Local Food Bites (Nov 12-18, 2012)

Welcome to the second edition of Local Food Bites, a weekly listing of food-related events in and around Regina! If you’d like to have an event added to Local Food Bites, please get in touch!

A Taste for Inclusion Potluck (RDLC)
Wednesday, November 14, 6:00 pm
Regina Union Centre, 2709 12th Ave
Regina’s cultural diversity continues to expand and the Regina & District Labour Council invites you to an evening of international cuisine. Bring a sample of some traditional food just the way grandma used to make it! Bring food that we have grown to love here in Regina or surprise us with something different. Everything and everyone is welcome. The kitchen downstairs at the Union Centre will open at 5:00 pm, with dinner to start at 6:00 pm. At 7:00 pm there will be a guest speaker: Louis Knight, aka Ras Munyiga Nosakhere. Then you are invited to stay for a regular General Meeting at 7:30.
Facebook event

Call for Proposals: Apathy into Action (RPIRG)
Deadline: Friday, November 16
Calling all students and community members: have you been working on a project or issue related to social and environmental justice that you think Regina needs to learn about? RPIRG is calling out to the community for proposals for its 6th annual APATHY INTO ACTION social justice conference at the U of R. For the past five years, Apathy into Action has been providing a chance for students and community members to come together and learn about pressing social and environmental justice issues. This year, Apathy into Action will take place January 17-19, 2013.
More info on submitting a proposal

Regina Farmers’ Market
Saturday, November 17, 9:30 am – 1:30 pm
Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre, 2900 13th Ave, Regina
Weekly indoor market runs until December 22, 2012.
Farmers’ Market website

Raw Food: Feast for Families (RPL)
Saturday, November 17, 2:00 – 3:00 pm
Regina Public Library, Prince of Wales Branch, 445-14th Ave, 777-6085
Make a mess in the kitchen with raw food chef Allysia Kerney. A hands-on program where kids make their own snacks and healthy desserts (that don’t taste healthy)! We’ll also discuss important nutrition issues such as what foods support vibrant health and what to eat to feel your absolute best. An older friend must accompany children under 12. Registration required.

Local Food Bites (Nov 6-11, 2012)

This is the first in a weekly series, listing food-related events in and around Regina. The goal of Local Food Bites is to help build a strong, cohesive food movement in Regina!

If you’re organizing a local event related to our shared food system, contact us and we’ll be happy to add it to the weekly edition of Local Food Bites and to our Events Calendar!

Tuesday, November 6
Meeting of Real Food Regina
7:00-8:30 pm: The semi-regular meeting of a group of interested foodies and food activists working on issues of food security, sovereignty and justice in the city of Regina. New members welcome!
Contact Root & Branch for more information

Friday, November 9
Harvest & Hunger: Provincial Forum on Local & Global Food Issues (organized by SCIC)
7:30 pm: Keynote Address by Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet (followed by questions and a book signing)
Mayfair United Church, 902-33rd St. W, Saskatoon
More info

Saturday, November 10
Harvest & Hunger: Provincial Forum on Local & Global Food Issues (organized by SCIC)
9:30 am – 5:00 pm
Mayfair United Church, 902-33rd St. W, Saskatoon
Root & Branch will be offering two workshops at Harvest & Hunger on Saturday afternoon: Eat Right Now: A 12-step program for industrial food addicts (1 pm) AND Sustainable Gardening for Year Round Eating (2:45 pm)
More info
To register

Regina Farmers’ Market
9:30 am – 1:30 pm: Weekly indoor market runs until December 22, 2012.
Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre, 2900 13th Ave, Regina
Farmers’ Market website

Weston A. Price Foundation Potluck
6:00 – 8:00 pm: An informal event where you can get a chance to meet others who are interested in traditional diets and the work of Weston A. Price, sustainably produced food and natural farming. All are welcome. RSVP, if possible, to Sandra (359-1732). Please bring a potluck item and some plates and cutlery if possible.
2640 Edward St (one block west of Pasqua Stand one block north of Regina Ave)
Facebook event

Sunday, November 11
Permaculture Book Club (Permaculture Regina)
1:00 – 3:00 pm: An informal discussion of chapters 3 and 4 of Introduction to Permaculture, organized by members of Permaculture Regina. (Don’t worry if you have not read the first 2 chapters and if you don’t have the book, there will be extra copies.) Please e-mail jane_anweiler@hotmail.com or phone 522-8692 for more information.
More info on Permaculture Regina

Celebrating World Food Day!

