Dining during COVID-19: Andrew Coppolino's tips for getting local food online

Local producers are offering online ordering and delivery options.

CBC K-W's food columnist looks at how to nourish yourself in times of social distancing

Local producers are offering online ordering and delivery options. (Facebook)

Every week, thousands of people make their way to area farmers' markets to purchase fresh local produce, meats, cheese, baked goods and items such as milk and honey.

But a couple of weeks ago, access to the markets was cut off in order to facilitate social distancing measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While we can't possibly mention all food businesses, here is a short list of vendors with online stores for pickup and delivery; it has been impressive how quickly they've created alternate ways to shop.

Produce delivered to your door

A Kitchener Market vendor for about a year now, Milky Way Farm, located near Woodstock, has an online store through the farm website.

"Each week, we list what we have available for that week. You shop, checkout and pay online," said Jesse Way.

There is a delivery charge, but Way says they are re-assessing. Milky Way currently has salad mix, spinach, arugula, onions, garlic, carrots, beets and more that have been stored.

"We have some fresh produce currently growing in greenhouses that will be ready soon," Way said. "We've tried to keep the prices essentially the same."

Also from Kitchener Market is Gingerich Family Farms. They have spinach, salad mix, sweet potatoes, potatoes and carrots; the produce from their farm near Vienna, Ontario, is not certified organic but grown naturally.

A box of locally grown vegetables at Pfenning's Organic and More. (Facebook)

While they are not at local markets, a popular store in St. Agatha, Pfenning's Organic and More, has online shopping and delivery. They have produce and meats as well as grocery items. If the store is in your neck of the woods, it may be an option over busier chain grocery stores.

Green Hart Farms is a New Hamburg-based grower which had been selling at the Cambridge Market. As spring weather rolls in, it will soon be time to sign up for their "Hartshare" veggie box program for delivery to your door.

Along with other farms offering community-shared agriculture (CSA) programs for pickup or delivery, it's a good way to support local producers who can't as easily sell to restaurants at this time.

How to get seafood and meat delivery

All three markets have meats and seafood vendors, so check their websites for how they have transitioned to a new mode of selling.

Caudle's Catch Seafood was sold at all three markets. Their large retail store on Otonabee Drive remains open and they offer cold-packaged seafood delivery.

Cressman Meats at Kitchener Market has an online mode for ordering, while Charles Quality Meats at both the St. Jacobs and Kitchener markets can serve you from their retail store on Weber Street near King Street in Waterloo.

Co-owner Tony Lobrutto says that entry to the store is controlled to limit the number of customers, and they offer hand sanitizer if you want it.

They also offer call-ahead ordering with curbside pickup.

"Our stocks and supplies are good," Lobrutto said. "Yesterday, people were calmer, so that's good."

Like many local meat shops, Cressman Meats is open for online ordering. (Facebook)

The store also has frozen goods and food products from many local producers, some which were also at the markets.

"We've started doing evening deliveries for people in isolation or who don't want to come in the store," Lobrutto said.

Deliveries can impact how late the store stays open, he adds, so call ahead to confirm.

Brady's Meats and Deli in Waterloo, though not at the market, has re-structured business to include telephone ordering and curbside pickup.

Store hours have shortened and only five customers at a time are allowed inside.

Forequarter Butcher Shop in Kitchener also has online purchasing and pickup: allow 24 hours for processing, and you will receive an email telling you pickup is ready. They bring your order to your car.

A poultry retailer and wholesaler if not a butcher, The Poultry Place just off Lobsinger Line near St. Jacobs Market has delivery as well, including into Guelph.

For all your food and drink needs

There are numerous food companies with an online, pickup and delivery approach (I have a hunch there could be more in the future). For instance, The Sustainable Market has locations in Guelph and Waterloo region: order the (non-GMO) products you want online and choose from several pickup locations.

In Uptown Waterloo, Zero Waste Bulk is closed as a retail store for the time being, but they offer online purchasing and curbside pickup.

Long-established Bailey's Local Foods calls itself "Kitchener-Waterloo's online farmers' market" at Uptown Waterloo's First United Church: owner Maryrose Ivanco says she's completely revamped her business model.

"We will be pre-packing all the orders now and are planning for the flow of customers, as well coordinating the distancing between staff and farmers when they deliver products," she says.

While restaurants licensed to serve beverage alcohol can now sell alcohol with the food you order for takeout, more wineries have shifted to include deliveries, as have local brewers.

TWB Co-operative Brewing in Kitchener offers online ordering and free delivery with a minimum purchase; Block Three Brewing in St. Jacobs currently has free delivery of its products in the Region.

These selected businesses are emblematic of the larger industry's drive to stay alive in this time, but there are more than mentioned here: please check the farmers' market website for the contact information for your favourite purveyor.

A note: stores are aggressively sanitizing and working hard to ensure a safe environment for their customers, but they emphasize that shoppers need to do their part by following the guidelines and procedures they have put in place.

As we've experienced over the last couple of weeks, things change quickly. Please call the store you want to visit to see what their process is for maintaining social distancing and if the venue is open for business.