Archive for the ‘General Info’ Category

Looking for Farmers’ Markets?

Thursday, 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

Monday, 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!

Saturday, 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:


Too expensive to stay local?

Tuesday, 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?


Local Food - the reality show?

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

My sister passed this link on to us. Apparently there is now a reality show that follows six families in Mission, BC who eat local for 100 days. They are following the “100 mile” diet which really kicked the local food movement into the mainstream based on James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith’s book. James and Alisa host the show.

Their website is pretty snazzy with lots to read and look at. I have mixed feelings about the show. Since we don’t have cable TV we don’t have the option of watching it, but post your reviews if you’ve seen the show.


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Maple Sugar Rush

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

This week we ventured out to the Kortright Centre conservation area for their Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival. Tanny and I have a special affinity for the Kortright Centre since we got married there but we have never made it to the Maple Sugar Festival. The centerpiece of the festival is a walk through the forest to visit several interpretation areas (with yummy samples). The guided walk is about an hour. We made our own way along the trail, eavesdropping on the tours when we met them and did it in less than an hour and really enjoyed ourselves. I think that if we didn’t have Ella with us we wouldn’t have taken the entire tour. Some interesting maple syrup facts:

  • Sap from the sugar maple tree is 97% water
  • The ratio of sap to syrup is 40:1!
  • In the old days you had to boil the sap for 24 hours to make syrup - continuously
  • Modern syrup making takes 6 hours
  • Maple trees are one of only four families of trees in Ontario that have opposite branches (i.e., branches and leaves come off the main stem in pairs on opposite sides of the stem). M.A.D. Horse is the way to remember these trees: Maple, Ash, Dogwood and Horse chestnut.

Tanny and I loaded up on maple sugar and maple almonds from their sugar shack. Ella was mesmerized by the pony ride but was a little too scared to get closer than 3m away.

The festival runs until April 13, 2009.

Maple Syrup Festivel Banner


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Seeds are in!

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

seeds from Seedy Saturday

Tanny, Ella and I went down to Seedy Saturday and picked up this year’s crop of veggies. Seedy Saturday was held at the Wychwood Barns this year and it was PACKED!

Our haul for 2009:

  • Tomatoes: Yellow Cherry, Beefsteak, Ruffled Red
  • Pepper: Lipstick Sweet Red
  • Herbs: Italian Large Leaf Basil, Thyme, Italian Parsely, Cilantro
  • Misc: Sugar Snap peas, Brittle wax beans, Scarlet Nantes carrots
  • Garlic: six varieties!

Making a return to the garden from last year:

  • Tomatoes: Blanche Beauty, Black Cherry
  • Sweet Basil
  • Midget Golden Watermelon

This weekend we started all the tomatoes, the basils, the thyme and the peppers. In a couple of weeks we’ll start the melons. The rest we’ll plant directly outdoors.

I’ve already started getting the yard ready for spring. I cleaned up the leaves and debris from our East and South yards (sounds bigger than they are) and some green flowers shoots are already peeking through! We had a nasty infestation of Viburnum leaf beetle that stripped both our snowball trees last year so I’ve been painstakingly pruning all the infected branches.

This year we’re going to convert one of our flower gardens into a vegetable garden since our current vegetable garden is really shaded. We’re also hoping to plant a second fruit tree (to replace a fallen tree) and some Veestar strawberries. It absolutely breaks our hearts to know that we have to clip the flowers from the strawberry plants the first year and won’t get strawberries until 2010!

If anyone has a recommendation for a native fruit tree that doesn’t suffer from neglect and insects but has a plentiful yield - please let us know!


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Why Sarah Palin is a locavore.

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

I’ve never read Slate magasine before though I’d heard it mentioned. I just happened to stumble upon the fact that Elliot Sptizer’s new job is a columnist on Slate. Poking around the site I found this article:

Why Sarah Palin is a locavore.

What I thought would be pure comedy was actually a mildly insightful article about the decline of hunting in America and the link of “frontier-style” hunting to local eating. Tanny and I would never be able to hunt for food and would surely both be vegetarians if left to our own devices, but the article has some interesting points.


Local Eating on CBC

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

This morning Tanny heard a story on CBC (Metro Morning, Toronto) about local eating. The host interviewed Jamie Kennedy. Link to the audio file is here. Let us know if it expires. UPDATE: The link has expired - thanks Laurel!

From Tanny:

Here’s the gist of it:  

Jane and Jamie discussed the local eating movement in the Toronto area, focussed mainly on the restaurant owner’s perspective. Jamie partnered with Thermador and worked with local growers to film vignettes showing his take on local eating and how you prepare a winter feast using locally grown produce.   Jamie is currently working with local growers to set up a chefs’ wholesale market at Evergreen Brickworks to make local produce more accessible to restaurants.  He hopes that by allowing the growers connect directly with the end users, the prices of local produce would become affordable for more people.  There’s a new winter farmers market in Toronto - Green Barn Farmer’s Market at Wychwood Heights.

 

 

 


Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 13th, 2008

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. Over the course of the weekend, I’ve made two interesting food discoveries - about chestnuts and pumpkins.

Josh’s parents have a great big chestnut tree in their front yard. This year, they managed to collect a few handfuls of chestnuts before the squirrels got to them. With the instructions on how to roast chestnuts in hand, freshly printed from a google search, the experiment began. While waiting for the chestnuts, I raved about the roasted chestnuts I used to eat in Hong Kong, freshly roasted in hot sand. They were delicious. When the chestnuts were finally ready, we all had a taste - the chestnuts were bitter and awful. Nothing like what I remembered. As it turns out, we had horse chestnuts, not the edible chestnuts. After a quick search on the internet, we learned that: horse chestnuts are slightly poisonous to humans, best left for the squirrels; the chestnuts with much spikier shells are the edible kind.

horse chestnut

Horse chestnuts. source: wikipedia

chestnut

Chestnuts. source: wikipedia

As part of our CSA share last week, we got a pie pumpkin. I’ve never made pumpkin pie with fresh pumpkin before, so I looked it up on the internet. Did you know that canned pumpkin puree is not made from pumpkins? It’s Dickenson Field squash, a squash that’s cross pollinated with the butternut squash. It has tan colour skin and bright orange flesh. It tastes just like pumpkin to me, but then again, I’ve never tasted “real” pumpkin.

Dickinson squash

Dickenson squash. source: Long Island Seed Project