I had a great day wandering the Vancouver Wellness Show and came home with a bag of goodies to share. That’s the sign of a successful tradeshow visit, isn’t it? Well not exactly, but getting free stuff always feels good. Which is what promotions people are counting on, that the goodwill of getting free stuff will make you feel good about the products they are promoting. But even at an event called The Wellness Show you really must keep your wits about you. Continue reading
I’ve been writing a lot about diary cows and animal welfare lately, but what I’ve actually been DOING is making sure to do my part when it comes to eating local. I have the good fortune to live in an area with lots of agriculture and food production, especially during the summer. That means great finds at the local farmers markets and some of the nearby farms.
Driediger Farms is a local institution and offers all manner of u-pick berries throughout the summer season. If you’d rather skip the back-breaking task of picking them yourself, you can of course pick them up from the farm market instead. (I wanted to get the full experience, and yes, it was a little hard on the back.)
The next variety of strawberries will be ready in a couple of weeks, so I’ll need to make these berries last. Which of course means…more jam! I may also go back in a few weeks and get some raspberries, my all-time favourite berry. EVER. (Better than candy fresh, also delightful as a raspberry liqueur. Mmmm.)
Envision individuals with few resources and limited opportunities being given the chance to do meaningful work, help contribute to a community that respects them, and grow lots of healthy vegetables (we know gardening is therapeutic). What a great social enterprise, right?
Then garden so effectively in limited space in an urban environment and harvest so much food you can make it available not only to individuals at farmers markets, but also to local restaurants. Lots of them. And do it all in a financially self-sustaining manner. That’s not possible, right? Oh but it is. Continue reading
I stopped in at one of my local grocery stores the other day, the Murrayville Marketplace IGA, to pick up some fresh ginger and boy did I get an earful more. It was awesome. Not only did I get the ginger I came for, I also found local kale on special “grown right around the corner” and more information on veggies and fruit than I ever thought possible in a 7.5 minute span. Warren, the produce manager, was a wealth of information. This guy is jazzed about produce and talks really, really fast.
It started with the kale, which looked great so I took two and was having trouble stuffing into the bag. That’s when Warren offered to help and advised it was local, local. As in right here, local. That, of course makes me happy. Which led to a comment about the lemons, which having been advertised as coming from South Africa, did not make me happy. Whereupon I was advised that they weren’t from South Africa, they were actually from California. Which since lemons don’t grow here or anywhere near here, is as local as I’m ever going to get and significantly more local than South Africa. Which makes me happy.
I’m not exactly sure how we got from California lemons to Hawaiian avocados, but from there he solved a dilemma I’ve been having with said vegetable — avocados in general, not the Hawaiian kind specifically.
Now, you know I love local and do what I can to make food choices that fit the criteria. But I do have my weaknesses and avocados are one. However, I can’t seem to get them to ripen lately. Especially when I buy them from the big box warehouse store — you know the one. They turn brown on the outside but are rock hard on the inside. “What gives?”
That’s when I learned the trick to ripening avocados. Warren told me all fruit gives off ethylene gas as it ripens and if you want to ripen something you just increase the amount of ethylene in its vicinity. His suggestion: put a banana or two in a plastic bag along with the unripened avocados, seal it, and presto, in a day or two you’ve got ripe avocados. Bananas give off a lot of ethylene so they are the perfect “gassing” agent. Also, heat helps so put the bag on top of the fridge. However, do keep an eye on them as too much of a good thing can cause “burning” or uneven ripening. If it gets too gassy and hot, just pop a hole or two in the bag.
Now, gassing one’s fruit sounds very chemical-ish and therefore nasty, but a little research turned up that it’s actually an ancient, naturally occurring practice:
“Ethylene has been used since the ancient Egyptians, who would gash figs in order to stimulate ripening (wounding stimulates ethylene production by plant tissues). The ancient Chinese would burn incense in closed rooms to enhance the ripening of pears.” Source: Wikipedia
Of course, today’s process isn’t quite as natural as when the Egyptians did it, as it’s done on a mass scale, but it IS how you get ripe fruit that comes from great distances. So if you want bananas that aren’t mush by the time you get them, you’ll be eating ones that have been gassed.
After that little exploration into the world of fruit and veg, I’m pondering what other dilemmas Warren may be able to solve and thinking up some really tough questions so I can go in and test him. I’ll let you know how it goes.