January is here and with it is a time for reflection and resolution. Last year I resolved to do a lot of budget-friendly yoga. This year I plan to focus on building my brain and making food choices that will not only feed my growing little family, but also tread lightly on the planet.
Vancouver is a locavore hotspot. Our city is the birthplace of the 100-mile diet phenomenon. Chefs from restaurants like Bishops, Forage, Raincity Grill and Campagnolo regularly change their menus to match the seasons and embrace vendors and suppliers who source local and organic food.
This year I looked for resolution inspiration from two local foodies who are passionate about ‘eating local and thinking global.’ Below you’ll find new year’s resolutions ideas from Lindsay Coulter, David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green, and Katharine Manson of the Chef’s Table Society and Hastings North Business Improvement Association. Their food and drink resolutions inspired me to share my own commitments to becoming a better locavore.
Katharine Manson recommends expanding your vegetable horizons.
According to Manson, adding more variety to one’s veggie drawer is key to enjoying B.C.’s food bounty. “I resolve to add more diversity to what I cook at home. I have a few go to meals that I seem to cycle through. I would like to expand my skill set in the kitchen and try my hand at cooking vegetables that I have never worked with but have enjoyed in restaurants.
I’ll often hit the farmers market and fall in love with the variety of produce but often just go home with the usual suspects like carrots, potatoes, radishes and tomatoes. I’d like to be a little more daring with my choices. Take Kohlrabi for instance. I have seen Robert Belcham work with it many times at Campagnolo but I have never purchased it myself.”
Follow Manson’s advice and grab a bag full of Kohlrabi or other in-season veggies at your local farmers’ market. In Vancouver, the Vancouver Farmers’ Market takes place at Nat Bailey Stadium every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. the weekly Winter Farmer’s Market at Nat Bailey Stadium.
Lindsay Coulter suggests choosing organic wine.
“Wineries that produce certified organic wine cannot use toxic pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers to grow grapes. Instead, they fertilize crops with compost, compost teas, green manure and cover crops. They also rely on mechanical weeding, mowing around the vines, mulching and companion planting. To avoid the use of insecticides to control cutworms, organic farmers let chickens graze under the vines or pick cutworms off the leaves one by one. Certified organic wine doesn’t use genetically modified organisms or GMOs and they don’t contain sulphites.”
Coulter also advises against eating red-listed species, please.
“Commit a few names of these red-listed species to memory. They’re the ones you want to avoid. Don’t consume Chilean seabass, swordfish, orange roughy, bluefin tuna, and tropical shrimp or prawns. Destructive longline fishing is pushing endangered sea turtle and shark populations to dangerously low levels. And bottom trawlers still plough our ocean floors, destroying fragile corals and sponges. Seachoice.org can help you shop smarter.”
Learn to cook, more
Did you know that 88 Fraser Valley family farms supply Ocean Spray with cranberries and that BC produces 84 million pounds of cranberries a year? Neither did I, until I took a cooking class in Langley.
This year I resolve to learn more about our local foods and and how to cook them. Like Manson, I want to break out of my culinary rut. I took a cooking class at Well Seasoned back in December to kick start my 2014 ‘learn to cook more than the standard 10 dishes scheme.”
Well Seasoned owner Angie Quaale walked us through a three course meal that was simple, fast and local. Our arugula salad topped with local hazelnuts, spicy tex-mex turkey soup and cranberry mousse with chocolate ganache all included main ingredients from Lower Mainland farms. Well Seasoned’s classes average two and a half hours and cost between $60-70.
Looking for Vancouver-based cooking classes? Try the Dirty Apron Cooking School.
Buck the Food Inc model
Who knew a documentary could have such an impact on my eating habits? Last year I watched Food Inc. had a hard think about about the meat I buy: namely the environmental, health and labour footprint. After watching the documentary, I vowed to look for B.C.-based meat and seafood as much as possible.
This year I resolve to buy directly from the rancher, farmer and fisherman as much as possible. I will inquire at restaurants where they get their meat and shop at locally stocked butchers and farmers markets more. No, I’m not going to create a Portlandia chicken scene, but I will be an curious customer.
This should be an an easy resolution to stick to. Vancouver has a year-round farmer’s market that features friendly vendors like Empire Valley Ranch from near Williams Lake, Gelderman Farms in Abbotsford and Blue Comet Seafood from Steveston who will proudly explain their business practices. In general, many restauranteurs in Vancouver will proudly share their vendors’ lists, so you can confirm where your protein comes from.
What are your food-focused resolutions for 2014? Feel free to share in the comments section below.