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GoodFoodRevBlog

GoodFoodRevBlog

November 27, 2009

GFR Gourmet Media

Filed under: gourmet media — malcolmjolley @ 4:48 pm

Please note, this is the last GFR Gourmet Media at this address. We’re migrating all of our blog content and more to another WordPress platform at http://goodfoodrevolution.wordpress.com. We’ll link to the new blog site from www.goodfoodrev.com too.

Andy Warhol soup cans
http://artnews.com/issues/article.asp?art_id=2784

Asian chefs curtailed at APEC summit
http://in.reuters.com/article/entertainmentNews/idINIndia-43851820091111

AA Gill on kitchen germs
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/eating_out/a_a_gill/article6910840.ece?token=null&offset=12&page=2

100km Food’s fiesty foragers
http://www.thestar.com/living/food/article/730304–foraging-for-foodies

Smuggled fish sauce
http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2009/11/gift-from-bobby-chinn-phu-quoc-fish-sauce.html

American street food guide
http://www.gourmet.com/food/street-food-guide

Another Amazon fruit craze?
http://www.foodpolitics.com/2009/11/you-heard-it-here-the-hot-trend-is-cupuacu/

Can you fail lunch? Si, in Italy.
http://food.theatlantic.com/abroad/in-italy-eating-gets-graded.php

10 best NYC meals for under $6
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkintheroad/archives/2009/11/our_10_best_mea.php

Kermit Lynch Beaujolais Nouveau slideshow
http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=181512410884&id=75326593263

November 20, 2009

Gourmet Media

Filed under: gourmet media — malcolmjolley @ 8:10 pm

Apologies for the late post this week. Much, much going on. This will likely be the last post at this address. Gourmet Media, for now, will switch over to our proper blog at http://goodfoodrevolution.wordpress.com until everything comes together properly at Good Food Revolution’s new website (currently under furious development) in 2010. Please bare with us. We will deliver the news of the good food movement one way or another in any event. - Malcolm Jolley, Editor

PS. If you have 20 minutes, Dan Barber’s story below is both highly amusing and relevatory…

 Media will change wine
http://catavino.net/event/ryans-speech-at-winefuture-conference-in-logrono-spain/

What makes a good bartender?
http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2009/11/15/some_liquid_assets_do_well_in_downturns/

Jamie Oliver Sommelier in trouble
http://www.decanter.com/news/news.php?id=291766

Life of a Michelin inspector
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/11/23/091123fa_fact_colapinto

House laws concerning food and drink
http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/97feb/frazier/frazier.htm

101 Bittman bites
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/dining/18mini.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1&ref=dining

More mad scientist cooking
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/17/science/17prof.html?_r=1&ref=dining

The Cereal Project
http://www.mrbreakfast.com/cereal_home.asp

40 American farm-to-fork chefs under 40
http://www.mnn.com/food/cooking-recipes/stories/40-chefs-under-40

What’s in a CSA box in Paris?
http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2009/11/community_supported_agriculture.html

Naomi Duguid returns to Thailand
http://naomiduguid.blogspot.com/2009/11/welcome-of-soft-air-and-new-horizons.html

Brixton Market
http://poetryoffood.com/stories/simply-saucy/andrea-stewart/brixton-beckons-with-it-own-markets

Thomas Keller’s Ad hoc
http://www.insidetoronto.com/opinion/columns/article/216752–menumental-thomas-keller-coming-to-toronto-to-hawk-ad-hoc-cookbook

November 12, 2009

GFR Gourmet Media

Filed under: gourmet media — Tags: , — malcolmjolley @ 12:49 pm

100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (Part 1)
http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/one-hundred-things-restaurant-staffers-should-never-do-part-one/?scp=3&sq=Restaurant%20Staffers&st=cse

100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (Part 2)
http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/05/one-hundred-things-restaurant-staffers-should-never-do-part-2/?scp=1&sq=Restaurant%20Staffers&st=cse

Ruth Reichl’s desert island nightmare
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/gourmets-down-but-ruth-reichls-not-out/article1358371/