I’m heading up to Saskatoon this Sunday (October 14) to celebrate World Food Day (officially not until October 16) at a Saskatchewan Female Food Hero event organized by Oxfam Canada. The event will involve storytelling sessions by several of Saskatchewan’s Female Food Heroes (including me!).

This is going to be a wonderful way to Celebrate World Day and meet other Saskatchewanians who are working hard on food issues! If you’re in Saskatoon, come out!

WHEN: Sunday October 14, 2-4 pm
WHERE: Station 20 West, 230 Avenue R South, Saskatoon

Our Female Food Heroes are women who are working to build a movement for good food – food that is grown well and shared fairly:

Nancy Allan, Alanna Howell, Cathy Holtslander, Saba Keleta, Marcella Pedersen, Priscilla Settee, Nikko Snyder, And representatives from CHEP’s food work.

Join us to hear their stories and discuss what it means to be part of the movement for a just and sustainable food system.

Hosted by:
CHEP Good Food Inc, Engineers Without Borders, Heifer International Canada
Oxfam Canada, Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre

Ramping up local eating by preserving the harvest

On September 8, 2012, Root & Branch will be offering Preserving the Harvest: Taking local eating to the next level. At this workshop we’ll be exploring ways to make the most of the growing season and eat locally year round. Building the skills to preserve and store local foods through the winter is key to supporting our local food economy and increasing our food sustainability. I posted the following a few months back, but now that we’re knee deep in the abundance of the season I think it bears repeating!

Here are some tips for making the most of the coming harvest:

Update your definition of local eating. In a place like Saskatchewan, where the growing season is short, it’s easy to assume that eating locally is only possible for a few months of the year. But actually, with a bit of knowledge and planning, Saskatchewanians can eat our own local foods all year round. Not only that, but we can reduce our carbon footprints dramatically by learning how to eat what we grow in February as well as August.

Learn the best ways to preserve seasonal foods:

  • Learn which preservation techniques are best for different foods. For example, why freeze root vegetables when they can keep for months in cold storage?
  • Hone your food preservation techniques and learn new ones. Maybe you’ve experimented with freezing foods, but haven never tried canning them. And maybe you’ve heard about fermenting or dehydration, but don’t have a clue how to start.
  • Learn from parents, grandparents and older neighbours, who often have decades of valuable experience they’d love to share.
  • But also keep in mind that some wisdom has changed over the years. The science of canning, for example, is significantly different now than it was in your grandparents’ day. Make sure you have up-to-date information about safe food preservation techniques.
  • Consider taking a class in your community…oh wait! Like the one Root & Branch is offering on September 8, 2012!

Get to know your seasonal foods. Knowing when different foods become available helps you make the most of when they do!

  • Ask at your local farmers’ market about what will be coming available in the next few weeks, and plan preservation activities accordingly.
  • Ask about buying in bulk, which can often be more affordable. Farmers sometimes even have “seconds” that may be a little less pretty or uniform, but which are perfectly good for canning or freezing. Or at the end of the market they might be happy to get rid of what they weren’t able to sell for a little less.
  • Get to know how long the varieties in your own garden take to mature, so you can make time to preserve them when they’re as fresh as possible.
  • Keep good garden records, so you can learn from your own experience year to year.

Think about the materials you’ll need. Many food preservation techniques require little to no special equipment, but it pays to get organized before you’re drowning in food. Remember that foods preserve best when they’re at their freshest, so make sure you’re ready to go when the produce is!

  • Some materials are harder to find at the height of the growing season. For example, supermarkets often run short of canning lids at the height of summer.
  • Some materials will be more affordable during the off-season. For example, you’re more likely to find a good deal on a canner or dehydrator in February than in August!

Don’t make food preservation into an exercise in overconsumption! Just like everything else, it’s easy to fall into the habit of thinking you need to buy a ton of new things to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Fight the urge!

  • Look for used equipment at garage sales and thrift stores. As they wind down, older people often get rid of perfectly great equipment (e.g., canners, jars, etc.) at reasonable prices.
  • Don’t be shy to share equipment. Food preservation equipment isn’t the sort of stuff that’s in constant use, so why not borrow from a neighbour, or go in on equipment with a friend? For example, my mom and her friend wanted a steam juicer, which cost nearly $200 new and would only be in use a couple months out of every year. So they bought it together!

