Heritage Chicken Tasting in Toronto

January 16th, 2010

I heard on CBC the other day that there will be a Heritage Chicken Tasting event at Hôtel Le Germain, hosted by Slow Food Toronto.  What are heritage chickens you ask? They are the breeds of chickens from long ago that actually taste like chickens. In chicken farms nowadays, there are basically two types of chickens: one for their big oversized breasts and one for their year round egg-laying.  Not too much varieties. At this tasting, you’ll be able to try the Jersey Giant, Buff Orpington, Barred Plymouth Rock, and Americauna chickens. Apparently, the Jersey Giant was bred to be large like a turkey.

Here are the details:

Date: January 24, 2010

Time: 2pm

Location: Hôtel Le Germain, 30 Mercer Street

Price: $35 Slow Food members/$45 nonmembers

You can buy tickets from  U of T tix website.


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Looking for Farmers’ Markets?

July 2nd, 2009

Now that summer is officially here, all the local farmers’ markets are in full swing.

Here’s the post from last year that lists the Toronto area markets by days of the week.  

For those looking for markets in other parts of Canada, you can simply use our Find Local Food tool.  Just type in your postal code, the distance you’re willing to travel, check off “Market”, click “Search!” and Voila! It’ll show all the markets in your area on a map.

We’ve been enjoying the local organic strawberries from our CSA.  Unfortunately, the wildlife in our backyard got to the one(!) strawberry in our garden before we did.  We got our first garlic scapes in our CSA share this week, I think I’ll make spinach and garlic scape pesto with it tomorrow.


The Story of Strawberry

June 22nd, 2009

There was an interesting article in the Toronto Star yesterday about the journey of California strawberry - from the genetics lab in California to the local grocery stores all over North America.  It’s incredible/scary all the processes involved from seeds to fruit.  

Some interesting facts from the article:

  • there are over 200 genetically unique seeds on each strawberry
  • the growing season for Ontario strawberries is 5 weeks; in California, 9 months
  • each strawberry plant is engineered from a seed, put through heat treatment, humidity chamber, and travelled to mountains in Northern California for cooling
  • California strawberry fields are first fumigated with methyl bromide to kill all weeds, bugs and fungus to a depth of 2.4 metres (is this practice common in all commercial farming, or unique to strawberries?)
  • once picked, strawberries are cooled to 2 degree Celcius to prolong the shelf life to 10 days
  • the farthest city the California strawberries travel to is Toronto
The story of the strawberry is a lot more complicated than I thought. I don’t think it’s the way nature intended.   Having read the article,  I now appreciate the Ontario strawberries even more.

Ontario Strawberries are Here!

June 20th, 2009

I just bought my first pint Ontario strawberries from a local grocery store on Friday.  They are so juicy and red!  Josh’s mom has already made 15 jars of strawberry jam.  We’ll be making our first trip of the season to our favourite strawberry farm - Organics Family Farm for more strawberries tomorrow.

Here’s a list of strawberry farms on our site:

Toronto area:

London area:

Hamilton area:

Niagara area:

 Barrie area:

Kingston area:


Get fresh Strawberry Festival

June 20th, 2009

We’re a little late on the notice here, but there are 18 different strawberries festivals taking place in Ontario this weekend! Check out this website for more details - you can still make it on Sunday.


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Too expensive to stay local?

June 16th, 2009

local eating on a dime

This Globe and Mail article is an interesting look at how the “economic downturn” is making it harder for chefs to continue to use local ingredients. Based on the article it looks like we need to de-list Il Fornello since they have dropped their local menu.

Personally we’ve found that the cost of local food is not that noticeable an increase in our grocery bill. Certainly the CSA plan makes it less apparent since we’ve prepaid for all our vegetables in installments. Our meat is still purchased on a biweekly basis but Fresh From The Farm’s prices are quite reasonable. Their meat does not go on sale, but it’s not nearly as pricey as other local butchers we’ve been to.

Probably the most cost effective local eating strategy is to grow it all yourself. Our garden is much bigger this year but it’s certainly not enough to sustain us for the summer, let alone provide for our needs over the winter via canning. Still, it’s a good place to start. We recently saw a story on Global TV that interviewed some chefs who have roof-top gardens to supply herbs, etc to their restaurants. 

Another side-note on the effect of the downturn on the local food movement: do you think the “buy American” push is an ugly sister to buying local food, the same thing, or not at all related?


Second Annual EcoSavvy Festival

June 7th, 2009

There’s a free green event at Mel Lastman Square on June 19-20, hosted by Enlightened Events.  At the EcoSavvy Festival, you’ll learn all about the local green and responsibly made products and services.  There’ll also be live music, organic food sampling and DIY workshops.  Visit their website for more information.

EcoSavvy Festival


Rhubarb! It’s in season.

May 30th, 2009
Rhubarb I’ve always liked rhubarb. As we posted  in rhubarb season 2008 we made rhubarb sauce last year. Tanny just found a rhubarb website with a lot of potentially good recipes. Strawberry-rhubarb pie is always yummy, but we don’t have any local strawberries yet. So far the 2009 rhubarb recipe favourite is looking like Rhubarb Crumb Bars. We’ll post back with the results.

 


Oh no - sunburned tomatoes!

May 19th, 2009

Well, as Tanny reported yesterday we planted all our seedlings. After work tonight we checked their progress and, to our great dismay, the tomatoes are all limp and lifeless!! It appears we have not hardened our plants properly and they got sunburned under today’s blazing sun.

Hopefully they will recover - we’ve been dreaming of a tomato bounty for weeks.


Getting ready for more local eating

May 18th, 2009

Josh and I have just spent a lovely and productive Victoria Day weekend planting our newly expanded vegetable garden.  We’ve converted two of our flower beds to accommodate our 25 strawberry plants and 7 tomato plants, amongst other newcomers.  I’m very excited for our edible garden this year.  We actually started our seeds early enough this year and our tomato plants are over a foot tall already!  We also have a variety of herbs this year and our watermelon seedling is still alive!

Here’s a list of what’s in our garden this year:

  • tomatoes: black cherry, blanche beaute, new: yellow cherry, beefsteak and ruffled red
  • herbs: sweet basil, thyme, chives, cilantro and parsley
  • potatoes
  • garlic: five different varieties (one did not survive the fridge)
  • sweet red pepper
  • wax beans
  • sugar snap peas
  • carrots: scarlet nantes and Chanteny
  • veestar strawberries
  • blueberries: northland and northcountry
  • raspberries

not planted yet: golden midget watermelon

Our local CSA share starts up again in 3 weeks.  Soon, we’ll be back to eating all local, all the time.