Guy Fieri on his haters
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-11-10/the-glenn-beck-of-food/?cid=topic:mainpromo1

Cucina povera endures
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2009/11/11/creative_delicious_healthy_meals_preserved_from_italys_era_of_necessity/

Niman’s guide to avoiding factory farm foods
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nicolette-hahn-niman/avoiding-factory-farm-foo_b_353525.html

Last meal menus
http://www.slate.com/id/2235155/

Fergus Henderson interview
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/real_food/article6902615.ece

What to do with kitchen scissors
http://www.thestar.com/living/article/720690–28-uses-for-kitchen-scissors

English wine
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/drinks/article6912542.ece

The Burger Beast
http://www.miamiherald.com/living/food/top-story/story/1326907.html

Eating alone
http://www.foodieandtheeveryman.com/?p=4477#more-4477

November 5, 2009

GFR Gourmet Media

Filed under: gourmet media — malcolmjolley @ 11:20 am

Why red really doesn’t go with fish
http://www.economist.com/sciencetechnology/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14743767

Depression linked to processed foods
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8334353.stm?ls

BPA found in wide range of canned foods
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naomi-starkman/tests-find-wide-range-of_b_342967.html

Michael Moore of the wine world?
http://www.slate.com/id/2234013/

2009 World Chocolate Masters
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/6494374/2009-World-Chocolate-Masters-melting-moments-in-Paris.html

Weighing the meat arguments
http://www.foodpolitics.com/2009/11/meat-arguments-health-climate-taxes/

Ivy Knight might like Michael Smith
http://www.ivyknight.com/i-hate-the-word-blog.html

Wine corrodes teeth
http://www.thestar.com/living/food/article/713625–white-wine-worse-for-teeth-than-red-study-suggests

White House chef is a food fighter
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/dining/04kass.html

Thomas Keller’s comfort food
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/10/30/FDGK19KQIK.DTL

US Food mags after Gourmet
http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-mag4-2009nov04,0,4189634.story

Worcestershire sause secrets
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2009/nov/03/lea-perrins-worcestershire-sauce-recipe

Baum & Whiteman’s 2010 Restaurant Trends List
http://www.baumwhiteman.com/trends.html

Old Pickle District
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113763154

Eating Animals: should you eat meat?
http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2009/11/09/091109crbo_books_kolbert

Parisian chefs cook in the metro
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/top-chefs-cook-up-a-treat-in-paris-subway/story-fn3dxix6-1225794115678

Whey Butter
http://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=2166197

October 30, 2009

Vandana Shiva’s Message on Organics

Filed under: good food — Tags: , , , , — malcolmjolley @ 9:09 am

Vandava Shiva fights for the small farmers of India

Vandava Shiva fights for the small farmers of India

Hart House*, the lovely old Gothic student centre at the Univervisty of Toronto, has become a hotbed of culinary activity. Last week it hosted a ‘World Food Week’ conference, which brought together good food activists from far and wide including Vandava Shiva. Shiva is a physicist turned food fighter who has been outspoken in her criticism of the so-called “green revolution” and proponent, largerly through Navdanya, a NGO she helped found, of organic farming. I had a chance to talk to her very briefly about her work and message.

The Green Revolution, by most accounts, was a great success. India, in particular is considered to have benefitted from the new variety of hybrid wheats and grains planted in the 60s and 70s. Or so most in the West have been led to believe. But Shiva is insistent that the revolution did more harm than good because it replaced sustainable, local varieties with engineered (and now genetically modified) plants bred to be pumped full of fertilizers and pesticides. Farmers quickly became dependent on companies like Monsanto from whom they would not only have to buy fertilizer and pesticides but also new seeds every year, since the patented ones wouldn’t naturally replicate. Much of Navdanya’s work is collecting and distributing heritage seeds that do replicate and encouraging small farmers to grow food organically in a sustainable way that doesn’t require costly inputs.

