YYC Growers – photo – Karen Anderson
Urban farming has become topical.
Here’s a video by Alberta PrimeTime discussing why. The video features Rod Olson of Leaf and Lyre SPIN farm here in Calgary and Professor Debra Davidson of the University of Alberta and they do a great job of explaining why people are becoming more interested in growing food within city limits and addressing naysayers who believe agriculture is only for rural areas.
There is an idea I’ve heard of late that people who grow food for a living inside a city’s limits are not “real farmers”. There’s a bit of an old boy’s club mentality that you must have grown up on a farm, live on a rural farm, and have the stress of bank loans to be a farmer.
I think we have to get past this way of thinking. It’s not going to serve us as we prepare to feed 9 billion people on our planet by 2050.
I think that we need to appreciate ALL people who grow food for us and that’s what I’ll discuss here.
Me and one of my closest farming friends – Penny Marshal of Highwood Crossing Farms presenting at The Calgary Stampede Calgary Coop Showcase Kitchen in 2011 – I’ve learned so much about farming and cooking from Penny!
photo credit – Adam Chiasson
Visiting Alberta’s farms and farmers – whether urban or rural – has always been a big part of my life in Alberta and summer is the prime time to make a visit. If you’d like to meet some farmers here’s some ideas I’ve collected to help you be “Outstanding in a field” this summer.
I was born to grocery shop
Some people are born to shop but I was born to grocery shop. I love it.
I am delighted that I get to write about the great ingredients and cool things I find in local grocery stores, markets and kitchen shops. I do this for my Get This (must have kitchen stuff) column in Calgary’s City Palate magazine.
I’ve been writing Get This since the fall of 2010 and I am inspired by the fun things I find for each and every issue. I respect that my publisher and editor never tell me what to write about. They trust that I will write about things City Palate readers will be interested in. That is what City Palate is about first, last and always…for over 20 years…what readers will find interesting.
Thinking about our readers motivates me every time. Along with the products I love to squeeze in a few recipes and news about local farms and businesses, and great chefs and designers.
In this issue I wrote about the following products which will qualify for this blog’s cool things category:
Cool thing #17 – Ruckles – groovy goat cheese from Salt Spring Island
Cool thing #18 – Spiegelau’s balloon decanter and tumbler set – a darling with great hand feel
Cool thing #19 – Tartufo nero – black truffle oil that I think is asparagus’s taste soul mate
Cool thing #20 – DaVinci orange syrup – agent orange as an asset
Cool thing #21 – Lemonaise – lemon lending flavour potential
Cool thing #22 – Village Brewery Growlers – the most chillin’ beer for summer.
You’ll find the full story in this May/June issue.
I have a fridge, freezer and pantry stuffed to the gills with great ingredients and cool things. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s truly a part of what helps me savour it all.
My April column for CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon was all about a new website called Soil Mate.
The Soil Mate website acts like a match making service between consumers and farmers. Just as internet matchmaking services helps people find their soul mate, this site will help you find your “soil mate”. But, it’s all brand new and Soil Mate needs help building a directory of farmers, farmer’s markets and wineries that will span North America. We can all help. Here’s a bit more information and my podcast.
Voila – Chutney Stuffed Alberta Lamb for Easter
photo – Karen Anderson
Half the lamb we eat in Alberta is imported but, the superior taste of our local product means demand for it is on the rise. Lamb producers in the province are responding with a strategy to increase yields by 40% over the next 6 years. A recent Edmonton Journal article chronicled what life on Tangled Ridge lamb farm is like this time of year.
Taste Alberta: Local food movement fuels growing support for Tangle Ridge Ranch (with recipes and video).
Here’s a link to my visit to Ewe-nique lamb farm and a whole menu of delicious things to make for Easter, spring and beyond.
These are just two farms out of hundreds that need our support if we are to have a strong and secure local system filled with our dream farms. Supporting and finding the farms of our dreams and cravings – our Soil Mates – was the main focus of my Alberta at Noon column today. I hope you’ll help build this potential treasure trove of “local” by asking your favourite farms, farmer’s markets and wineries to register.
Spread the word, like you’d spread manure and we’ll all watch Soilmate dot com grow into a fabulous and powerful consumer and farmer resource. That will truly be something to help us savour it all.
Read on for the recipe for the delicious lamb roast pictured above.
Watch the video above to learn about this new agri-enterprise that has the potential to change the way we source our food.
Recommend your favourite farms, farmer’s markets and wineries/meaderies. Spread the word, like farmer’s spread manure.
