The new best cafeteria!

Okay, so I am going to let you in on a little secret. I went to a high school, where we actually had a chef who tried to use the freshest and local ingredients. Our cafeteria actually won best cafeteria in the country one year way back when. Unfortunately, he retired. However, in my last year of high school, Chef Jess came along and really changed how our school saw food.

He started out with selling fair trade coffee. He then moved on to other, bigger and yummier things. He then opened up the Food School, right inside of the high school!

WOW!

His design is to use the local food in his school and his ingredients for the food that he and his student make.

Not only that, but Chef Jess is encouraging the students at the school to think actively about the food they eat. He offers a healthy alternative to the cafeteria.

“Starting with the purchase of local, bulk produce from farmers in the mainly rural area of the high school the students learned that food acquired at this time of year, when the bounty is high, is less expensive and, if preserved correctly, better tasting by far than anything bought in a grocery store,” he explains in a Canadian Press article.

This program, as well as the fully functional store (The Pantry) and the catering business (Cater Wellington) are not the only projects Chef Jess has in mind.

He is hoping to open a school-run sustainable farm. “It’s great to talk about and learn about real food, so we started this [project],” he said back in September at the Taste-Real Field Dinner.

He also told me that, it would include an auto class that will work on tractors and building hand tools that you would see in the garden, including alternative fuel systems. A landscaping class will look at horticulture and greenhouse management. A philosophy and English class will be geared toward sustainable agriculture. This idea will be wrapped up into a four-credit semester.

What a great way to teach the younger generations about being self-sustainable!

A round of applause to Chef Jess for this amazing idea. As an alumnus of the school, I cannot wait to see it in its operation!

You can check out the food school HERE

Comments about this story? Tweet me @OliviaRutt of leave one below!

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Out of the Garden

Wow, Okay, so I came upon this beaut of a recipe!

It is from: Fit from Conception

If you are not a big fan of breakfast food like me, this might do the trick.

Ingredients:
  • Cream cheese
  • Icing sugar
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Butter
  • Blueberries – which are so perfect in Ontario
  • Sandwich maker (I’m sure you could use a frying pan, but the sandwich maker sealed everything in which was perfection)

Directions:

  1. Mix cream cheese with icing sugar (to taste – I didn’t want it super sweet)
  2. Butter outside of bread
  3. Spread cream cheese mixture on the inside of one slice of bread
  4. Place butter side down on sandwich maker and top with blueberries
  5. Place second piece of bread butter side out on top
  6. Close lid
  7. Grill for about 1 minute

Can I just say this sound AMAZING! This is on my list of recipes to try!

View the original post HERE

What’s Canada’s part in the Local Food Movement?

You can’t deny how awesome Ontario corn or Ontario strawberries are! I live for them every spring and fall. Other than privately owned food markets, it is hard to see how Canada plays a role in the local food movement. Canadian Co-operative Association released an article that goes into detail about the different ways Canada is involved in Local Food.

Here are a few highlights:

This research shows that Canada is home to a vibrant local food movement, with initiatives in every province

It defines local food initiatives as “food organizations, activities, and businesses that support the creation of local food systems in which food is grown, processed and sold within the same geographical region.

Key Players in local food initiatives:

  • Restaurants and Chefs
  • Farmers’ Markets
  • Grocery Stores
  • Community Supported Agriculture
  • Foodbox Programs

With over 2,300 local food initiatives identified and more to be discovered, communities in Canada have begun to establish local food systems that are secure and environmentally sustainable. Every province in Canada has been touched by this movement and has proactive groups promoting the qualities of locally grown food.

I encourage you to read the report, HERE. This report is from the 2009 fall harvest, so I am sure that Canada has grown exponentially in local food initiatives, but it is interesting to see exactly how Canadian are reacting to the local food movement!

How are you reacting to the local food movement? Tweet me @OliviaRutt or leave a comment!

Some Benefits and Drawbacks of Local Food: A reaction Part I

So, I found this article that really laid out the good and bad of local food. This article was written in the UK for the University of Essex, although it makes mention to North America. For me, this article was written to urbanites, or rural people that don’t own enough land to farm.

It goes into detail about the options for localizing food and the relationship between farmers and consumers.

Of its nine choices for people to get local food, I realized there were those options in my area!

Community Supported Agriculture – consumers pay growers for a share of the total farm produce, and growers provide a weekly share of food of a guaranteed quality and quantity. The Ignatius Jesuit Centre is a community shared farm outside of Guelph, Ontario. One of its main ideas centres around a community farm and selling shares for its crop yield.

Box Schemes – emphasise that payment is not just for the food, but for support of the farm as a whole. They are able to give jobs to more people.

Farmer’s Groups – these farms are used in a way that everyone contributes their knowledge to one farm.

Consumer Groups and Cooperatives – consumer groups are an important way to get good food to urban groups with no direct access to farms and the countryside.

Farmer’s Markets – sell produce directly to a consumer; also include farm shops and pink-your-own enterprises. Brantford has a wonderful farmer’s market right in the heart of the city.

Community Gardens – home gardens and allotments have long been important for home food production. They provide food for poorer urban groups and other important products such as wood, flowers, and herb. Brantford also has a community garden, where you can buy plots to plant for harvest or plant flowers. They also have a shed where any leftover food goes, and you can purchase it.

Clear Labeling – this option is to answer the question: can the food on the shelves be trusted? With clear labeling, or local food can solve this.

Food Webs and Local Shops – where have all the mom and pop shops gone? When shops move out of towns and villages, something important is lost. Mom and pop shops had people more conscientious about what they were eating.