In the West, what debate there is about organics centres mostly on consumer choice. Which is better for me and my family: organic or local? Which has a bigger carbon footprint? That sort of thing. Even discussions about GM foods tend to be about consumer awareness and health concerns. In this context it’s fashionable to dismiss “big organic” (which often allows inputs one wouldn’t necessarily associate with organic farming), particularly in favour of local or “sustainable” production. All well and good, but Shiva reminds us that there’s more at stake than a simple supermarket discussion. Maybe it’s time to expand our understanding of organic food to include food that helps the small farmers of the world.

Learn more about Navdanya and Vandana Shiva at http://www.navdanya.org/

*Full disclosure: Good Food Revelation is currently advertising Hart House’s Tasting Series. Actually, we’re quite proud to, it’s a really cool series of intimate tastings with experts. Next week: Pinot Camp with Prince Edward County winemaker Norman Hardie. See the full schedule here.

October 29, 2009

GFR Gourmet Media

Filed under: gourmet media — Tags: — malcolmjolley @ 3:17 pm

 
Michael Pollan’s oil burger
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/10/bioneers-2009-michael-pollan-drinks-oil.php?dcitc=weekly_nl

Stop grabbing your food
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2009/oct/23/grab-bite-snack-coffee

How to cook mushrooms
http://blog.ruhlman.com/ruhlmancom/2009/10/how-to-cook-mushrooms.html

Give cauliflower another chance
http://www.food52.com/recipes/816_give_cauliflower_another_chance

Biodynamics defined
http://danamccauley.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/topline-trends-tuesday-crystals-cow-horns-and-moon-beams-biodynamics-defined/

Saucisse or saucisson?
http://jennifermclagan.blogspot.com/2009/10/saucisse-or-saucisson-it-is-still.html

Great sandwich theory
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/10/25/FDQ51A8BRI.DTL

Natalie Portman’s vegan conversion
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/natalie-portman/jonathan-safran-foers-iea_b_334407.html

Ruth Reichl on what killed Gourmet
http://www.observer.com/2009/media/ruthie-wonderland-ruth-reichl-reflects-conde-nast

Rachael Ray wirtes recipes for NY public schools
http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/26/in-public-schools-a-new-menu-from-rachael-ray/

Humane veal
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2009/10/27/ST2009102702916.html

Sally clarke only cooks what she likes
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/6446051/Sally-Clarke-recipes-leader-of-the-pack.html

Mafia-free food
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/italy/091027/libera-terra-food

Should we eat (more) bugs?
http://www.moreintelligentlife.com/content/salma-abdelnour/should-we-be-eating-more-bugs

Friendly Parisian restaurants
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=114250336

October 23, 2009

Ghoulish Goodies

Filed under: Uncategorized — ivyknight @ 11:26 am

Ghoulish Goodies is actually pretty cool

Ghoulish Goodies is actually pretty cool

Ghoulish Goodies by Sharon Parrish Bowers is perfect for teaching your kids how to bake and create in the kitchen. The best thing about it is that it teaches kids that there is more to Halloween treats than bags of chips and chocolate bars. Making these silly recipes and tasting them will convince anyone that a treat tastes so much better with flour on your nose.

Rather than bore you with my tired old take on these fun recipes I handed my copy of the book over to some friends, Barry and Jodi who went straight to the kitchen with daughters Jane and Pippa and got to work on some spider cookies.

You can check out the results on the Fiesta Farms youtube page by clicking here. On behalf of Fiesta Farms I would like to challenge everyone out there to upload more videos of kids in the kitchen making wacky Halloween treats. Grabbing a copy of the Ghoulish Goodies cookbook is a great way to start.

Cheers,

Ivy

Zoltan’s Notes

Filed under: good wine, zoltan's notes — Tags: — malcolmjolley @ 11:03 am

Somelier Zoltan Szabo

Somelier Zoltan Szabo

No one writes a wine note quite like Zoltan Szabo who, after a year managing an Italo-Canadian high-roller restaurant in Shanghai, has returned to his adopted city of Toronto and put his nose deep into the glass again. Maybe it’s his insistence on matching wines with a specifically suggested (and often quite quirky) dish, but I’m so pleased to post his oenophillic musings!