Let’s see all our soil mates get listed and help get this great seed of an idea growing at the same time.
Local food, farms and farmer’s markets help us savour it all.
Chef Duncan Ly’s Vietnamese Pork Salad Rolls made with Spragg’s pork
photo – Karen Anderson
Humanely raised pork is a great ingredient. Yesterday, I wrote about a few Alberta Pork Producers that are raising their animals humanely. Today, I’d like to share the recipe for the beautiful pork salad rolls pictured above. Consider them an added incentive to go out and find some of these products. You can nourish a new direction for the pork industry as you nourish yourself.
This recipe was created by a wonderful cook that I know; chef Duncan Ly of the Hotel Arts in Calgary. Ly shared this recipe for a PBS television show called Off the Beaten Palate. I was the production assistant for that show when they visited Alberta and one of my jobs was to line up chefs and farms to highlight Alberta’s culture and cuisine. Ly’s food is so beautiful in both taste and style that I was thrilled when he agreed to participate. I had previously guided chef Ly on a visit to Spragg’s Meats pork farm and I knew he loved the taste of their product. We were all thrilled with the beauty of the dish he presented.
This post will share chef Ly’s recipe in both a written and video format.
My friend Greg Spragg of Spragg’s Meats – I call him the Pig Whisperer – he is kind & will only raise pastured, hormone and antibiotic free pigs
Deadly pig virus spurs Alberta Pork to organize farmer meetings.
The United States has an epidemic of porcine diarrhea that has killed approximately three million piglets and cost that country $240 million dollars. I just finished reading this news in the article above by Amanda Stephenson. Stephenson’s piece also reports that Ontario has just seen its first outbreak of the virus and a spokesperson for Alberta Pork says that “the real question is, can we keep it out of the Prairies?”.
I think that question misses the point. I think the real question is not “can we keep it out of the Prairies?”; I think the real question is why did these animals get so devastatingly ill in the first place?
I suspect it has something to do with the industrialization of the hog industry but I’m not a farmer or a veterinarian. This crisis is just one more factor that has me and many consumers asking questions and wishing for greater transparency in our food systems. This post describes what I know about the current systems of how pork is raised and goes on to look at some small trends and ideas that might lead the way back to a healthier pork industry with hopefully healthier animals within that industry.
Corrine Dahm and Darrel Winter
photo – Karen Anderson
I’ve known Darrel Winter and his wife Corrine Dahm since about 2005 when I started doing volunteer work for Slow Food Calgary. I met a lot of Alberta farmers in the six years I worked actively on the board of that organization. Winter and Dahm stood out. Anyone who meets them appreciates the honest and earnest way they conduct themselves and how that translates to the animal husbandry practices of their turkey farm.
In 2007 I first visited their farm and started calling it “the turkey spa”. Beyond a wholesome farm smell, the air is crisp and clean. There is fresh straw bedding laid daily for the turkeys. They have access to the great outdoors, food and water at all times. They are calm. Their life is calm. The only thing missing is a bit of Bach playing softly in the background.
Winter’s father converted the farm from chickens to turkeys in 1958 and Winter still feeds the turkeys the same program his father devised. We’ll talk a bit about that here, share some photos and I’ll share my favourite way to cook a turkey.
Freshly harvested organic barley field at Highwood Crossing Farm
photo – Karen Anderson
Highwood Crossing Farm has been in Tony Marshall’s family for almost 120 years now. The farm is in Aldersyde, Alberta and hugs a curve in the Highwood River. It’s as though the land of the farm and the flow of the river are two lovers spooning. Most of the time, life is that peaceful and serene there.
In June of this year that was definitely not the case. That’s when we Albertans dealt with The Great Alberta Flood of 2013 and Tony and Penny Marshall of Highwood Crossing saw their Highwood Crossing Foods Ltd. processing plant in High River swallowed up by the river. To add insult to injury the basement of their beloved and beautiful home on the family homestead was also devastated. As always, they looked around and thought – things could be worse. They regrouped and are slowly rebuilding as they can. Before long Tony was making a joke that with all that flour and water in High River it was a good thing they did not also make yeast. High River would have had another mess on their hands the likes of a Ghostbusters movie.
This blog will talk about the Highwood Crossing organic grain farm, the products they produce and what’s involved in that process and then finish with a few of Penny Marshall’s delectable recipes. I’ve had the delight of trying these good things and enjoyed them so much I’m confident you will too.