- Food & Drink
FOLLOW ME FOODIE: What is the definition of 'local'?
Where is the bacon from? Gelderman Farms in Abbotsford. And the beef? AAA from Alberta. How about the cheese? Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde in Quebec. The lobster? Nova Scotia.
We are “farm to table”. We are “local”. We are Canadian… local. Huh?
Everyone is jumping on the “eat local” bandwagon, but at the same time many do not even know what it really is. “Local” is being tossed around and marketed to the point of losing authenticity. It is sad that the definition of “eat local” has been stripped away and it is often followed by “as local as possible” or “mostly local”. It gives us that bit of room to source East Coast oysters, French cheeses, use Asian ingredients, or serve Alberta beef without diners making a fuss.
There is nothing governing the marketing of a menu, but at last there is a formal definition of “local”.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is adopting an interim policy which defines “local” as:
• food produced in the province or territory in which it is sold, or
• food sold across provincial borders within 50 km of the originating province or territory
It is not the greatest definition, considering the various sizes of every province and territory, but it is a start.
On the other hand, do diners really care? Some do, for sure, but does it prevent them from eating it?
I am very proud of our local products and will promote our farmers and growers who do a good job, but will I eat maple syrup from Quebec? Or strawberries in the winter? Yes, I will.
I try to eat local and seasonal, but globalization isn’t going to stop and I don’t sneer at the fact that we have year-round raspberries or premium quality maple syrup from Quebec. Yes, we could lessen the carbon footprint by not buying them, but with every social change someone suffers.
For instance, BC Blueberries are the #1 most exported Canadian fruits. Without those other markets, our farmers would take a financial dive because BC alone could not support them all. We champion eating local, yet we want our economy to grow. Fruit for thought.
The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets says sales were up 147 per cent in 2012 compared to 2006, injecting about $170 million annually to the local economy. So while eating local is showing economical growth, I can’t help but to wonder if there is enough supply for demand.
It would be ideal if we could grow and cook everything using local ingredients, but BC just does not have the proper climate or resources to make everything. We can produce a lot, but not everything.
I am not dismissing the importance of the local food movement, but I also think using selective imported goods is not shameful. For example, that Rassembleu Blue Cheese from Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde in Quebec is amazing, as is BC wild sockeye salmon, and I want to celebrate it by sharing it.
We live in a multicultural city with global influences in our cuisine, which is something to be proud of. I value that as much as I do our spot prawns and I can appreciate the efforts of producers who excel at their craft — even when it is not close to home.
Find Mijune in Lummi Island for the 2nd Annual First Harvest Dinner at The Willows Inn on July 25 and at The EastSide Gay Pride Pop-Up Party at new restaurant Bambudda in Gastown on July 30. Find out more about Mijune at FollowMeFoodie.com or follow her on Twitter @followmefoodie.