By Alexandra Colby, Regenerate 2017 Attendee
Once in a blue moon, I get a revelation about the importance of food. I rediscover food sustainability, remember how interesting agriculture can be, and relearn how it all impacts my life and diet. I can remember the first time food culture hit me. It was at one of the International Plowing Matches I attended when I was a teenager. Attendees got handed signs that said “If you ate today, thank a farmer”. I remember thinking and counting all the things that I ate that day that started with a farmer, shocked that this had never come to mind before!
In University, a few of my classes touched on food sustainability and my interest was sparked again. I started to look at food differently, to be grateful to those who made it, sympathetic to those hungry, and inspired me to eat healthier and more local.
In pastry school, we learned how to make eating local and seasonal food trendy and tasty. I run the kitchen now at the Sons of Kent Brewing Company and the menu was expected to reflect all of those qualities. I have realized how big of a challenge it is to find local products, but to work together, to grow together, to eat together makes a healthy community.
The last revelation hit while I was at the Heritage Grain Weekend at Growing Chefs in London. I had originally signed up for the Bread Camp to hone my bread making skills with an established baker, Greg Wade from Publican Bakery in Chicago. I wanted to ensure that at the Brewery, favourable impressions would be made. It ended up being so much more than a Bread Camp!
We were discussing corn varieties used in tortillas. In Mexico, there are so many varieties to choose from, while in Canada there are few and these seem to lack flavour. I always thought of corn simply as the familiar yellow corn and it dazzled my mind that we have the capabilities to grow these delicious varieties but yet there is such homogeneity in our farming. Isn’t it said that variety is key to a healthy diet?
I would take part in another Heritage Weekend. It refueled my passion for food sustainability and enhanced my bread skills, all the while making some great connections with people. One of the most exciting outcomes of the weekend was making tortillas and of course, eating them! I look forward to see what will be in store next year. It would be great to have more discussion about heritage grain varieties specific to Canada. See you there!
Photos by Braden Dam Visuals
Learn more about our 2017 Regenerate Event Weekend held October 28 – 29 2017.
Regenerate is a regional collaboration between charities, not for profits, culinary educators, restaurants and businesses that seek to build a better food system to serve consumers in South Western Ontario.
What is Bread Camp?
Bread Camp is a 2-day experience educating and connecting growers, millers, bakers and chefs who are creating a rise in demand for local grains. This program will increase a baker’s capacity to procure and utilize regionally grown whole grains to build and develop the regional foodshed.