Slow Food system – is all about slowing down the pace in communities. It started in Italy over concerns about fast food. They seek to protect local production from being driven into extinction by global brands. To do this they increase pedestrian zones, reduce traffic, encourage restaurants to offer local products, directly support local farmers, increase green spaces in cities, and conserve local aesthetic traditions.

In Part II I discuss the problems that this article has come up with dealing with local food.

How have you used the local food systems in your area? Tweet me @OliviaRutt or leave a comment.

Infographic: Your own garden!

This was pretty amazing. If those of us that have the luxury of having an acre or so of land could build a decent hobby farm, we could really be self-sustainable.

However, this all depends on what your family likes to eat. Ours doesn’t eat a lot of wheat, so we would buy flour. My mom would be driven insane by chickens, but my dog would love them.

Our neighbours have a rather small garden that consists of cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and other yummy veggies. It is only about 4-6 square metres. Not big, but we get so much tomatoes and other goodies that we can them. That’s only us! They share with other neighbours too! So having your own is definitely doable!

We also have a herb garden that tastes so yummy in recipes!

For those who don’t have space, maybe a single tomato plant, and a small herb garden would work?

Here is the infographic, click it to see a bigger version.

If you have space what would you include in your garden? Tweet me @OliviaRutt

Is local food bad for the environment? A reaction to Maclean’s

This summer, two Canadian authors produced a book called The Locavore’s Dilemma. It asked some tough questions about why the local food trend is a problem and why it will ruin Canada.  Maclean’s goes into discussion about this book and its arguments.

I found that the arguments made are very extreme in a sense that it doesn’t understand where the local foodies are attempting to go with regard to local food.

For instance, Maclean’s describe The Locavore’s Dilemma as a book that argues “far from making our communities healthier and more sufficient, the local food movement will destroy our economies, ruin out environment and probably lead to more wars, famine and incidences of food poisoning.”

Extreme as that is, they also see that local food is a romantic idea of living off the land, that it would only produce a narrow scale of food, and that it will cost extreme amounts of money to stay local.

“Food activists would rather turn back the clock on those modern developments, close the doors to trade and return to a world where families toiled their land, pesticide and fertilizer-free, and then squeaked by on what they earn from selling their goods at the local famer’s market,” said Maclean’s.

This is impossible. Most people are concerned about where their food comes from for a couple of reasons: concerns with food additives for making safe travel, concerns with ethical food growth, and supporting the local economy.  They might even be concerned about the concept of food miles and how much it costs our environment to transport food. Unfortunately here in Canada, we don’t have the luxury of growing mangos, passionfruit, or bananas. Instead we buy them from the grocery store. But when our food is in season, such as strawberries or corn, you just can’t beat the succulence and flavour of locally grown items.

Even free-range meat puts our mind at ease about the consumption of meat.  Animals are raised and killed humanely, and that may be a reason for people to choose that route.

I think the average person is looking to balance their diet with local food as well as imported fair trade food, but as for the other things that are impossible to get that way, we just get it somewhere else. The idea of being mindful of what you are putting into your body is the most important aspect of the local food movement. Maclean’s ultimately agrees.

You Can check out the full article here: Is Local Food Bad for the Environment?

Does Local Food Taste Better?

I’m not going to lie, I’m not much of a cook. I know a few easy recipes  but in general it was my parents and grandmother that did the cooking. Our family loves to eat, so we experimented with different things.

Sometimes, when we are in a time pinch we would run to the grocery store, grab a a couple of steaks or burgers, and make a quick meal out of it.

One of the things I noticed is that the beef we got packaged from the grocery store just didn’t taste the same as the steak we got from the butcher.

On Thanksgiving, the store-bought turkey just didn’t taste as flavourful as the free-range turkey.

So why is local food so tasty?

Well, to start, the local vegetables and fruit we buy in-season is at its best when picked. It also has been recently harvested, which is a quicker way to our plate. It hasn’t been frozen or refrigerated in any truck.

With meat, free-range local meat are not pumped with steroids. And as for our well-being knowing, we know they have been ethically raised and killed.

In my opinion, local is better. I would rather buy local than organic I am supporting my local economy, which eating fresh, yummy food.

What do you think?

Does Local Taste Better?

Let me know @OliviaRutt

Taste Real Field Dinner

“Get ready to loosen your belts!” said Mark Kenny, toasting the two hundred guests attending Taste-Real event, in Puslinch, Ontario.

Taste-Real’s Field Dinner celebrates Guelph and Wellington’s fresh harvest. It is a fundraiser event for local food agencies, such as the Guelph Food Bank and the Garden Fresh Food Box Program.

The most important part of this whole event: the local food.

“Local Food means starting at your home, growing what you can, and going out from there” said Kate Vsetula, a volunteer coordinator at the event, “There’s nothing better than knowing where your food comes from, and supporting your local economy, and the health of your family.”

This year’s special guest included Chef Lynn Crawford from the Food Network, who could not stress the importance of local food. “Its all about the chefs, the farmers, the growers coming together to share a wonderful meal on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon.”

The local chefs were preparing roasted farm fresh chicken, while bakers prepared their local grain bread. Even the students of the local Food School were preparing a local peach dessert.

“If I can connect directly to the person who produced without the supply chain between us, I can have a better handle on community,” said baker, David MacRae, “the personal connection makes it taste better.”

The funds raised goes in part to the Guelph Food Bank, where food isn’t just non-perishable.

“Buy local and share local,” said Tracy Marchesich, from the Guelph food bank “A lot of people have the misconception that the food bank is only boxes and cans, but that’s not the case. We have the capacity for ten skids worth of product in our walk-in fridge, so we are trying to encourage the community to donate fresh as well.”

The people really enjoyed themselves, as everyone agreed: “Local just tastes better!”

Check out the photos from the event!