How do you eat local?
Think on that for a second, what does local mean to you?
I was recently wandering the supermarket anticipating one of our best yearly harvests — cherry season. As I wandered over to this eye-popping dark red display to pick up a bag of summer’s finest tree fruit I noticed that it said ‘Product of California’ and I couldn’t bring myself to take them home, it just didn’t feel right. Have you ever eaten a better cherry than one that’s ‘Okanagan grown’? Didn’t think so.
As I continued my shopping and pondered where I could find a cherry that was picked a little closer to home. I found myself a little pissed that those were front and centre, it was reminded me of that old story about American backpackers wearing Canadian flags stitched to their bags while travelling abroad so that people might be a little nicer to them. Because to an untrained eye, someone would think that cherry came from, well, here. I felt good not buying those cherries despite greatly anticipating them but I started to wonder how I stacked up when it came to eating locally?
I’ve always been cognizant of the impact my food has on the earth and I try to choose what I buy based on where something comes from when shopping at my local grocery store. Then I realized that really wasn’t good enough, my local grocery store baited me, they knew I wanted a nice ripe cherry as the season approached, it was written all over my chubby cherry loving face. Like a mouse to the cheese I dashed for the bait until I noticed the trap right inside the doors of my local chain grocer, I pulled up just in time. I saw their marketing ploy before the bar came down and ended me with that patient snap. Needless to say, I checked out with a much emptier cart that I anticipated and I headed to the market near my house to finish stocking up.
Don’t get we wrong here, I’m not trying to preach from a high and mighty throne stating how much of a hero I am for not buying Yankee cherries, what I’m trying to say is, we’re lucky!
We’re lucky where we live and more lucky how many beautiful things grow here, literally any time of the year if you look hard enough you can find something that was grown right in your own backyard, maybe you even grew it…. wait for it…. right in your own backyard! Those roadside barns/shack/stands/carts/mongers we drive by almost daily aren’t just a cute little tourist attraction they are the ultimate way to eat local. Then my friends come the most important part, you cook it in your own kitchen, with your own two hands and tell me, dear readers, does that dish not only tasted a little better, a little fresher, a little cleaner and certainly far more LOCAL!
Remember to water those backyard plants, get up early and visit a farmers market, stop when you see a sign that says ‘fresh eggs’, make friends with the owner of your neighbourhood produce markets. I bet if you ask nicely they’ll tell you what’s coming off the next truck and you can plan a meal, invite a few friends over for dinner and brag that you know where your Swiss chard came from (Ok, maybe don’t do that but you get the idea) because you are a home cook DAMMIT! And you are proud of eating farm to table!
So if you’re a little bit like me and you’re more than curious where your ingredients come from, don’t be afraid to ask and if that keenly marketed fruit display catches your eye dear reader, look a little closer and make sure you don’t fall for the cheese.
Andrew Levangie is born a bread in Nova Scotia among the lobster and salt air but has called the mountains and the lakes of the Okanagan home for nine years. He is passionate about local food, growing what you eat, exploring new flavours and learning about how food evolves. In his travels he has worked almost every job imaginable in the restaurant industry, spanning over the last 20 years, but he is most excited when he cooks, eats and shares new flavours. He is an ever evolving home cook (and you can be too) a fierce defender of the local restaurants and believes sharing a meal is greatest way to unite people. But he certainly is #NotAChef.
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