Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Waste A Pumpkin Day!

I love the Halloween for the dressing up and make believe and the all around ghoulishness of it all. However, I hate the fact that folks are buying food for decoration and are only going to add to the landfill tomorrow. The cool pumpkin carving exhibit that came to town last week aside, most jack o' lanterns are a waste of a perfectly good vegetable. So at least, compost your decapitated pumpkin head when you're done.

Call me a Hallowe'em Scrooge but I'd rather that those pumpkins be grown and bought as pie pumpkins or stew pumpkins or casserole pumpkins or ice cream pumpkins (yes, there is such a thing.)
I'm not the only one. Iowa believes that pumpkins that are going to be used as decoration and not as food ought to taxed as such.

Am I the only noticing that Halloween has gotten bit huge with the affluenza bug?
I mean, it's one thing to string up some fake cobweb, paper skeletons and hang a few ghostly bedsheets from the tree. They're now selling robotic zombies, inflatable pumpkins the size of a Goodyear blimp and full-on coffins for the front yard. If you want to go all out, there are ways to green up your Halloween.

You wanna hear something really scary? There's a recall for fake teeth.
Of course, they wait until Hallowe'en to put out the recall for these lead laced teeth that have been sold all year long. Three guesses where these fake Hallowe'en teeth were made.

You wanna see something cool and scary, check out the Meatrix.
It's an awesome bit of animation about corporate factory meat farms.

Happy Hallow's Eve Everyone.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Farmers Showcase a Success!

The Farmers Showcase last Saturday has officially been declared an all out, no holds barred success! I was there with my 100 Mile Diet song 'n dance and by the end I was close to voiceless and my feet were giddy with joy and elation!

Hello to everyone that I met and chatted with!

Not even the rain could keep the hoards away as you can tell from these photos. The pics are courtesy of Dirk from Compassion Farms, who also happens to be one of the co-ringleaders of this awesome event. I wasn't able to get away from my table until the last hour or so of the event to take photos.

The public was hungry for local food and information about local food sources. Unlike previous fall events where I would get people telling me that they "can't do a 100 mile diet during the fall and winter because there's nothing to eat here," which is so completely defeated and passive. Instead, folks were asking, 'So where can I get my produce this fall and winter to continue my 100 mile diet." A totally awesome active and constructive approach. Yippee!!

I ran out of information, local food maps and other literature within a few hours and believe me, I was stocked up to the eyeballs. I kept hearing people tell me that they were so happy to have a farmer's market and several asked if this event was going to happen again next week. Unfortunately, no but that just might change in the near future.
To give you an idea how successful it was, Arata, the rock star baker from Flour, Water & Salt sold all 150 loaves of bread in a little over 20 minutes! He wasn't the only one that sold out. Many vendors sold out and more products brought in, only to sell out again! A casual survey showed that most vendors did 3 to 10 times more business that day than at any other farmer's market. A huge sign that Nanaimo needs a REAL farmer's market for the locals.

There's a buzz that a regular weekly farmer's market will be happening next spring. Until then, check out the Nanaimo 100 Mile Diet Challenge website for where you can find locally grown produces and go support local agriculture!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Nanaimo Farmers Showcase

Just a reminder that Saturday is the 2007 Farmers Showcase in Nanaimo. It's being held at the Co-op parking lot at 2517 Bowen Road from 10am to 4pm. This is the mother of all farmer's markets. There will be over 40 local food vendors, music and face painting for the kids. Come meet the hardworking folks who grow your food.

As a prelude to tomorrow's event, Foodlink Nanaimo is hosting a 'Supporting Local Agriculture' Networking Forum for those concerned and interested in local food issues. It's at the Christ Community Church at 2221 Bowen Road. The event starts at 6:30pm. This is a free event.

I look forward to seeing you all at both events!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Vampire proof your garden

Elizabeth sent in this comment/question on my BBQ Green Tomato Chutney entry :
Hey, neighbor- Just found you looking for green tomato chutney (I can't face that old file folder of paper recipes!)- yours sounds great. I have a question, though- I have a mess (a gallon?) of small green tomatoes, from bigger-than-cherry-but-not-quite-plum-tomatoes. Can you give me an approximate weight/volume of tomatoes in the recipe? I'm not all about measurements but I'm having a hard time visualizing full-size tomatoes out of this pile I have. Thanks, from Seattle.
My recipe called for 3-4 medium sized tomatoes and that is about 1 1/2 lbs or 750grams. Chutney is one of those of things that are evolved as it's made. You toss the ingredients in and then take a little taste. Toss in a bit more of this, a touch more of that until it suits your palate. I do make big batches of chutney for canning but I often will make small batches for just one or two meals. It makes for a fresher and brighter tasting chutney.

If you still have green tomatoes leftover, you can ripen them indoors. I've just brought all of my tomato plants into my dining room to let them ripen. You can simply take vines/branches and hang them for vine ripened tomatoes . Or you can take the tomato off the vine and put them in a cardboard box in a single layer and cover them with some newspaper and let them ripen somewhere cool.

I hope that helps!

I hope everyone is enjoying a yummy 100 mile diet fall season. I've been delighting in this season's buffet. We've been swooning a sea of fall and winter delights!
For garlic lovers, it's garlic planting season again. I've planted garlic in a wide range of soil conditions and they don't seem to need much work after the initial planting making them a great garden item for beginner green thumbs. It will keep vampires out of your garden though it won't do anything to keep them from showing up at your front door and begging for junk food at the end of this month.
If some gaunt, serpent tongued Qing dynasty official comes hopping down them street, hold your breath, it's a Jiang Shi. Blame it on the monobrowed taoist priest and his bumbling assistants for this ghoulish happening. Fortunately, if you just block the threshold of your doorway, the undead qi sucking beggar can't get inside your house. This is why doorways in traditional chinese houses have ankle busting 6 inch high thresholds.