As a rule Good Food Revelation won’t attach a numerical rating to a wine review - just doesn’t make sense to us. But if you would like Zoltan’s five star rating of the wines below, you can contact the man directly through his website www.zoltanszabo.org .

- Malcolm

2008 Old Vines Foch, Albert’s Honour, Malivoire, Ontario
Made from 100% Marechal Foch. Albert, the uncle of Martin Malivoire, is a war hero, so that’s what the proprietary name is referring to. This is a serious, single vineyard Foch, the grapes are sourced from Epp Vineyard, located in the Twenty Mile Bench sub-appellation of the Niagara Peninsula. Black and blue fruit, cardamom and sage, meat and even barnyard aromas here. Medium plus bodied with rich berry fruit flavours, great freshness and smooth tannins. Somewhat rustic, and I love it, just like driving a vintage car or wearing vintage clothing. Needs food with an attitude, a game stew, or some intriguingly stinky and irresistible artisan cheeses like Ciel de Charlevoix or Clandestin.

2007 Syrah, T.H., Undurraga, Limari, Chile
T.H. stands for Terroir Hunter, the winery seeks out new, undiscovered areas such as the nowadays very much in vogue Limari Valley (400 KM North of Santiago with its rocky, minerally soils) that takes its name from the river which runs through it. Grapes come from a 2.8 HA parcel planted with vines between 12 to 20 years old. This wine smells like a fresh-baked blueberry pie, there’s also aroma accents of cassis, plums, cassia spice and musk on the nose. Medium plus bodied with lush and sweet fruit flavours, soft tannins and an intriguing juniper berry nuance on its finish. It has complexity, yet there’s certain elegance here. Will age well up to 5 years. 800 cases made. Under screwcap. I tried it with Black Walnut Lane Farm loin lamb chops with chocolate and mint dipping sauce and it was simply divine.

2008 Valpolicella Classico, La Salette, Veneto, Italy
Young and fresh with fleshy black cherry, blueberry, cacao and anise and other deep spice aroma notes on its nose. Light to medium bodied and fruity over the palate with light calibre tannins coming on its finish. Great with whole - roasted pheasant with dried cranberry - raisin - bread crumb stuffing and sautee root vegetables on the side.

2005 Ninfa, Joao Teodosio Barbosa, Ribatejo, Portugal
Touriga Nacional & Syrah. This red is simple, yet pleasing. Plummy, chocolaty on the nose and palate, juicy and pretty modern- style with just a soft bite of tannins adding extra structure and short - term age-worthiness. A cozy pasta dish comes to my mind to go along this tinto, grilled gourmet sausages and peppers in a tangy tomato sauce.

2007 The Grange Brut, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Traditional method sparkler made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, all estate fruit, so PEC’s first VQA bubbly, made by self-thought winemaker, Jeff Innes. Peach and peach pit, honey and yeast, mineral aromas. Med-weight with lemony, zesty flavours elevated by a med-intensity and persistent mousse; mineraly finish. I much enjoy it with roasted quail, raisin - Basmati rice and sautee salsify. Will be available for the holidays, so you won’t have to buy over-priced imports.

2007 Chardonnay, Barrel Fermented, Victoria Block, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Bouquet of stone fruit, tropical, resin, cedar and limestone. Medium to full with orange and vanilla flavours dominating, great acidity and a long, pleasant, oaky - toffee finish. Slow roasted pork tenderloin with plenty of roasted garlic, creamy potato mash and apricot coulis is a fair food match here.

2007 Unoaked Chardonnay, Trumpour’s Mill, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Pretty aromatic, pear and peachy with a soft - creamy texture and a clean - fresh finish. Oysters pop to mind.

2007 Riesling, Trumpour’s Mill, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Apples, lemon, wax and mineral aroma nuances here. Light to med-weight with sour quince and green apple flavours, and a tart finish. Asking for food. I tried it with crispy tuna with wasabi and citrus sauce, you should too.

