Tag Archives: local

Local food, local business, and how you can get mad.

picture-54It was a breath of fresh air to read Rino’s recent post about local support, and how frustrating it can be when it’s being used as a buzzword instead of a genuine way of doing business.

He also started a new blog for his business, Black Kettle Bistro, which he’s using as a soapbox for all things related to the business, and community in general. You should be checking it out anyway.

It’s tough a a business to do truly local business without some sort of infrastructure of locality being fostered by other business owners. Yes, there’s a paradox. Chicken or the egg.

Rino sounds like he’s more than willing to investigate where we can spend our money, as business owners, in the local economy, keeping our money here, avoiding the chains, rewarding our neighbours’ efforts to keep money within the community. We need more of this.

I encourage you to click on the link in the first sentence of this post to read Rino’s rant about local food, and the hypocrisy of myopic “buy local cars” sentiments by people who couldn’t find a local business in a phone book.

I know that the point is to be positive and move forward…but often, from the ground-level (the business-owner point of view) the awakening often begins from a spark of anger, feeling disrespected and forgotten. The concentration of that vitriol toward education of others, and varied business practice is the best we can do for now, without a strong, convenient local-business (food particularly) infrastructure.

Windsor Star reject

Okay, this is something I wrote for the Star.
I wrote it last week in the hopes that it would bring to light the group FedUp! They’re Windsor’s Community Gardening Network.
They had a WICKED veggie chili cook-off at the Windsor Workers Action Centre this Thursday that went by. The chili was so dynamic and different! Espresso veggie chili, raw (uncooked) veggie chili, blonde-with-mangoes veggie chili, and other wonderful tasting chili was showcased.
AND Jhoan won a raffle prize! Here’s a picture of her victory sticker! So awesome! These things, as posters, are selling for $500 right now.
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Here’s the story that was late for the Monday paper. I just didn’t think to write it early enough, but I wanted to share it nonetheless.

FedUp!
By Tom Lucier

I have almost no idea where my food comes from. If I said that 75 years ago, people would think I was insane. Today, most people are clueless of not only what they put in their mouths, but where it was grown.

FedUp! Windsor’s Community Gardening Network is on the opposite end of this knowledge spectrum. They are part of a locavore movement, bringing together local food growers, gardeners, and those concerned about food-health.

According to co-creator of FedUp!, Maya Ruggles, the group has four mandates, “To strengthen the local food system…to start gardens collectively and democratically…to reclaim the urban landscape (to start gardens)…and to re-skill people in all the things going into local food production and consumption.”

This enormous uphill project is remarkably appealing because it looks to remind Windsor-folk of just how verdant this area’s land can be. I was scratching my head as to why I have to buy a tomato from California (4800 kilometers away) when Heinz, located in the tomato capital of Canada (Leamington) is exactly 48 kilometers away from my front door.

FedUp! seeks to ratify these incongruent arrangements in several ways. But the group is young, and small. “Right now it’s totally volunteer run,” said Ruggles. FedUp! is two and a half years old, operating on a very small budget while donations, especially from OPIRG (Windsor’s Ontario Public Interest Research Group) have been instrumental in keeping the group afloat.

FedUp! is most concerned about getting members, who can sit on committees. Volunteers are needed on an event-to-event basis, which will have a higher demand in this new year as they begin hosting more and more events

Currently, the group hosts movie nights, potlucks, creates gardens for places including the Citizens Environment Alliance, Ecohouse, and Iris House, and hosts workshops on composting, urban foraging, and cook-off competitions.

Currently, there’s a mapping project on the horizon which aims to, “map out un-harvested sources of food…fruit trees that aren’t harvested, or edible bushes,” said Ruggles. They hope to map un-harvested edibles on public and private land.
Ruggles added, “The next step would be to coordinate people…to actually do the harvesting and distribute the food, or use it in some way.”

The mapping project, which would be immense, could also help network gardeners and locavores. Another positive spin-off, according to Ruggles, would be, “connecting people that garden who don’t have land with people who do have land that don’t garden it.”

Judging by my gardening woes, my wife and I will both be paying more attention to this group’s happenings. We’re similarly fed up with getting food from places we’ve never visited when we’re sitting on underused, underappreciated, concrete-covered land when the food that could sustain us is waiting to be grown in our own backyards.

