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Iqaluit eats well
Group seeks to start fresh food co-op

Stewart Burnett
Northern News Services
Saturday, October 3, 2015

Community members ate well with a bevy of fresh produce recently thanks to IqaluEAT, a group that hopes to start a full healthy foods co-operative in the capital.

NNSL photo/graphic

Mark Lucas, left, purchases some fresh produce from Murielle Jassinthe at the IqaluEAT farmers market Sept. 26. The market was packed with eager buyers who waited in a long line outside Nakasuk School. - Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

"We've been working at that since 2012," said Michel Potvin, spokesperson for IqaluEAT.

"We decided to hold a couple of public markets to gauge the interest."

On Sept. 26, the group hosted its fourth public market since 2014. If the long lines of eager customers waiting for their turn outside were anything to judge by, there is a lot of interest for such a venture in the city.

Nakasuk School was full with eager shoppers - 261 paying customers in total - during the recent farmers market.

Pierre Caron, one of 19 volunteers helping out with the market, remarked about the event's popularity.

"There are a lot of people for the amount of food we have," he said. "Everybody's happy to see all the fresh produce we have and variety."

Berries are always a top seller, said Potvin. The market also offers foods not usually available in Iqaluit, such as white asparagus, artichokes, fresh herbs and artisan breads.

"Our berries flew off the shelf like they always do, bagels as well and baguettes were quite popular," said Potvin. "Everything flew off the shelf. There was nothing left at the end. I think we had about a third of a case of green apples and a couple bags of carrots that we donated to a local daycare for snacks for the kids."

The Sept. 26 market offered 1,500 kg of food and more than 100 products, with a focus on fruits, vegetables, cheese and bread.

"We always try to offer a good variety as well, and less packaging because we try to be more environmentally friendly," said Potvin.

"Our goal is to provide quality food, focusing on fresh fruit and vegetables, at the best possible price."

The group, which receives financial and logistical support from Carrefour Nunavut and Resefan, purchases produce from primarily Ontario and Quebec markets through an Ottawa-based shipping company.

IqaluEAT intends to hold another farmers market this fall, while the group looks into an economic feasibility plan for a co-operative down the road.

That future co-op could take many forms, from a full bricks-and-mortar store to a bi-weekly bulk delivery service.

"It's a big project," said Potvin. "There are a lot of logistics involved. We want to make sure it's feasible financially. We intend to hold more markets in the next year and probably have a good idea where we're going in about a year's time."

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