Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Winter Food Swap, Life Update/Rant

Isn't it pleasing when the word "rant" is in a blog post title? ;)

First, here's an EXCELLENT post on the Winter Food Swap this past weekend.  Valerie is a great writer and took some amazing photographs.
Show her some love and leave some comments :)

Life Update

These past couple months have been interesting. Between Zac in school, waiting for EI, him leaving his job (finally!) and hunting for a new one (much easier than it sounds, lots of places looking in his field of work!) and a general winter "blah"-ness, it's taken quite a toll on my normally even-kneel emotional state.

Thankfully I've had some great projects to keep me busy (while others are put on hold until resources free up - rootceller/curingroom being one).
I'm doing some volunteering with Slow Food Edmonton (which I am a card-carrying member of) for the National Conference and the fundraising gala: Roots, Shoots and Garden Boots. Get a hold of Valerie if you want to reserve a ticket for the gala. It's a local menu made by some of Edmonton's most talented chefs! It will be a great night out :)
Mira and I have also been doing a bi-monthly Supper Club (Vegan with some Gluten-Free is April's Theme) and, most recently, a seasonal Food Swap (next is "Spring" at the end of May).
Karen, of Random Acts of Sweetness, has invited Mira and I to do some baking to give out to volunteers at a local fundraiser this saturday.
So, lots of food-related stuff to keep me busy :)

Here's an article by Simple Bites on February Food Blahs
It does a great job of really addressing the importance of preserving tastes of Summer for when Winter seems to bear down, especially if you're trying to eat as local as possible.

And now for a bit of a rant... 

Local. Real. Honest. Natural. Organic. Free-Range. Sustainable. Green. Environmentally Friendly.

They're all just words.
Words that marketers are throwing around.

"Green-washing" is the latest thing that big/major corporations are doing to the public to try. They want a piece of the "back to real food" movement.  They use a lot of those words...

McDonalds just had a big campaign. As does Monstanto. And Chipotle (have you seen their Grammy Night Ad?) And Hellmans (here's Valerie's article on a Hellman's Real Food event). Plus, who can forget, Galen Weston's comment about how "farmer's markets are going to kill people one day".  Not really a campaign as much as him putting his foot in his mouth... I'm sure the PR people at Loblaws appreciated all the damage control they had to do...

Now, some are better than others. The Chipotle ad really makes you think and appeals to a wide range of consumers. Hellman's is also a really good campaign, but as Valerie points out, they still use GMO products (I refuse to call it food). Is that real food? Are GMO's sustainable? What does it mean to be sustainable?! Are they just trying to make money?

The short answer is, "Of course they are." They're all multi-million dollar businesses. They want people to think that they're the "Good Guys". They don't want you to change your shopping habits because that would mean that they would lose money.

*UPDATE* Here is Eating Rules "5 words Ruined By The Food Industry"

Now, I'm not perfect. My family isn't perfect. We're still not 100% local. We have our guilty pleasures and sometimes slip up.
Zac and I both grew up in the time of convenience. It's hard to change habits that have been developing your whole life.
However, we're both trying to do better. We want our children to grow up in the lifestyle that we're currently trying to create.
I read food research, sign petitions and send emails/letters to my government about my dislike of UNLABELLED GMO's. If GMO's are safe, then just label it and let the people decide with their $ what they think about them... I often get generic letters back from them saying, "We've decided that it's safe so quit bugging us"

Anyways, most of the time I think we're doing pretty good.  I have a good list of farmer's that I like to source products from.
I can/preserve local produce with my mom and sisters in the summer and fall. Mom's garden(s) have more square footage than the house, we always have lots of veggies :)
My oldest sister keeps egg and meat chickens (and new for this year, meat pigs!) at our Grandparents to butcher in the fall.
We still forage for mushrooms (I'm taking another ID course this June), high bush cranberries, wild blueberries and low bush cranberries, wild hazelnuts-when we can find them. My other sister just bought an acreage last year that's FULL of them!
Zac and I are both interested in starting hunting (my oldest sister has been doing it for years now) and while we don't get out very often, we still both like to fish.

This year I've been diligent about keeping a record of what we use the most, and what we need to plant/forage/hunt/source more of - preserve/can/freeze more of.
Spinach (freeze)
Zucchini (shredded+freeze)
Broad Beans (blanche+peel+freeze)
Shelling Beans (dry or pressure can)
Tomatoes (can, dry, freeze. Salsa, Marinara sauce, etc)
Herbs (dry, freeze. freeze pesto cubes)
Hot Chilies (dry, sauce+can)
Fruits (can, freeze)
Berries (can, freeze)
Mushrooms (forage then dry)
Wild Meat (particularly rabbit, waterfowl, grouse/pheasant, moose/deer/elk)
Fish (do more fishing, join a Salmon CSA)
Buy a whole lamb for the freezer. Looking for a 2yr old lamb instead of a Spring lamb.
Make more charcuterie and cheese (need to get my rooms finished first :( )
When butchering chickens this fall, instead of just freezing whole, cut up and do packages of breasts/thighs/legs/half chickens/whole/stockbones/etc to make meal planning easier.
Learn to pressure can (soups, beans, fish, meats, etc)

Ah yes, meal planning. I've tried it before... didn't get very far. However, now that our microwave is packed away, planning is essential to make sure all my freeze items are ready to go come dinner time.

I'll let you know how it goes.

In the mean time, here's what I've been working on (posts to come)
- Homemade Tofu (had a bag of organic dried soy beans in my cupboard)
- Homemade Toddler Cereal+Fruit Bars

Thanks for reading through to the end!  Have you started a list of food projects to do this year?
Do you need to can more tomatoes?? ;)


  1. I haven't had a microwave in a very long time, and I'm a big supporter of freezer cooking! Mind you, I only have my fridge-top freezer... but still! There isn't much that can't be frozen!

    I am still thinking of trying to grow something edible on my balcony. I have the opposite of a green thumb, so it will certainly be an endeavour. I've also been eyeing the big, light filled windows at work as potential food growing spots, so my brain is working on that one as well.

    Sadly, all the farmers markets I could feasibly get to are open during times I'm at work... but I'm working on that too! :D

    1. Yay! there's lots of markets in the city, hopefully you'll find one that works for you.
      Tomatoes are excellent balcony growers :) and potatoes too. lots of people use 5gallon buckets and it works great!