You may have noticed the strange and crazy things happening in our world. More than ever, what we eat matters.
As we re-start and press play, it’s our chance to try and fix a broken food system. One small step may not seem like much, but multiplied by a lot of people it equals a big change – we’re in it together, right?
Here are some of my thoughts about why what you eat is important more than ever:
Reducing our carbon footprint
My pop up dinner series is called SOURCED for a reason – the short food chain goes from farm-to-market-to-table. You’re pretty much helping to save the world by lowering your carbon footprint. Not to mention eating fresher produce that, when organic, is better for you and the planet, which sounds like a good trade to me.
For me, a meal is a sum of its parts. When you break it down, ingredient-by-ingredient you get a tiny glimpse into the true ‘cost’ involved. For example, coconut milk may come from Thailand, avocadoes may be in season year-round in Mexico but they use a lot of water during the growing process and now there’s monocropping to keep up with the world demand (and not to mention the cartels), quinoa production puts a strain on farmers in Bolivia and Peru, a large portion of readily available soy is from the US and GMO (unless it’s organic), ginger from China, rice from India, it’s a pretty excessive list already, even if it’s a vegetarian or vegan meal. And then there’s importing of water hidden in imported foods. It’s quite an interesting way to look at sustainability, especially when that hidden water is being diverted away from water-stressed countries, that’s a huge ‘cost’ when looking at the bigger picture.
Having a real conversation
When you buy directly from a farmer, there’s a person behind the produce. There’s no standing in line for customer service to get back to you or being placed on hold as you’re passed from department to department, my farmers are happy to answer questions about the farm, their growing practices and everything in between. With the use of harmful sprays in conventional compared to organic farming, it’s important to ask questions and then do what you feel is right for you, your loved ones and your budget. Be curious because food isn’t just food anymore.
Keeping things natural
Whether you’re on agricultural land or a winery, farming is farming. In the last little bit, there’s been a surge back to regenerative farming. That’s pretty much where you farm naturally without polluting the land with harmful chemicals – from using cover crops to build organic matter in the soils, having pigs to till the soil, creating biodiversity with what you’re growing (so the opposite of monocropping), creating waterways, letting the dandelions grow without mowing to help the bees do their thing, and all of that helps to reverse (some) climate change.
Going back to the winery side of things, a vineyard is a fancy name for a farm – great wine starts in the vineyard, after all. Just like with our food system, RoundUp and other herbicides and pesticides are being used in the vineyards. We live in a highly processed and commercialized world, but together we get to shape our food culture, identity and leave a piece of us one beautifully imperfect plate or sip at a time. The first step is to ask questions and then ask ‘why’ before making a purchasing decision.
The Okanagan Valley is a place with four distinct seasons and even more interesting microclimates. Put simply, we have delicious things to look forward to every step of the way. If things were available all the time, we’d lose sight of how we value it. The sad thing is the fact that that’s already happened.
During the season, I preserve and freeze ingredients at the peak of their respective season for when I need a little Okanagan sunshine in my life, especially during the cold, grey winters. This way, I know who’s grown it and how it’s been grown; even when frozen, it tastes better than something out of season at a grocery store, so there are loopholes.
Supporting the local economy
I have a thing about family businesses. Supporting local is not what I do but who I am – your support means more than I can describe or do justice to with words.
Buying locally means your hard-earned dollars are directly going to people who are producing the goods, instead of a huge corporation. There are fewer hands involved and our supply chain gets shorter. We build a sense of community and keep those dollars in our little area, so that means we strengthen our local economy, which is super important when you think about what’s happening in the world today. In a world full of perfection, it’s the imperfections of our local artisans, farmers and suppliers who make us uniquely who we are as a place. It may sound cliche and cheesy, but the people make the place!
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘you are what you eat’. But, that’s also true for where you consciously shop and support all things made in the country you’re living in. Doing the right thing is often the hardest thing, but small family-run and independent businesses do it just because they want to look out for us and that’s special in itself.
Support local and stay safe.