Treat food preservation like an art form. It’s no wonder that artisanal cheeses, breads and preserves are all the rage. Craftspeople who perfect food preservation skills are true artists, and food preservation offers all of us the potential for wonderful creative expression. Just as nothing in the world compares to the taste of a tomato picked fresh from the garden, there is nothing more satisfying than enjoying your own fermented sauerkraut, making fresh pasta from your own homegrown wheat, or sharing your own fruit preserves with friends and family!

Want to learn more about preserving your own food? Join Root & Branch at Preserving the Harvest: Taking local eating to the next level, for a broad, hands-on introduction to freezing, canning, fermenting, drying and using cold storage to preserve your own seasonal food.

Root & Branch at Secret Gardens Tour (July 14)

New Dance Horizons’ Secret Gardens Tour is a self-directed pilgrimage through several privately-owned Regina gardens, showcasing unique approaches to yard design and landscape architecture. Running July 13-15, 2012, participants are invited to explore the exquisite day gardens on July 14 & 15 and enjoy the dazzling spectacle of noctural gardens July 13 & 14.

As part of this year’s tour, I’ve curated and am hosting a speaker series that will be held in one of the featured gardens on Saturday July 14. Starting at 12:30 and running every half hour until 3:00 pm, there will be a series of short (10-15 minute) talks and performances by six inspired local artists, activists, academics and nature lovers. They will explore a diverse range of topics, from medicinal gardens to edible weeds, and from attracting bird life to foraging for urban fruit.

Please check out the Speaker Series program below. For more information about the the Secret Gardens Tour and to purchase tickets, check out www.secretgardenstour.ca.

Secret Gardens Tour Speaker Series

Saturday, July 14, 12-4 pm

12:30 pm            Tara Dawn Solheim

Tara has been commissioned to create original poetry and music for the CBC, dance shows, music festivals and the MacKenzie Art Gallery. She spent five years in Japan, where she sang with and wrote for bands. Tara’s original poetry and music draw on blues and jazz from the 1920-30’s and early rock ’n’ roll. She will be performing a selection of her songs and spoken word poetry.

1:00 pm                        Tanya Dahms

Dr. Tanya Dahms is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Regina, co-founder of the Saskatchewan Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (www.saskrce.ca) and co-owner of Valley Forest Organics. An avid believer in edible lawns, Tanya farms her urban yard and delights in replacing sod monoculture with food and native prairie plants. She will share the wonder and magic of working with, not against, the edible and medicinal “weeds” that abound in our urban ecosystems.

1:30 pm                        Shayna Stock

Shayna Stock is a writer and community builder who moved to Regina from Sarnia, Ontario, in 2007. Her poetry explores themes as diverse as social and environmental justice, her beloved bicycle, creativity, privilege, and heartbreak. Shayna is founder and host of Regina’s only monthly poetry slam, Word Up Wednesday. She will perform a selection of her original spoken word poetry.

2:00 pm                        Katherine Arbuthnott (Fruit for Thought)

Dr. Katherine Arbuthnott will speak about Fruit for Thought, a Regina-based urban fruit foraging organization that creates awareness of environmentally sustainable practices and reduces food waste by harvesting unwanted fruit from local trees and bushes around the city. A portion of the fruit goes to owner, a portion to volunteers and the rest to local shelters and food banks. Come learn more about this innovative organization.

2:30 pm                        Erin Laing

Erin Laing is a gardener, midwifery student, doula, and chartered herbalist-in-training. An advocate for peace through food security, gentle birth, community and compassion, Erin will explore the intersections between health, birth, and the medicinal garden.

3:00 pm                        Jennipher Karst

A longtime bird and nature lover, Jennipher Karst has participated in numerous ornithological research projects in habitats that range from prairie to arctic tundra to boreal forest to subtropical coastal wetland. She has been an active member of Nature Regina, Nature Saskatchewan, and the Wings Over Wascana Nature Festival, where she has led annual nature hikes and birding tours. Jennipher’s interpretive garden tour will explore botany, beasts, and strategies for attracting birdlife into urban settings.

Prairie kimchi adventures

Farmers’ market bounty

At last week’s Food Preservation Drop In, we started a batch of prairie kimchi. What on earth is such a thing, you may be asking?

Well, if you’ve ever eaten Korean food, you’ve probably tried kimchi. Traditionally, it’s Chinese cabbage, radishes, scallions and other vegetables seasoned with garlic, hot peppers and ginger fermented until it becomes a spicy pickle.

Preparing the kimchi

Koreans eat kimchi with virtually every meal, and according to the wonderful bookWild Fermentationby Sandor Ellix Katz, Korean employers even offer an annual kimchi bonus to employees so they can buy the supplies needed to make their yearly batch.