2007 Chardonnay, Moira, Malivoire, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula
A boisterous Chardonnay, result of the hot 2007 vintage. So rich, canned pineapple, orange toffee, lemon cream and vanilla aromas and flavours. It’s explosive over the palate, lush, full-weight and an overload of glycerol, hot too, it’s everything, and almost over-the-top which does not stop me from loving it. This wine is just “learning to talk” and I am wondering how it will age, although I don’t really care because I want to drink more and more of it right now. Here’s a fat, but well deserved score for this wine that reminds me of just a tiny bit over-weight, but really sophisticated and much desirable woman. Or a cuddly fat cat, “the cat on the bench”…

NV Methode Traditionelle Brut, Estate Bottled, Chateau des Charmes, NOTL
The new label of Chateau des Charmes is a bit more modern and clean, but still maintaining a classic touch. The back label bears a 2D bar code, QR (quick response) code and what you could do is to take a picture of it wth your camera phone and by downloading a free application (go to beetagg.com) you will get instant access to tasting note, recipe and such. Made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from the 2005 vintage. Just imagine, this wine has spent 4 years on the lees before release. Apples, waxy - honey - yeasty and mineral notes on the nose. Full on the palate and gutsy with broad flavours and vivid mousse, and serious lenght. I like it with food, not on its own, and not too chilled neither. Also, forget about the traditional flute and pour this sparkler in a regular, larger size vessel, or even in a red wine glass. Try it with roasted rabbit with extra virgin olive oil and herbs.

2007 Merlot, Chateau des Charmes, St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula
Black cherry, plums, sage - thyme - herbal, exotic - cardamom - deep spice and dark chocolate aromas. Medium to full with fresh acidity and soft, well integrated tannins. The finish here has an interesting pickling spice accent. Will age 5 to 8 years. Decant it a couple of hours before if you can’t wait, that’s what I did anyway. A lovely wine to go with braised beef short ribs and wild mushroom risotto on the side.

2007 Pinot Noir, Estate Bottled, Trumpour’s Mill, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Bright nose with accents of strawberry, raspberry, red plum, currants, mint ad minerals. Gracious on the palate with a great depth of flavours and light-weight tannins; clean and long, fruity finish.

2007 Cabernet Franc, Estate Bottled, Trumpour’s Mill, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Kirsch and savoury fruit notes, fresh acids and a sour berry finish.

2007 Cabernet Franc, Northfield, The Grange of Prince Edward, PEC
Aromas of red cherry, raspberry, spicy - floral, limestone. Medium bodied with soft tannins and a long, herbal finish.

2001 Cabernet Merlot, Viewpointe, Lake Erie North Shore
This winery from the picturesque and shallow waters shore of Lake Erie likes to hang on to its wines and realese them later than usual. The nose here is so old world that if I would be tasting this red blind I would guess Italy. I get aromas of dried and/or dehydrated black fruit - cherry and plum, furthermore there are tobacco, leather, dried leaves and a neat spicy accent of nutmeg on the nose. Medium bodied and dry with a grip of tannins and a spicy - herbaceous finish. Drink now. Try with dried herbs and spice rubbed fatty tuna.

1999 Tinto, Luna Beberide, Bierzo, Spain
Made from a grape called Mencia. This red is still very much alive with black and blue fruit, deep spice, some earth and dried flowers - herbs aromas. Medium bodied and soft with savoury fruit flavours and a tiny bit of dusty tannins. Try it with grilled portobellos or semi-hard Iberian cheeses.

2008 Garnacha, The Potter, Tscharke, Barossa, Australia
Garnacha is the Spanish name for Grenache. Lots of sweet fruit aromas of raspberries, figs and underlying herbal and smokey nuances. Full and juicy with sweet tannins and a long, warm finish. Delicious, liquid MSG. I had it the other night with roasted ostrich.

