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!

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