Becoming a 'Locavore'
Do you really know where your next meal is coming from? One study states that the average North American meal has traveled about 2,400 kilometres. That’s the distance from Regina to Toronto! Why does it have to come from so far away when your local farmer grows and raises a wonderful variety of food? Granted, much of the year we can’t grow most vegetables and fruit, but there is still so much we can buy from locally and we are about to move in to a few glorious months of abundance on the local produce scene.
Buying local is so important for many reasons. Transportation increases greenhouse emissions and air pollution. Food that has to travel long distances is usually picked unripe and then is sprayed with fungicides, sprout inhibitors and other preservatives to prevent it from rotting on the long journey. Local food is fresher, more flavourful and retains more vitamins. Buying local ensures the survival of small producers and encourages the preservation of agricultural land around our cities, which in turn preserves wildlife habitats and keeps our environment healthy.
What about organic? You may think you’re helping the environment and your health by buying the now widely available variety of organic foods. But how far has some of that travelled? Many of the large-scale organic farms in California, while not using pesticides, use huge amounts of electricity and water in their production and packaging. Just take a look at the large plastic bins of organic salad mix and think about how much energy was used to make them. Another big beef of mine is overpackaging. My local supermarket, Garden Basket, sells organic broccoli wrapped in plastic on a styrofoam tray and the bananas are in a plastic bag. You’re better off buying the your produce that hasn’t been on a truck for days and is naked except for an elastic band. I’ve registered my complaint with the produce manager at Garden Basket but I’ve seen no change.
Local strawberry season will start in a couple of weeks and with it the re-opening of the farmer's markets. All summer long you can be guaranteed of yummy local produce and great baked treats too!
When buying meat, local is definitely better. Take a look at www.themeatrix.com and you’ll see why you should know where your meat is raised and how.
For an extreme but really interesting take on eating local, have a look at 100 Mile Diet. Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon spent a year eating only what was grown within 100 miles of their home. They’ve written a book about the experience and with great information about being a “locavore.”
After you return home from your local farm loaded up with strawberries, make this simple recipe. There’s one loaf to enjoy right away with a cup of tea and another for the freezer!
STRAWBERRY TEA BREAD
- 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 cup wheat bran
- 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 cups strawberries, fresh or frozen and thawed, mashed
In large bowl, stir together flour, wheat bran, oats, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder; set aside.
In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, oil and buttermilk. Pour over dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Stir in strawberries.
Divide mixture evenly between two greased 9" x 5" loaf pans.
Bake in centre of 375ºF oven for 45–50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.
Makes 2 loaves. Wrap in plastic wrap or foil and store at room temperature for up to 3 days or wrap in plastic wrap and heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 1 month.
©2007 SayItCornell.com / SayItCanada.ca. All rights reserved.
Laura Buckley is a chef and recipe consultant. She trained at the Stratford Chefs School and has worked in the kitchens of some of the top restaurants in Toronto. She also ran a catering company, called Eats of Eden, cooking for rock stars to royalty. She develops and tests recipes for cookbooks and magazines, teaches cooking classes, and is co-editor of All Stirred Up (Random House, 2003) and recipe developer for The G.I. Diet Cookbook (Random House, 2006). Laura is on the board of directors of the Women’s Culinary Network and a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and Slow Food. She lives in Markham, Ontario with her husband and adolescent twins.