2004 Chianti Classico Riserva, Guarnellotto, Castello San Sano, Tuscany, Italy
A traditional-style and clkassic Tuscan red here made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo. Red and black cherries, cnnamon and nutmeg, tobacco and leather, some tar and sweet gamey aroma and flavour notes. Medium bodied and focused with its elements well balanced. Spicy, earthy finish. Esoteric to be sure of, not a sipping wine, but with food. Ready to drink now. I tried it with Indian spices rubbed rare-roasted venison loin.

October 22, 2009

GFR Gourmet Media

Filed under: gourmet media — malcolmjolley @ 10:39 am

More and more mac’n'cheese
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704107204574469280985118244.html?mod=dist_smartbrief

The lady chefs of London
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/6327701/Women-chefs-Claire-Smyth-Skye-Gyngell-Thomasina-Miers-Maria-Elia-Emily-Watkins.html

American canned pumpkin shortage
http://www.nwaonline.net/articles/2009/10/07/food_nwa/100709fdpumpkin.txt

In praise of day-old bread
http://www.thestar.com/living/food/article/713217–tapping-day-old-gold

Everything on EVOO
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/extra-virgin-appreciation-101-how-to-really-savour-olive-oil/article1331390/

Vegan wine
http://www.oregonlive.com/foodday/index.ssf/2009/10/vegan_vino_sure_but_it_comes_w.html

Is tofu ecologically incorrect?
http://www.slate.com/id/2232916/

Is Mexican coke better?
http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2009/10/mexican_coke_cult.php

Chocolate persimmons
http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fow-market16-2009oct21,0,7303307.story

When Heston Blumenthal drops by
http://westerneasterner.blogspot.com/2009/10/my-evening-with-heston-blumenthal.html

Best steak frites in Paris
http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2009/10/where_to_find_the_best_steak_fri.html

American food revolution
http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_3_urb-american-food.html

October 21, 2009

Local Food Plus is Keeping it Real

Filed under: good food — gregbolton @ 6:47 pm

Even five years ago, ethical, environmentally conscious eating seemed, to so many, a very simple affair.

Step one? Look for products labeled “organic”. Step two? Buy ‘em.

Times change. As Michael Pollan notes in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the organic movement, which once felt like a decidedly grassroots affair, has become a $15 billion industry, and still the fastest-growing sector in the entire food chain. While we can all feel comfortable with the idea that organic farming practices are better than conventional ones, the reality has become rather complex.

What, for example, is the environmental footprint of all these large-scale operations, let alone the plastic lettuce boxes they’re shipping all over North America? Do we know whether workers are getting a fair shake? Should it concern us that many organic food companies have been bought up by major corporations - precisely the ones whose food practices helped drive us toward organics in the first place? And isn’t certified organic junk food still junk food, as nutritionist Marion Nestle famously asserted?

Finally, from a purely selfish perspective, is all this stuff as nutritious - and does it actually taste as good - as we expect from something labeled organic? For many chefs and consumers, an alarming amount of “big organic” food is only marginally better than the conventional stuff it was supposed to replace. It goes without saying, of course, that sometimes despite no discernible bump in quality, it also tends to be more expensive.

Like I said: complex.

This preamble is decidedly not directed at the many smaller-scale organic and biodynamic farmers - and surely, it’s still the vast majority of them - that are doing right by the environment, by their workers, and by their local economies. Yes, there are some companies using the organic label as little more than a marketing ploy, a fig leaf for business as usual. These are the few bad apples causing problems for a largely unimpeachable bunch. (And I promise that you’ll see no more of the heinous fruit salad of mixed metaphors I just dished up, but couldn’t bring myself to delete.)

So although for most of us, buying organic - being organic - is undeniably a good thing, when we’re talking about true sustainability, organic farming as we know it may only be one important piece of a much larger puzzle.

Enter Toronto-based non-profit Local Food Plus (LFP), an award-winning organization that certifies farmers for local,

Look for this.

Look for this.

sustainable food production and - critically - helps hook them up with buyers, ranging from the large (grocery store Fiesta Farms, for example) and small (food stores like Culinarium and Pantry, my own take-out and cafe; caterers like Real Food for Real Kids and Vert; and restaurants like the Gladstone Hotel, Cowbell, and Veritas).

