Around the world, the weather is normally the topic that unites people in conversation, but according to visitors to Vancouver Island, “all we ever talk about is food!” To me this is a good thing, because it shows that we are actively engaged in safeguarding our health at the same time as preparing for an uncertain future, as far as climate is concerned. It surprises me that not more people are questioning the impacts of weather havoc on global food supply and industrialized food production on climate change through fossil fuel-intensive methods of production and transportation.
Food cultures vary by country and region, and through them, celebrations are centred and local traditions are expressed, as you can experience by travelling the world. On Vancouver Island a resurgence of demand for farm fresh produce, pasture-raised livestock, wild harvested products, and artisan cheese shops and bakeries is stimulating a vibrant new food culture. We are being introduced to in-season, wild and healthy cuisine, featuring novel concepts, such as fruit infusions, artisan salts, herbal seasonings and fermented concoctions. Chefs are on the front line, introducing us to delicious ways of enjoying local ingredients, such as sumptuous spot prawns in season and creamy, warming sunchoke soup in late winter. When we support restaurants that serve seasonally appropriate food from farm to plate, we allow more people to succeed at farming, fishing and wild harvesting.
To me, it’s a relief that we talk about food so much, because this also means we are staying connected to the source of our wellbeing. There is nothing better for one’s health than nutrient-dense fresh fruits and vegetables, and wild harvested mushrooms and seafood. Of course, the best way to ensure that you have access to these is to grow as much food as you can in your own backyard and get to know a fisherman! The next best way is to attend your local farmers’ market on a regular basis or sign up for a weekly CSA (community supported agriculture) farm box program. Shop where you can find local farm produce and products, and don’t forget to stop at farm stands.
Investing in local agriculture also stimulates the local economy. We have a willing workforce of young farmers, and all we have to do is let them loose on some land and support them with the infrastructure for processing, marketing and distribution. Buying local spreads dollars throughout the community, providing worthwhile occupations for a new generation of workers. We need to support a culture in which there’s a good living to be made from feeding communities, replacing the current myth that farming is a waste of time if you want to get ahead.
So join the food revolution and lessen your carbon footprint by getting your hands in the earth to grow more food. It’s up to us to decide what the future brings, so I choose to revel in conversations about food, and celebrate seasonal abundance with luscious lettuces, fresh figs and gorgeous garlic! The Cedar Farmers’ Market starts up again on Mother’s Day, May 8 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), so perhaps I’ll see you at the IncrEdibles! tent?
Carolyn Herriot is author of “The Zero Mile Diet” and “The Zero Mile Diet Cookbook.” Available at your local bookstore. She grows IncrEdibles! in Yellow Point (www.incredibles.vision).