Tuesday 19 June 2007

And Then There Were None

o.k., so three posts in one day and then none - the blogging break has been filled with cleaning/rearranging the basement, lazy afternoons in the backyard, some craft, and some green hunting.

Green hunting? So, inspired by many (especially the 100-Mile-Diet and No Impact Man and also by the spirit of the Riot for Austerity), I've been re-examining where the food in our household comes from. There are many thoughts going on behind this process. To start with, I grew up on a farm (a conventional-"peanut-butter-is-more-toxic-than-pesticides"-one....tree fruit and grapes, by the way and no it's not, by the way) and so my memories are of the morning-to-midnight-peach-fuzz-itch-humid-need-to-shower farming but also of my parents fighting NAFTA and the politics of food, and also of the growing realisation as I got older that farming wasn't anything like what most people thought it was and it was more complicated than even that. Unfortunately, let's just say the farmers and the greens were not friends and there was a (not-so-much) healthy contempt for environmentalists (picture eye-rolling here) and also a blank-stare no comprehension from the other end that a farmer might actually want to make a living farming. The dialogue just wasn't there between the communities, and there sure weren't many people visibly living the great AND. The world-views were so entrenched. Fortunately, I think (and hope) that it's changing. Maybe. This article is a pretty good indicator of where we're at in Ontario, I think.

Anyhoo, back to our table and green hunting. We like organic. We like local. We love organic and local, which is very very hard to find. The events leading up to this process and quasi-experiment are as follows:

One: A couple of weeks ago a neighbour was grilling corn-on-the-cob on the BBQ and when I said how good it smelled, her comment was "Well, 'tis the season".....except it wasn't. Not in Ontario anyway. We won't get fresh corn-on-the-cob for a while around these parts.

Two: A delicious meal at Treadwell where my Mom and I were debating about what kind of dipping oil were we using for our bread? Was it walnut? No....more like hazelnut? Upon asking the server we were utterly astonished to discover that it was canola oil. Oh, so that's what it really tastes like!

Three: At the (local-and-organic-farmers-only-yay!) farmers' market when I commented at the nice quality of the sweet potatoes, especially since they were from storage, how excited the vendor was that someone knew about storing root crops, his comment being that most people think they just come like that in the spring and how hard it was to convince people that they were just as good......

Four: A trip to a local grain and bean provider/mill to pick up buckwheat hulls for beanbags (I am now the proud owner of a 45 Kg (99 lb) bag of buckwheat hulls - that's the smallest they had - ha! that's a lot of beanbags!) and a lengthy discussion with the people there about how nobody in Ontario grows organic dried beans (I still don't understand - I mean, we can grow beans here, what gives? This is very frustrating for a vegetarian! They were lovely and very encouraging people, by the way, they wanted to give me dried beans, they just had none to give.)

Five: The person at the other end of the phone line from The Big Carrot who said that they couldn't possibly go to the trouble of labelling their bulk goods (flour, nuts, dried beans, etc.) with country of origin (like they do for fresh produce) because they couldn't be expected to cater (cater!) to every small group of people with special requests. (I'm seriously thinking about writing to the papers about that one!)

Six: Thinking "what can I use that's locally grown on my skin? Beeswax - check. Essential oils and herbs - check. Olive oil? - no check." So, how about something else? Besides which, I don't bake with dairy, so finding a locally grown fat is kind of important! After a little reading, sunflower oil sounded good. We grow sunflowers, right? Sigh.....how can shelves full of stuff at the stores seem so bare? No Ontario-grown oil of any sort, anywhere.

I'm still trying, though :-)

Oh, and don't get me wrong. This is a process. I ate chocolate today :-) and take-out :-) (Locally grown and organic take-out? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!)

But, how ecstatic was I to find Merrylynd Organics? Organic local flour! (And Red Fife, too!)

Next up, nuts....not me, the ones on the trees!

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