The LFP system is unique in that its certified growers - approximately a third of whom are also certified organic - are required not merely to embrace responsible farming practices, but responsible environmental and economic ones as well. In other words, LFP assumes - and insists - that sustainability is possible not only by means of ethical production, but a whole series of interrelated practices encompassing everything from labour policies, native habitat preservation, animal welfare, and on-farm energy use.

It also extends its mandate to ensure that certified farmers prioritize the needs of local buyers, giving them a kind of “first-in-line” status, thus keeping more produce here in the province. This, presumably, further helps the local economy: local farmers, local drivers, local marketers - in the literal sense of “bringing to market” - feeding local buyers, creating a kind of virtuous circle of supply and demand.

This is LFP’s strength: its standards are not merely rigourous and wide-ranging, they’re eminently practical as well. Setting a high standard for food quality undoubtedly offers its own rewards, but if there aren’t measurable overall benefits for both farmers and consumers - and both individually and as members of a larger community - sustainable agricultural practices can run the risk of failing to be…well, sustainable.

Chris Alward, LFP’s Director of Market Development, notes that it’s not by accident that LFP embraces a mandate that stresses the interrelated nature of the economy and the environment: its two founders, Mike Schreiner and Lori Stahlbrand, come from an entrepreneurial and an environmental background, respectively. From the outset, both have always asserted that it’s impossible to separate the two issues.

“Lori and Mike met at an environmental awards ceremony, where they were both being honoured with awards, Lori for her work in environmental science, and Mike for his work as the founder of one of the first organic home delivery box programs in Toronto,” explains Alward. “They spoke after the show and joked that they had both basically given the same acceptance speech about the future of local and sustainable food.”

Essentially, from that meeting about 4 years ago, LFP was born.

Since then, the number of farmers participating in the program has more or less doubled each year, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Just last month, the number of LFP-certified acres in the Holland Marsh alone surpassed 1,000, and should climb to more than 2,000 by the end of this season.

When you consider that the Holland Marsh serves as what Alward calls “the back-yard garden” to  the GTA’s high-density population, that acreage amounts to an awful lot of sustainable chow.

LFP produce at Fiesta Farms

LFP produce at Fiesta Farms

Good news indeed, but even more encouraging is the driving force behind this rapid growth. While Alward concedes that his own efforts may have some small influence on the program’s expansion, the much larger one is consumer demand.

“Food is the only consumer good that we actually, you know, consume,” he notes with a smile. “And more than ever, people are mindful of what they’re putting in their bodies. Here in Ontario, they seem to be figuring out that we can be instrumental in helping them find the stuff they want.”

While farmer’s markets are a great self-serve outlet, consumers also putting pressure on more traditional distributors - stores - to start bringing it in. Restauranteurs are demanding the same things of their distributors. “When that happens,” says Alward, “they’re coming to us to find out how to get on board.”

In other words, the LFP brand is becoming ever more recognizable as a mark of local and sustainable practices - environmental, social and economic - and it’s helping buyers and sellers work together.

This trend is sure to continue as LFP expands its operations into some new regions: British Columbia, the Prairies, and the Atlantic Provinces. Alward is quick to point out that this can’t be cookie-cutter growth, however: while the program will still work with growers to ensure that rigourous standards are upheld, the entire certification process will be customized to each region. By necessity, it simply can’t be - and shouldn’t be - a one-size-fits-all program.

As well, LFP’s recognition factor will undoubtedly get a lift from its recent partnership with the World Wildlife Fund on Localicious, a celebration of local eating which ran from October 2-18 in select restaurants across the country.

Next time you’re out shopping or eating, look for the LFP logo. It’s popping up everywhere these days, and for both farmers and consumers - not to mention the environment and economy that we share - this would seem to be a very, very good thing.

In my opinion, at least, LFP is doing everything right. And it’s just getting started.

To learn more about the Local Food Plus, and to find certified, local, sustainable food near you, visit LFP’s newly-redesigned website.

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