The summer is finally here and with it a whole bunch of harvests. It seems like it’s going to be a bountiful one this year. If it wasn’t by the unusual 3-week Haskap rush that indicated it, then definitely by the early zucchini and broccoli harvests.
I can’t help but be inspired to use all of the fresh produce from the deliciously red and ripe strawberries to crunchy and dangerously sweet cucumbers to the plum and juicy tomatoes that are coming our way.
Here’s a couple of Summer inspired recipes I’ve come up with so far and it's only the beginning!
This past weekend I had a chance to be part of Taste Real’s 13th annual Local Food Fest at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph. I spent the whole day outside meeting local vendors, participating in workshops and indulging in some of the best tastes the Guelph region had to offer!
It was such a great and interactive event to attend and I am already looking forward to next year’s. In the meantime, here’s a little recap of the day in case you missed out on this amazing event.
If you are lucky, you may find this little but might berry at your farmers market. However, chances are, that you may have to travel out of your way to either the Sorauren Monday Market in Toronto or the Waterdown Saturday Market to get a taste of these rare berries.
So far I have only found one person that grows and sells them in the GTA and Hamilton area. Her name is Pat Kozowyk (Baba Link Farms) and she is the only farmer I know that grows the berry variety known as The Haskap.
Food is so powerful, “the food you eat can be either the safest & most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” - Ann Wigmore
At What’s Good Wellness, it is definitely not the latter. At their eatery, What’s Fresh Eatery, food is a part of the healing process. It aims to create a balance within the body of its consumer through a fusion of nutrition, mind, and body with traditional Chinese medicine, food cures, Chinese Herbal medicine and acupuncture.
My visit to What’s Good was nothing short of pleasant. I spent part of the afternoon chatting with Chef Charleston about food, health, and how traditional Chinese medicine switched the way he thought about and prepared food for himself and for others.
He reaffirmed in my believe that when cooking we should think about nutrition and not just taste—and that it is possible to have both. Let me tell you more about how we can use food not only to feed ourselves but to use it to restore and optimize our vitality!
You guys know that I LOVE supporting local.
The local businesses I support are unlike the chain stores we are so accustomed to seeing and shopping at. These local producers and vendors have a different mindset and it shows through everything they do and produce. They are not all just about the profit. They really care about realness and quality of their products!
The people behind these local businesses want to make a positive mark in their community. They have big hearts and big dreams to make this world a better and tastier place!
A big component for them is supporting their community by working with local producers and partnering with local vendors to provide us with the best product they can.
Plus their passion for what they do and produce is unmatchable!
As Earth Day approaches, there are just a couple of businesses that are shining through a little bit more in my eyes because of their waste-free and eco-friendly living mindset.
This Earth Day (and whenever you can) give some love to these awesome businesses!
Nothing like a Sunday morning enjoying some homemade pancakes with the Maple Syrup I picked up last weekend from my visit to Snyder Farms.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit my first sugarbush. I went up to Snyder Heritage Farms in Bloomingdale, ON to witness first hand how maple syrup was made!
It’s really a “tree to table” experience. The whole process happens right there on the farm. The maple trees are next to the sugar house where the sap gets transported to and then converted into syrup and packaged.
You can’t get more local or real than that!
As we enter Spring and wrap up Easter, we prepare ourselves to celebrate and say goodbye to Maple Syrup season.
During the first weekend of April, the Ontario Maple Syrup Producer’s Association hosts its annual Maple Weekend (April 7-8th this year from 10am to 4pm). This is a weekend that gives everyone the chance to experience first-hand how maple products are produced.
No “farm to table” here, we are talking about from “tree to table!”
Last week I had the pleasure to be invited to a wonderful dinner party at Langdon Hall. Now, if you don’t know about Langdon Hall, I will tell you that it’s truly a culinary gem in Ontario and perhaps in all of Canada.
The property itself is hidden amongst the trees; you have to follow the winding path before you reach the property that resembles a Chateau—you know like the ones in the French countryside.
Many things make Langdon Hall a focus of the culinary scene. First of all, their chef is Chef Jason Bangerter, the 2017 Pinnacle Award for Chef of the Year. Secondly, they source their ingredients from their own gardens and work with local farms and Ontario producers to source products like meat, eggs, and seafood.