By “prairie” kimchi I simply mean that we made kimchi using whatever happened to be available at the Regina Farmers’ Market that particular Wednesday in late June. I scored organic kohlrabi, radishes and scallions, as well as greenhouse hot peppers from local farmers. You can experiment with all sorts of different vegetables.

Mixing in the spices

I followed the recipe (roughly) from Wild Fermentation, which is basically as follows:

  1. Mix a salt brine of about 4 cups water and 3-4 tablespoons salt (sea salt or pickling salt is best)
  2. Slice your chosen veggies thinly, and then soak in the brine for several hours or overnight until soft
  3. Grate the ginger, chop the onions/scallions and garlic, remove the seeds from the hot peppers and chop them too. Then mash it all into a spicy delicious paste!
  4. Drain and save the brine. Taste the veg. If it’s unpleasantly salty, rinse it. If it’s not at all salty, sprinkle a little more salt onto it. If it tastes a bit salty, you’re good to go!
  5. Weighting down the vegetables

    Mix the veg with the spicy mixture, and then pack it tightly into a jar or small crock. Brine needs to cover the vegetables entirely (or they will mold), so add some brine if necessary. To keep the veg beneath the brine, weight them down with a smaller jar, a plate held down by a jar, or a freezer bag filled with brine.

  6. Ferment in your kitchen. Check it every day, and when it tastes ripe, move it to the fridge. Or for a slower ferment, keep it in a cooler place.

Voila! Kimchi. At tomorrow’s (July 4, 2012) Food Preservation Drop In, we’ll sample last week’s batch and start a new one with whatever is freshest at the market in the morning! Come join us!

Letter in support of cosmetic pesticide ban

Below is the letter I sent today to our municipal administration, letting them know that I support a citywide ban on cosmetic pesticides in Regina.

Please feel free to use this text as the basis for your own letter, and send it to the Mayor (PFiacco@regina.ca), the Environmental Advisory Committee (EGOHLKE@regina.ca) and your City Councilor.

(And of course, if you haven’t already, please sign this petition in support of a ban!)

To the members of the Environmental Advisory Committee, Regina City Councilors and Mayor Fiacco:

I am writing to express my support for a citywide bylaw eliminating the use of non-essential pesticides in Regina.

In April 2012, the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) Working Group made the following recommendation:

“That (1) the City of Regina adopt a bylaw eliminating the cosmetic or non-essential use of pesticides; (2), this bylaw be developed in accordance with best practices of jurisdictions elsewhere in Canada that address this issue; and (3), City Council strive to adopt such a bylaw within three years proceeded by a two year education campaign.”

This common sense, progressive recommendation prioritizes the health of the community, and in particular its most vulnerable members. Pesticides have been linked to acute and chronic health problems in children and adults, including cancer, reproductive and neurological disorders. Pesticides also pose a risk to our environment, including the quality of our water supplies, and the health of aquatic and soil life.

Municipalities and provinces across Canada have responded by adopting pesticide reduction bylaws, and there are now pesticide bylaws in over 170 municipalities. Unfortunately, Saskatchewan municipalities are currently without any restrictions on the use of cosmetic pesticides, despite the fact that Saskatchewan has the highest household use of pesticides in garden and lawns in Canada. The city of Regina is among the top three cities (including Winnipeg and Saskatoon) when it comes to pesticide use, with almost half of households using pesticides on their lawns and gardens.

As a Regina resident, I am deeply concerned that after its April 2012 recommendation, the EAC Working Group has revised its recommendations to the following:

“(1) The City of Regina adopt a policy of avoiding cosmetic or non-essential pesticide use in the management of lands owned or administered by the City.
(2) The City encourage Wascana Centre Authority to also avoid cosmetic or non-essential pesticide use in the management of lands under the jurisdiction of Wascana Centre Authority.
(3) The City encourage residents to minimise cosmetic or non-essential pesticide use on their own lands.
(4) The City review the effectiveness of its pesticide policies after two years and continue or modify them as appropriate at that time.”

These recommendations are both toothless and regressive, and I encourage you, our municipal leaders, to prioritize the health of the community and proceed with adopting a citywide ban on the use of cosmetic pesticides.

Thank you for your consideration.
Nikko Snyder

Don’t abandon Regina’s proposed cosmetic pesticide ban!

After its April 2012 recommendation to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides in the city of Regina, the city’s Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) is now considering abandoning its original recommendation after pressure from business and stakeholders.

