I believe our political leaders have it wrong. They’ve been clamouring for photo ops over the last few days of them buying beef at the local chain supermarket while ensuring consumers that the beef is safe to eat. This while the E. Coli recall expands almost daily. Here’s what I think they should be telling consumers. The days of cheap beef are over and we need to eat a lot less of it. We need to decentralize our processing facilities and reexamine our testing methods. We need to pay for skilled labour and training so we can limit the exposure of our beef to the bacteria. We need to move away from feedlot finishing because it results in higher concentrations of E. Coli. in cattle. We need to invest in many small processing facilities so that when this happens again, and it will, the impact will be much smalller because the output from a smaller plant will mean less beef that needs recalling. And finally they should be telling consumers that it’s up to them to know where their beef comes from. If their rancher or local store can’t tell them then they should take their dollars elsewhere. Albertans deserve to eat well raised animals, rich in nutrients, processed in safer and more attentive ways, in a system that makes the ranchers and processors providing it more sustainable. But you won’t hear that from a politician.
Rather shocking findings coming out of a study in France on the effects of GM corn here. Take particular note of the fact that a 90 day study, done by the biotech company, is required by Health Canada to approve a product. This new study looked beyond those 90 days and the findings are remarkable. Time to take labelling GM ingredients on packaging a little more seriously.
A little phrase had been driving me nuts for some time now and you see it on all kinds of menus. “_____ (fill in name of trend following restaurant) supports local producers and uses local products when possible.” It’s got to be one of the vaguest little sayings cooked up by some chain restaurant lawyers to make the diner feel like local farms are being supported. The catch is they don’t have to actually support local farms it if it’s not ”possible”. Possible in who’s mind? Really what they are saying is they won’t be using local products if it costs too much, if the ordering system isn’t easy to use, if the supply can vary, if it can’t be delivered to their door, if it doesn’t come already processed, if they don’t think they can sell it, or if the chef can’t get out of their kitchen and search out an actual farmer or two. I’m of the belief that anything is possible and I also understand the challenges of the food industry but this little phrase can make the diner think one thing when the reality is another. The local food movement is about sharing the sustainable bounty of the land and it’s people around us. Just do it instead of telling me you do it only when possible. And don’t even get me started on “How’s everything tasting?”!
I’ve just announced the 2011 Forage Farm Tour. Here’s the details:
Saturday, July 9th – 9:00AM to 4:30PM
Tour Buffalo Horn Ranch with Peter Haase, Eagle Creek Farm with John Mills, and Lund’s Organic Farm with Gert Lund all hosted by me.
Tour includes snacks for the road and lunch at Buffalo Horn Ranch (bison, salads, biscuits, cookies, etc.)
You MUST provide your own transportation. Maps and directions provided. Tickets are $70 plus GST – Call Forage to book your spot (403)269-6551
Maybe a little late to mention this but LOCAL 101 and LOCAL 201 are on for this weekend. I am glad to say that after 2 years of running the event, Slow Food Calgary has stepped in and taken over the event. I am speaking tonight and I’m on a panel tomorrow, but other than that I’m looking forward to sitting back and taking it all in for a change! Forage is a sponsor of the event and Forage will also be selling dinner between sessions on Saturday evening. Looking forward to connecting with the movement again!
It’s legendary stuff in the foodie world. Uni – or sea urchin roe – holds a place among foie gras as a delicacy and I hadn’t tasted it until the shellfish farm tour that the Pacific Kiss took us on. We were at our second stop on the tour, sampling our second oysters of the morning, when the farmer reached under the dock and pulled out a fist full of live sea urchins. He proceeded to crack them in half and offered us the freshest possible uni you can get. Being a uni virgin I was eager to try it. It was smooth, creamy, rich, and had all the best flavours of sweet lobster. I get it now. The problem though is nothing will ever be the same after having these ultimate experiences.
Just the beginning of reports on the weekend at the Canadian Chefs Congress.
We started Friday morning with a 45 minute boat ride from Campbell River to the other side of Quadra Island to the first of 3 shellfish farms. It wasn’t even 10AM and we were slurping oysters right out of the ocean.
Cinda Chavich has a very thoughtful article on Farmers Markets in the September issue of Avenue Magazine. She compiled a lot of information from across the country and mapped out the next steps that are needed here in Calgary. I’m planning a gathering of the leaders of the local food movement for October to start exploring the possibility of working together. More to come on that. Check out the article here.
It’s official. There’s another market being formed out of the relocation of the Calgary Farmers’ Market. Tim Hoven of Hoven Farms has spearheaded the new project and it sounds exciting. It’s still a shame that so many of the vendors have had to explore other opportunities when a more agreeable solution that would keep them together could not be found.
Check out the Fast Forward article here.
If you haven’t heard yet, the 2010 edition of LOCAL 101 is on for Saturday, March 13th. I think we’ve found a great venue that we’ll be able to grow the event at and it’s in our neighbourhood. We’ve got a great list of speakers for 101 and you are going to want to hear what the farmers and cooks have to say this year. We have also added LOCAL 201 – Connecting People in the Local Food Movement for the morning session. We are going to have a variety of people talk about all kinds of activities in the movement from urban beekeeping to plans for urban agriculture education farms followed by a panel discussion and lunch by Forage. For more information go to the Forage website and click on LOCAL 101. Tickets for 201 are $40 and 101 is $20 and are available only in advance from Forage.