Eat Local

Ever since The Advertiser started putting my column on the world wide web, I have received complimentary emails from as far away as India, England, Germany, British Columbia, Columbia, Mexico, Texas, Florida, and others. Those are from former contacts, some of them exchange students that the Little Lady and I had the pleasure of working with over the years. Others have been from visitors having contacts in the area, which have shown an interest in what I’ve writ. 
But it matters not from where they come, the appreciation  is just the same. I think it was Mark Twain who, in effect, twanged the coinage: “A favourable little comment will keep a writer writing for an additional number of weeks.” So here I am folks juggling the alphabet each week, recycling thoughts that have on occasion crossed my mind.
After reading my morning emails, the questions that crossed my mind were: Does a cool beer taste any better in a pub in Mexico than it does in a local pub down the street? Does  Indian style cuisine in India, taste more superior than it does in a local restaurant? Does a vegetarian find more suitable fodder to munch on, in a far away place, than in a locally available presentation? Does chocolate please the palate more in Switzerland or Sweden, than it does from our local emporium? Is fast food more presentable in out of the way places than it is in our local outlets?
I, for one, think it does not. The multi-cultures that make up our country do a great job of presenting their back home know-how exceptionally well. It is this freedom, and the efforts of each, and their mingling, that has made Canada the interesting place that it is.
Which brings up an additional thought: Is it not time that we all started eating local? Reducing our carbon footprints while supporting local food systems is something everyone should and can do. A carbon footprint is a way of measuring the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced. It is measured in units of carbon dioxide. It estimated that the average food travels from pasture to plate 1,200 to 2,500 miles. Think of the energy that has been used to freeze, refrigerate, truck, fly, or ship that food around.
Besides helping the environment, eating local food tends to be safer as well. Small farmers tend to use fewer chemicals than the large factory type operations. As well, produce from outside countries tend to have weaker control of environmental standards.
I can’t imagine anyone wanting to do without coffee or tea, but we can all make an effort. Start by visiting our local markets, bakeries, butchers, breweries, and wineries. And, too, consider growing some of your own vegetables. A few packets of seed thrown into what used to be known as a kitchen garden and you will be eating fresh all summer, with plenty left over to preserve or freeze for the winter months. Get rid of that show-off ornamental flower bed and start annoying your neighbours by loading them down with fresh produce.
Potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, cabbage, and turnip store quite well in a cool dark fruit cellar, all else can be frozen or preserved. There is no excuse if you live in an apartment or condo with no garden allotment; tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, and such-like can be grown in planters on your balcony if properly attended. Try it; it’s fun.
Most vegetable varieties can be directly sown into your garden after the last frost date, but there are a few that need to be started sooner indoors. Check the detailed growing instructions usually on the outside of the seed package. It usually recommends from five to nine weeks advance planting indoors.
But let me warn you in advance; do not plant more than three zucchini – or you’ll drive all your neighbours away, by sending them, too often home, loaded down with zucchini. And let me warn you also about Hot Jalapeno Peppers. If science could figure out a way of converting their heat units, you would be able to heat your entire home all winter on the pickings from a single plant. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. They’re Hot, Hot, Hot.
Take care, cause we care.

Barrie Hopkins