Pesticides have been linked to acute and chronic health problems in children and adults, including cancer, reproductive and neurological disorders. Pesticides also pose a risk to our environment, including the quality of our water supplies, and the health of aquatic and soil life.

Municipalities and provinces across Canada have responded by adopting pesticide reduction bylaws, and there are now pesticide bylaws in over 170 municipalities.

Unfortunately, Saskatchewan municipalities are currently without any restrictions on the use of cosmetic pesticides, despite the fact that Saskatchewan has the highest household use of pesticides in garden and lawns in Canada. The city of Regina is among the top three cities (including Winnipeg and Saskatoon) for pesticide use with almost half of households using pesticides on their lawns and gardens. (Learn more about the issue here.)

As a Regina resident and small businessperson, I am compelled to let our municipal leaders know that as a community, we care more about the health of our children than about the profit of the business sector.

On Thursday, June 28 at 5:30pm, the Environmental Advisory Committee will meet again to abandon its previous recommendation to adopt a bylaw banning cosmetic pesticides. Please show your opposition in any or all of the following ways before June 28:

  1. Sign this Avaaz petition
  2. Share the petition widely
  3. Come to the meeting of the EAC on Thursday, June 28, at 5:30pm at Henry Baker Hall, Main Floor, Regina City Hall. (Get the agenda and background information here.)
  4. Voice your opposition by writing to EAC Secretary Elaine Gohlke (EGOHLKE@regina.ca) and copying both Mayor Pat Fiacco (PFiacco@regina.ca) and your City Councilor.
    Here is a sample letter for you to use.
    If you don’t know which ward you live in, find it here.
    See below for the contact information of your City Councilor.
  5. VOTE in this fall’s municipal election, and speak to candidates about this issue


Mayor Pat Fiacco: 777-7339 or PFiacco@regina.ca
Ward 1, Louis Browne: 531-5151 or LBrowne@regina.ca
Ward 2, Jocelyn Hutchinson: 584-1739 or JHutchinson@regina.ca
Ward 3, Fred Clipsham: 757-8212 or FClipsham@regina.ca
Ward 4, Michael Fougere: 789-5586 or MFougere@regina.ca
Ward 5, John Findura
: 536-4250 or JFindura@regina.ca
Ward 6, Wade Murray
: 522-8683 or WMurray@regina.ca
Ward 7, Sharron Bryce
: 949-5025 or SBryce@regina.ca
Ward 8, Mike O’Donnell
: 545-7300 or MOdonnell@regina.ca
Ward 9, Terry Hinks
: 949-9690 or Thinks@regina.ca
Ward 10, Chris Szarka
: 551-2766 or CSzarka@regina.ca

Nikko Snyder at TEDx Regina

Nikko Snyder of Root & Branch, speaking on consumption, creativity, empathy and action at TEDx Regina in May 2012.

Rhubarb Three Ways (Part 4: Drying)

The third and final way we preserved rhubarb at Food Preservation Drop In (Week #1) was to make it into fruit leather!

Dehydration is less energy intensive that freezing or canning, and properly dried foods can store for a year or more (depending on the food). There are many ways to dry foods, including using the air, the sun, a dehydrator, or an oven. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, and some methods are better for different foods. The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest and The Solar Food Dryer are two great resources for more information.

This was my first attempt at fruit leather, so I was flying by the seat of my pants. I stewed the rhubarb with some of the last of last year’s saskatoons until somewhat thickened, and sweetened with honey to taste. Then I pureed the mixture in the blender and poured it onto parchment paper*, trying to keep the thickness as even as possible (1/4-1/8 inch), except for at the edges, where I made it thicker to account for faster drying.

I dried it for a couple of hours, until it was dry enough to pull off the parchment paper and flip over. I continued drying the second side until it was dry and leathery. To stack layers of leather or to roll it, dust cornstarch on it to avoid sticking.

It’s tart and will make a good snack! Not bad for a first attempt at fruit leather.

*Different sources recommend drying fruit leather on wax paper, plastic wrap, parchment paper and freezer paper, so I chose wax paper at random and dried one tray as a trial. Thankfully I didn’t use wax paper for all of it, because in my electric dehydrator the fruit leather fused to the wax paper and refused to peel off. Next, I experimented with each of the other options, and found that the leather also stuck to freezer paper, but did successfully peel off of parchment paper and plastic wrap. (I feel the need to research both further to understand better which is the least toxic.)

Part 1: Sourcing & Harvesting
Part 2: Freezing Rhubarb
Part 3: Canning Rhubarb

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