Anyways, here's a great tutorial for garlic planting from Boundary Garlic Farm.
I got my garlic from Ken at Gabriola Gourmet Garlic Farm at a local farmer's market. If you haven't had a chance to get your garlic yet or are looking for more locally grown goodies, you're in luck!
The 2007 Farmer's Showcase is this coming Saturday (Oct. 20) from 10am to 4pm at the Mid-Island Co-Op on Bowen Road. There will be a wide range of farm products and vendors. I'll also be manning a table and doing my 100 mile diet song n' dance. Foodlink Nanaimo is also hosting a networking forum “Supporting Local Agriculture” on Friday, October 19th at 6:30 pm at Christ Community Church. For those in the Mid-Island region interested in finding ways to support and sustain a viable local agriculture, this is the place to be!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Countdown to 100 Mile Thanksgiving

This week, BC Almanac on CBC radio is doing a series on the food we eat. If you've missed them, they're archived on the website.

It's the yummy light at the end of this soggy grey week: Thanksgiving!
For those are still looking for a locally raised turkey, Piper's Meats and the Shady Mile Farm Mart are still taking orders for island grown turkeys. If turkeys aren't your thing, Piper's also has local lamb, rabbit, chicken and beef, as well as turkey roasts.

For your veggies and side dishes, head down to the Nanaimo Farmer's Market on Friday. There'll be everything from fresh cranberries to local winter squash.

For more 100 Mile Thanksgiving idea, check out the 100 Mile Diet Nanaimo site and the 100 Mile Diet.

I'm going to be heading over to Gabriola Island with friends for the Thanksgiving Weekend Studio and Gallery tour.
I had a great time on it last year and it's delightful way to celebrate the creative bounty of our community.

It's been a busy week with Harvest Moon festival, Thanksgiving and other harvest events. Here's some highlights:
Last Friday I went to the Cowichan Valley Culinary and Wine festival on behalf of 100 Mile Diet. I set up my usual local produce laden table and information to share with folks.
Here's a photo of everyone setting up before the big night. I didn't have a chance to talk any more photos after this because once they opened up the doors to the public it was non-stop shmoozing for this puppy.
I talked to folks for 5 hours straight! In order to lure folks over, I handed out samples of organic baguette from Flour, Water & Salt smeared with fresh cheese from Hilary's Cheese and my own plum jalapeno jam made with Cherry Point Coastal White Wine.

I also handed our samples of currant tomatoes from my garden.
These were a huge hit! I had chefs and farmers interested in them and I managed to plant the seeds for a local currant tomato crop for next year.

The evening was fabulous and I got to meet many of the local chefs and producers. I am thrilled to report that several restaurants and inns in the region are now on making island grown foods priority on their shopping list. This establishments include Jasmine's, Quamichan Inn, Merridale Cidery, The Secret Garden B&B, Beaver House Fudge, and of course, my favorite, The Equinox Cafe & Cafe.
It was wonderful to meet with so many chefs and restauranteurs who were excited about local foods. Let's hope that enthusiasm finds it's way up the highway and inspires more of Nanaimo's chefs who are up to the challenge of celebrating local foods and reconnecting with their ingredients and the farmers that grow them. When I say 'local', I mean island grown, not mainland hothouse factory farmed grown.

Saturday I wandered down to the Community Garden's Harvest festival.

There they had apple tastings, freshly squeezed apple juice for sale and locally grown yummies for sale. At the tasting table, I found these luscious lovelies:

Aren't those gorgeous?

My weekend ended with lunch at 100 mile diet-friendly Mermaid's Mug with my lovely in-laws who were passing through town on their way to the west cost. No only get to enjoy a hot bowl of delicious, hearty 100 mile chili but Michelle, mistress of Mermaid's Mug, unleashed her inner torch singer and serenaded us. BTW, Mermaid's Mug has restarted their Sunday Night movies (7-9pm). Grab your honey for a secret movie date. The popcorn is free!


Thanks to Nanaimo New Bulletin for the front page story on the new meat rules. Though I wish more media attention was paid to it earlier, I'm glad at least the public is being made aware of the absurd and unnecessary meat regulation changes that came in place on Sept. 30. Sept.30 is also the last day of the 2 week Eat BC campaign. Though the Eat BC campaign is a great idea (though a bit short), I have some reservations about it especially after a look at their sponsors. Do you really think Sysco really wants to support local farmers???

Most meat farmers are struggling as it is and though the Liberal government has promised to help , no farmer I've heard from has received any financial support to help them deal with the required upgrades.

I must stress this, no meat or poultry raised on the island has been in question for health problems. No case of mad cow or avian flu has been found here. The size of the island farms do no make them vulnerable to these issues. It is the overcrowded corporate farms that have conditions that make them susceptible to these diseases.

Ironically this comes at the same time as another corporate farm meat recall in the US. This single recall has affected 21.7 million pounds of beef so far. 21.7 million freaking pounds of beef, which is second largest recall of beef. Wasn't Bush tooting his bull horn that his administration has eliminated E. coli O157:H7 from the meat industry? Our neighbouring consumers to the south have even a harder time figuring out if their corporate beef has gone bad because stores gas the beef with carbon monoxide to keep it from turning grey.

That said, I heard from a little birdie that the BC government is willing to give the farmers 6 months to bring their farms up to code. Maybe by then they'll come to their senses. A girl can dream can't she??

Happy Eating!