Winery Tour; By Bike

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Jhoan and I went to Kingsville, bikes in tow, my Mom in the front seat, and Jhoan’s sister and brother-in-law following nearby. We were heading out to a Windsor Eats event in the county, where several wineries are located. You see, this area in Ontario is on the same latitude as the major wine producers in California and Europe. I think the one major difference is the fact that we get winter temperatures, making the ice-wine an incredible success in this area.

The windsoreats.com crew are motivated to promote the locally run/produced/staffed/grown food in the region. This bike tour was their baby, and in all honesty, I was skeptical.

A quick rundown of the day’s events.

Beginning at Aleksander Winery, we had some white wine as the Mayor of Kingsville mingled with the crowd, taking pictures under the large willow tree located in the back of the property. Loads of bikes were leaning, layin, or standing, waiting to embark on the 25km bike ride which would bring us to two other wineries before returning for dinner.

Upon arrival, I recognized a local musician, and all-around great guy, Mark Muzzin. He, with his wife (Isabella?) do a heap of work at the winery on a regular basis, feeding tours and giving tours, while tending to winery matters also. He gave me a sneak peek of what we’d be eating when we returned. I was speechless. Locally fed/grown veal with pasta (all sauce made from tomatoes and spices in the area), original seed Peaches and Cream corn on the cob, and a melange mix of salad from local greens. Everything on the menu was from less than 10 kilometers of the winery! Awesome!

As we mingled, Chico the bike tour guide was racing around the parking area to test EVERY BIKE to make sure the tire pressures were up to snuff. He filled loads of tires, including mine. What a supremely great idea and gesture to make sure everyone had the easiest ride possible.

We hit the open road, riding the furthest leg of the ride to Pelee Island Winery. When we arrived, we shopped a little bit, ad then began our tasting/tour of the entire workings of the winery. We must’ve tasted at least 6 wines (1 ounce pours are the norm) while moving from production room to room learning about how they make wine, why wine has numbers associated with it, and what the labelling means when you buy VQA wine.

It was interesting, informative, comfortable, and enjoyable all around.

We moved from Pelee Island Winery, a SLIGHT bit tipsy, to the last stop on the trip before returning. Mastronardi Estate Winery had been blessed by the weather gods, because we were able to get a vineyard tour, seeing the grapes, learning about how they are capable of raising the temperature in the vineyards when a cold snap hits (fascinating and almost unbelievable). We tasted four wines, I believe, and they had a rosee that was maybe the best thing I tasted on the entire tour! Beautiful.

When we returned, tired, hungry, and proud of our investment/purchases, we sat down to the meal which was absolutely everything you would imagine it to be. We ate outdoors, under a large white tent, tasting MORE wine (two reds and two whites) and recounting the nearly perfect day of family, love, exercise, libation, healthful local eats, and new friends. Pina and Adriano of Windsor Eats were untouchable in the vein of hosting an event so well-intentioned with people and companies who were SO WELL PREPARED! It went without a hitch.

My mother kept up with the crowd of cyclists, some racing for some reason, and she was riding a one-speed cruiser bike! I can’t say I would have been as capable without gears. I was lucky enough to coast through the ride with Jhoan most of the time, although I tried to stay behind with my Mom on the last two legs of the ride to create a bit of a draft for her. I don’t think I helped one bit, but I wanted to try.

Now to the finish. Yes I had to leave a tad early to rush to work in Windsor (30 minutes away), but this immaculate event was not a one time thing. They have another in September! It’s located at some other wineries in the area (Viewpointe for sure).

The kicker…the entire thing…the meal, the ride, the tours, the tastings cost each participant only $20. TWENTY BUCKS?! That’s practically FREE for what we got! I cannot say enough about this brilliant event, as it may be the best local outing I’ve ever been on in the region. Period. It was that good.

All that said, there is some video that I shot while on the tour…and you are welcome to watch some. It was windy, so the sound cuts out a bit at times, but you can still learn from what I taped.

And on the tail end of this high, I am off to spend a weekend on Pelee Island! I’m going with Dan and Jenna, and Tristan and Hilary. I will laugh so hard this weekend, I may get sick on myself.

Enjoy the videos.

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