organic eggs a few weeks ago, this post is fantastic. Thanks to Rachel of rachels-table.com for this enlightened post!

Rachel's Table

Yeah, I went there. (Thanks to my darling husband for suggesting such a mind-blowingly smart title.)

Weekends are for two things: sleeping and big breakfasts. Well, maybe only for big breakfasts if you have kids. I don’t, so I sleep in and then eat a big breakfast.

This past weekend I decided to try a little experiment. Yes, with eggs. One egg was free range, pasture fed, hormone and antibiotic free. The other was the grocery store brand. Here are the eggs in question:

I took these eggs and fried them:

Notice the first egg. It looks like a nice enough egg and is frying up splendidly. But notice the second egg. Look at that yolk! It is such a lovely shade of gold-ish orange!

Guess what I discovered after my very serious eggsperiment? The grocery store egg didn’t taste like much, but the free range egg tasted like the…

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Local Huron County apples

Locality: Getting excited about what’s in your backyard

Local Huron County apples
Local Huron County apples

Though this series is only a few weeks old, the majority of my blog feedback since I posted about Coastal Coffee Company has been in response to local stuff, and it’s getting exciting! Other people are catching on that sometimes the best thing around isn’t the big-name from-the-city brand; it’s 20 minutes from you. It’s in the store with the homemade sign. It’s at the farmer’s market.

The little guys, though they often have the best products and services and events, are usually unable to compete with the marketing budgets of the big kahunas.

That’s where I come in, and other bloggers and local writers like myself. We need to be the voices for the local businesses, using our resources to promote them, to keep our rural and local communities alive.

Your job is to use your social media and your networks to share stories like the ones I post, and also to try local products, to visit farmer’s markets and farm produce stands, etc.

I heard on the CBC recently that if every household committed to buying something like 10 – 25% local goods, it would be the equivalent of taking several hundred cars off the road every year. That’s a lot of gas consumption and emissions we’d be preventing!

If you’re not sure where to start, check out the following:

 

Expressions

Locality: Expressions Hair Design, Bayfield, Ontario

 

Expressions
Expressions is a charming combination of the unexpected and the vintage.

There’s nothing quite like sitting in a small local hair salon, as the stylist talks about children and parents and pets with the client seated in her chair. You get absorbed in the pretty people on the pages of Vanity Fair or House & Home as your hair colour steeps above your cape-clad shoulders and music plays just loud enough to prevent silence from reigning, and the conversation blends with the music to become a pleasant background buzz. Beautification is happening.

Beautification is happening
Natali at work: Beautification is happening

Beautification is essential for the modern woman, but a local, small-town salon where you know your stylist and there are no huge corporate endorsements hanging on the walls does something for the soul as well as the follicles.

Here at Expressions Hair Design in Bayfield, Ontario, the smell of peroxide and hair dye mingles with that warm breeze aroma of freshly blow-dried hair as owner and stylist Natali Tarnowski goes busily about her business of washing, cutting, drying, curling, and chatting.

Expressions is a gem hidden away in the side of one of the buildings on the heritage Main Street of Bayfield, and Natali is a gem of a proprietor. None of her clients, old or young, seem fazed by the young stylist’s close-cropped bright cherry red hair, the rose tattooed on her throat, her other tattoos and piercings, or her fantastically individual style: pastel tie-dyed t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up a-la-5o’s-greaser, and skinny dark grey jeans tucked into beige leather lace-up, pointy-toed boots.

Vintage cash register
Vintage cash register

Natali is the heart and soul of Expressions, but seated in her chair and listening to her talk, you’d think you were. I went in for a much-needed haircut (and surprise colour) today. It was only my second visit, but I now know why my friends from miles around head to Bayfield to get Natali to cut their hair: she’s sweet. And she’s good!

You can find Expressions Hair Design on Facebook, or call Natali at 519-565-5800 to make an appointment. Make sure to let her know that you read my blog. 🙂