Archive for November, 2010

Hart House is presenting TEDxHart House: The Future of Food on December 6, at 6:00pm.

Very cool.

“The Future of Food will explore some of the factors we must weigh as we choose what foods make it into our shopping carts. With the rise of issues like ethical eating, factory farming and food scarcity, the world is awakening to how we sow, grow, raise, reap, slaughter, transport, distribute, buy, share, cook, eat and dispose of food.” Read more.

The Bad News. The event is booked solid and they are no longer accepting applications to attend.

The Good News. They are filming the event and will be posting it on the TEDxYouTube channel afterwards.

Mark your calendars!


I came across some fascinating photos today by San Antonia TX-based photographer Mark Menjivar, who traveled the US examining food issues and photographing people’s fridges as he found them, warts and all.

“One person likened the question, ‘May I photograph the interior of your fridge?’ to asking someone to pose nude for the camera.”

Mmmm. Fridges are kinda personal.

The exhibit is called You Are What You Eat.

Enjoy, my voyeuristic friends!

Local, yes. Sustainable, no way.

Attending the Royal Winter Fair last Sunday was a rude reminder of the reality of mainstream farming.

Sorry to be a downer, but I saw plenty not to be happy about: University of Guelph food geneticists, pesticide companies claiming environmental stewardship, corn fed beef, (not to mention the usual bad coffee).

Whine whine. Gripe gripe.

At first glance, the Royal Agricultural Show is a great thing. The farm comes to the city and the farmers, at least on the surface, get the recognition they deserve.

But the fair is steeped in traditions (horseshows, auctions, biggest zucchini) that belie the dire situation of the farmers and their absolute dependence on the pharmaceutical companies who lord over them — a tradition in itself, unfortunately.

I came across some slick marketing materials by so-called pest controllers that use clever omissions in their copy to convince us that using pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers is not only necessary for plant growth, but actually improves soil quality and preserves wildlife habitats.

Come again?

I have nothing against the farmers. They’re caught in a cycle of chemical dependence that began after WWII and it is bleeding them dry. But seriously, does the Royal Winter Fair have to add insult to injury by having the very same forces that are destroying our food supply, our soil and our waterways claim the high road as saviour of these very things?

I thought this event was for the farmers.

Whine whine. Gripe gripe.

woman baking

"I only bake with whole grain flours."

Welcome to November folks, Toronto’s grey month!

The days are getting noticeably shorter, and our farmer’s markets are getting smaller. Eating locally, all of a sudden, feels a little more challenging.

But don’t despair. It’s just time to get creative and learn to use what we do have in new ways.

I, for one, have been thinking about baking.

Must be the weather. Every year it’s the same thing: the body senses the coming cold and we crave the heavier foods that give us the extra energy we need to keep warm – foods like soups and stews – made from squashes and root vegetables, or the breads and baked goods made from grains.

Conveniently, these are also the foods that are locally available to us this time of year.

If you bake, or plan to, it might be worth considering this little seasonal craving when you go shopping for flour.

Your body is seeking a source of energy. A longer lasting energy will keep you warm (and functioning) for a longer period of time. A longer lasting energy comes from slower burning food, i.e. food that takes us longer to break down and digest. What takes us longer to break down in the baking world? — Whole grains and flour milled from whole grain.

I know lots of bakers who defend their refined wheat flours for the white fluffy breads and cakes, and oh-so-flaky pastry that it creates. But I personally just don’t see the point.

The refined flour gives us an energy spike, followed after by a crash that leaves us feeling more depleted than before we ate! And so we then want to eat more. Also, with the fibre, vitamins and minerals removed in the refining process, that lily-white flour is actually just empty calories.

To give yourself the energy you need this time of year, try going whole.

Grassroots Organics (Ontario) has an excellent selection of local whole grains, including whole spelt, whole red fife and whole wheat. They also have kamut flour (excellent for cookies), buckwheat flour, rye and rice flours.

Although not local, Bob’s Red Mill (USA) flours are also widely available in health food stores, and it’s a good name for quality flours – including almond, quinoa, amaranth, millet, coconut, organic corn and bean flours.

Coconut flour? Okay, that’s really not local, but … it sounds so gooood!