“The cuisine at Langdon Hall starts with looking out our kitchen windows. It is inspired by the seasons, wild produce growing in abundance on the property and the bounty of our kitchen gardens. Relationships have been built with local farmers, foragers and artisans who hold similar beliefs of providing wholesome natural products that have been prepared with care and respect. “
(Langdon Hall, website, Chef Jason Bangerter)
Their menu and dishes change according to each season, which not only brings a sense to newness to the menu but you are always guaranteed the freshest and most real of ingredients. You'll never taste anything like the meals at Langdon Hall as their plates are inspired by history and past events, create interesting and unique combinations.
Langdon Hall creates an elevated environment for their guests, from the surrounding gardens to the creativity and ingenuity of its chefs, it is truly an extraordinary dining experience.
Now that you know a little more about Langdon Hall and Chef Bangerter, let me take you through the best local gastronomic experience I’ve had yet!
I get a warm tingly feeling when I think back to the days of early morning sunrises and Saturday Farmers Markets. Strolling through the farmers market on a Saturday morning, seeing what fresh harvest the farmers have pulled for the week, is really such a treasure. A treasure that unfortunately only lasts a couple of months for us here in Canada.
Wouldn't it be so amazing to have access to all the local fruits and vegetables all year round?!
Well...you actually can! They may just not be available in the same way that they would be during the spring and summer months.
What am I talking about? Preserves! Not just jams and jellies but fermented and pickled vegetables! This is a great way for Ontario produce to not only live all year round but increase its nutritional value as well.
During the summer season you can pick up extra vegetables (that way they are in season and a) taste better and b) are at a good price) and then pickle them yourself to last you through the winter. Another great option is to support local fermenters and producers by buying their preserves.
I also rely a lot of local food co-ops and farm stores who sell local vegetables and natural products. like micro greens, milks, cheeses, and meats. After trying and talking to many different vendors, I have grown to have a few favourites and go-to's. So for you guys who are wondering what and where to shop, I've compiled a list of all the spots I shop at regularly and trust!
Do you grow everything you sell yourself?
You should be asking at least this one question at every vendor stall you visit during your Saturday morning run to the market.
Don’t trust only on the signs that say, “grown in Ontario,” “fresh produce,” “organic,” not even if it says, “From our farm to you.” Being grown in Ontario can mean many things and it really isn't as transparent as it seems.
The produce may be "from Ontario" but from WHERE is the question—you want to know WHO is growing this food and his/her methods. The produce being grown in Ontario only means that it is local but it doesn’t tell you much else, you have to do a little digging.
Ontario produce can come from the Food Terminal, greenhouses, other farmers. You don't really know until you ask. If you think you are a buying produce that is 100% grown by your farmer, you may be surprised to find out that is not always the case. The Globe and Mail wrote a great article about the growing tensions at farmers markets with the rise of resellers and the unfairness this brings to real farmers.
"For farmers, the main issue is that resellers don't have to carry the high costs of running a farm, such as paying for labour and maintaining crops. This means they can often afford to undercut farmers and still go home with higher profits." Richa Syal, Globe and Mail, 2017.
We've become very naive and ignorant when it comes to our food. We need to stop being such trustworthy consumers when it comes to our food. How come we do so much research when it comes to getting a new phone or car? We should know more about not only food but where it comes from!
Yes, even at the market.
It hurts me to see so many people fall into the trap of resellers and think they are buying real fresh produce from local farmers!
That is why we must ask, ask, ask! I know, if only it were that simple! That's why I am here though, to help you! I am on this journey just like you and I have to ask these questions every time I go to a new market or I am buying from a new vendor.
But before I get to the questions, let's talk about the ask.
Asking is hard!
Why?: You feel like you are being rude or holding up the line or you simply don’t want to “intrude.”
The market is crowded. There are people who are regulars and know exactly what they are buying. There are others who don’t really care to talk to vendor and just want to buy. So naturally you may feel like you are in the way.
Well don’t worry about that. People can wait—everyone gets their turn and yours just may be 2 minutes longer, and it is okay! Plus, real farmers want to talk to you and they will make the time to give you the answers you need.
How you can make it easier:
Why you should do this:
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.