Happy Wednesday, friends!
Sorry for the long absence, guys. Life got busy and my blog posts became less frequent. However, since today is the 7th, it is once again time for my monthly post as part of the Canadian Food Experience Project. For those of you who are new to the Canadian Food Experience Project, the series began on June 7, 2013 and involves a collection of monthly articles written by food bloggers, writers and enthusiasts on pre-determined Canadian food topics. The project aims to help us explore and share our Canadian food identity.
The challenge for August is to write about our local Canadian food hero. As I started to think about this topic, I found myself in a bit of a panic. I am not closely acquainted with any local farmers, producers, chefs or bakers – what would I write about? In fact, I am a chartered accountant who spends Monday through Friday working in a tall downtown office tower, as far away from anyone involved in the production of local food as possible. However, this somehow doesn’t stop me from being hugely passionate about eating healthy, local foods. In fact, I’ve always had a weird fascination with anything rural (when I was young, while other girls dreamed of marrying movie stars, I dreamed of marrying a farmer ). And now, as an adult, I find it extremely important to cook meals from scratch, know exactly what I am eating and where the ingredients came from. So while I can’t say I am closely acquainted with any local farmer/producer/chef/baker, I can safely say that I am truly grateful for all the talented individuals in the Edmonton area who help us city dwellers develop a deeper understanding of where our food comes from. These are the my “food heroes.”
There are local farmers and gardeners like those at Happy Acres U-Pick and Billyco Junction. They value chemical-free growing and welcome anyone to stop by for an afternoon of picking strawberries, saskatoons and honeyberries. This not only allows people like me to fill their pails (and freezers) with berries that are bursting in flavour and nutrients, but allows families to bring their children along to learn about local agriculture.
There are producers which reliably bring their produce to local farmer’s markets so us city dwellers, who often have little opportunity to plant and harvest our own gardens, can take advantage of the season’s bounty. Their market stands become a regular stop for many. I can personally attest that we’ve been getting our weekly haul of fruits and vegetables from producers like Steve and Dan’s and Gull Valley Greenhouses all summer, using their produce in everything from weekday lunches to dessert creations.
There are also organizations like Taste Alberta that put on wonderful events like Farm to Fork. The event, held this July, allowed regular city folks like us to meet regional producers like Patrick and Cherylynn Bos of Rock Ridge organic dairy. We toured their farm and learned about the processing of goat and cow milk and cheese. We were able to put a face behind the milk carton we may have already been buying at Blush Lane. Plus we got to pet the cute goats!
While on the Farm to Fork tour, we also had a chance to stop at Brown Eggs and Lamb, a local farm near Lacombe. Cal and Laura welcomed us into their farm even though we arrived after official tour hours. They treated us to some homemade saskatoon tarts and openly told us all about their experience with hens and sheep – they even let us hold their chickens. Brown Eggs and Lamb also has a small shop on site where anyone can purchase their eggs and lamb. They also carry ground flours, local dairy and pasture-fed meats from other nearby producers.
These experiences are so valuable. Being able to visit the farm where you obtain your food from allows you to build a relationship with the producer, feel confident in the quality of food you are purchasing and solidify a clear connection between farm and food. Thank you to everyone who let us into their farms that day!
Lastly, there are our friends and family, who support us in our pursuits of healthy, local food. Friends who are willing to share their knowledge on where to find wild blueberries or how to identify edible mushrooms.
Family members like my mom, who has the biggest green thumb and so much generosity that she won’t let us leave her home without filling our car with her own amazing, local harvest.
And significant others like my own urban farmer, who puts up with me while I insist on spending countless hours of our preciously limited free time washing, sorting and freezing local summer produce so we can enjoy it when the summer is long gone.
So thank you to all of my local food heroes – my pursuits at eating healthy and local would definitely not be the same without people like you!