There is something so reassuring about knowing the person who grows your food, in my case John Weatherhead, from Waratah Downs farm, feeds my family. We have a year-round family tradition of going to the Ottawa Farmers Market every Sunday morning. It is our family time, we choose our food, eat breakfast or snacks and spend time outside (or inside, in the winter), and it's lovely.
We choose to eat as much food from local sources as possible. If I have to choose between conventionally grown food, organic food or local food, I will always choose locally grown food. Local food is fresher than anything you can get from the grocery store, meaning it has a higher concentrations of nutrients. Eating locally also means that you eat what is in season; not only do you get more nutritious food, but you also get tastier food. By shopping at the farmers market, we get great food, have conversations with the farmers and reduce packaging waste - no plastic packaging, no bags; only cloth bags and yummy food.
During the summer, we use the farmers market to supplement our CSA box (community supported agriculture) with meat and chicken, cheese and fruit. I hear a lot that shopping at the farmers market is more expensive than the grocery store. This could not be further from the truth. In reality, farmers generally price their produce at market value (but get more in their pockets than they would selling through a third party). The difference is in the pricing - generally pricing at the grocery store is weight based, so produce appears to be cheaper, whereas at the farmers market charge per pint or quart (e.g. $3 for a pint of tomatoes), and so the prices appear to be more. I assure you, they are not - in fact, go and talk to the farmer and ask them!
Obviously, I live in Ottawa, Canada - which, if you don't know, is pretty chilly during the winter. Nonetheless, the farmers market is our first stop for groceries. It is open year-round, and you can even get fruit (mostly pears) and greens (spinach and sprouts) almost all winter, in addition to all the root veggies your heart could desire. BUT, I can't get everything I need from the market (though I wish I could), so I also rely on the grocery store as well as some amazing companies that have great products.
My flour, grains and beans come from GRAIN; they are a company based in British Columbia that sole source products from Canadian farmers. They also mill the flour fresh to order and seriously, there is nothing better than fresh flour. I buy chickpeas, lentils, black beans and anything else they have in stock, in large quantities - fresh beans cook a lot more quickly than the old grocery store beans, and they taste great. I like to cook big batches and then freeze them for quick and easy use later on.
I get my most of my spices specially delivered by family from Iran (oh man, they are so good!); I try to get them whole and then I roast and grind them as needed. For the spices that I can't get from there, I rely on a few companies: Cardamon and Cloves is an Ottawa company that sells spices online, they have a ton of options and some delightful blends. I also like Level Ground (they sell coffee and rice as well) and Cha's - which is my go to brand for coconut milk.
I rely on Maison Orphée for all of my cooking oils and vinegars - they are a Montréal-based company and have high quality oils and reliable information on their source and how to use them.
If you think that is a long list of places and it all seems overwhelming, here are my tricks: order in bulk from the places online so that I only do it infrequently. The market is a fun outing on Sundays and then... wait for it... I supplement anything else from the grocery store. I really like Herb & Spice for nuts and other bulk items and we also shop at Superstore - online!
As a mom of a toddler and a 2 month old, I am pretty busy and so is my husband, so we work smarter not harder and do our additional groceries online with Click and Collect. I buy things that are not available in Canada (or in the winter) like citrus, pineapple, bananas, pomegranates, some greens, organic milk, and anything else I might need for the week. I shop online and pick a convenient time to pick up and then my husband picks it up, either on the way home or during other errands. The whole process takes maybe 10 minutes from pulling up at the parking spot to loading your own! cloth bags into the car. It's great!!! You can specify details, like how ripe you want your avocado or how you don't want plastic produce bags and then someone else does your groceries. In addition to saving time, this also prevents the impulse buys and allows for some excellent planning - love this service!
So that, in a nutshell, is where I get my food. I get as much as possible sourced locally or from Canadian companies and then I supplement from the grocery store with items that don't grow in Canada. I always try to select items that are in season and choose whole foods as much as possible.