'Why are we buying B.C. carrots when there are all these Manitoba farmers who are dying to connect with the city people and get their carrots used?'- Marnie Feeleus

Today in Winnipeg local organic food may seem like old news. 

But that wasn’t so a mere 11 years ago when Marnie Feeleus first started her food delivery business.

“There wasn’t a lot of local organic food being purchased. There were farmers markets, but they hadn’t taken off like they have now,” said Feeleus, the owner and president of Fresh Option Organic Delivery.

A former chef in the city, Feeleus had noticed most of the local organic food being grown — which she and fellow epicureans were looking for — was primarily being bought, sold or traded in the rural communities where it was produced.

So she joined the Organic Food Council of Manitoba, which had just been established in 2000, and started to make contact with smaller organic farms that were looking to find a market in the city.

Organic food

A typical February food bin from Fresh Option Organic Delivery. (Mike Green)

“We were created to be an alternative distributor that catches those smaller producers that just aren't able to sell into the big distribution systems,” said Feeleus. “I just said, ‘Why are we buying B.C. carrots when there are all these Manitoba farmers who are dying to connect with the city people and get their carrots used?’”

Starting quite small in 2003, Fresh Option Organic Delivery has become an award winning business that supplies restaurants, institutions and the residential market through scheduled deliveries.

A residential food bin will run a household $35 to $65 for a weekly bin, with a mixture of all certifiable organic fruits and vegetables and the option of adding on other foods.

Being 100 per cent organic means it can’t be totally local, although each week they lay out exactly where the fruits and vegetables have come from via province, state and country of origin labelling on their website.

“It would be really onerous on people as they’d have to change and give up a lot to do everything 100 per cent local,” said Feeleus. “But we always try to buy the one closest to home. So if there are Manitoba beets, we’re not going to buy the B.C. ones, and if B.C. is the closest we can get, we’re not going to get the California ones.”

And as Feeleus admits, you can’t deny people their weekly bananas; organic eaters will never give up their smoothies.

Hear food dude Mike Green on The Weekend Morning Show with host Terry MacLeod on Saturday February 8.