|Fresh Off The Farm|
Why the local food movement is the best way to get from the field to your fork
Story and Photographs by Krista McRae
There is something big happening in the West. Visit any quadrant of your city Thursday to Sunday and you’ll see it. The local food movement is growing and farmers’ markets are getting busier every season. And there are many other resources, such as Slow Food Canada, with both Calgary and Vancouver having local chapters.
This is a non-profit organization that helps make connections between consumers, chefs, food processors, and producers of sustainable agriculture and products, as well as building awareness of local farmers’ products and the restaurants that support them.
Purchasing locally grown foods supports our economy, promotes a fair living wage for farmers, protects the environment by buying food that is naturally grown without pesticides or fertilizers, and transporting locally means fewer emissions. On top of that, local produce has increased nutritional benefits. Aside from being pesticide, hormone and antibiotic-free, fresher food is more nutrient dense. Produce that has been harvested too soon and sits in a grocery store to ripen loses much of its vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Of course, the catch is local food costs more. But the key is in understanding why.
To produce large quantities of food cheaply, companies use chemicals to control weeds and pests instead of organic options, which can be labour- and space-intensive.
There are other ways to reap the benefits of buying locally without visiting a farmer’s market every weekend. Community Supported Agriculture, known as CSA, is a program of mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters.
It links people directly with their source of food, providing them with the most fresh, sustainably produced food.
Members purchase a share in the season’s harvest and receive a weekly package of food at various pick-up points.
By paying for the produce up front, you are helping farmers cover start-up costs. Grow Good Things is a Calgary farm co-operative that grows organic, heirloom, and special varieties of produce.
Vancouver’s City Farm Boy is an urban CSA, where produce is grown on a collection of front and backyard plots owned by Vancouverites.
With dozens of options at my disposal (Calgary, Vancouver and surrounding areas each have at least 10 markets), I recently spent a Saturday at some of Calgary’s farmers’ markets. I chose all locally grown produce and meat, and our family spent the weekend eating delicious, fresh and nutritionally superior meals. Here’s a taste of our fresh feast:
1 Tbsp canola oil
In skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, stirring often, until softened. In large bowl, mix together egg, breadcrumbs, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir in onions, then bison; mix until just combined. Shape into four 3/4-inch (2 cm) thick patties. Place patties on greased grill over medium heat; close lid and grill, turning once, until no longer pink inside and digital thermometer inserted sideways into centre reads 160F (71C), about 10 minutes.
CAPRESE ORZO SALAD
2 cups sliced tomatoes, in a variety of colours
Cook orzo according to package directions. Rinse with cold water. In large bowl, toss together orzo, tomatoes, basil and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with
Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in cottage cheese and milk. Meanwhile, roast the pepper in the oven for 10 minutes or until skin browns. Peel and chop. Stir pepper and broccoli into egg mixture.
Krista McRae is a Calgary nutritionist and wellness consultant. You can reach her through www.kin-etics.com.
July/August Issue 2011