Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Ten Books of 2012

It’s a holiday tradition to review the books I’ve read over the past year. Here are my favourites for 2012. (It was a tough choice; when in doubt, I chose books that were less well known.)

I love to travel – both physically and mentally. The following books taught me a great deal about life in other countries.

Dancing in the Fountain: How to enjoy living abroad, Karen McCann
Oh, if only I could move to Sevilla, Spain, and really learn to speak the language and experience the culture like Karen McCann!

Home is a Roof Over a Pig, Aminta Arrington
This book provides an exceptional overview of education (kindergarten and university) in China and the inherent contradictions between what people believe and what they say.

Running Away to Home: Our family’s journey to Croatia in search of who we are, where we came from, and what really matters, Jennifer Wilson
A family lives in a small village in Croatia for a year.


Chasing Chiles: Hot spots along the pepper trail, Kurt Michael Friese, Kraig Kraft, Gary Paul Nabhan
A fascinating account of chile peppers – where they are grown, where they came from and how climate change is affecting chile farming. This book is of particular interest to Slow Food members.

My Berlin Kitchen: A love story (with recipes), Luisa Weiss
A book for everyone who is unsure of where they want to live or who they are meant to be – plus lots of recipes.

Food and the City: Urban agriculture and the new food revolution, Jennifer Cockrall-King
A number of books have been published recently about urban farming; this one is particularly good. Based in Canada, Jennifer takes us on a tour of urban farms around the world. (Jennifer is a Slow Food member.)


The View from Lazy Point: A natural year in an unnatural world, Carl Safina
Safina travels north, south, east and west from his home on Long Island to determine the state of the world’s oceans and lands. There’s hope as well as concern, and his poetic writing does a wonderful job of describing places and people.

Chasing Wildflowers: A mad search for wild gardens, Scott Calhoun
Calhoun hits the road in search of wildflowers in bloom – from Mexico to California. The photographs and text do an excellent job of encouraging readers to share his passion.

Business & Communications

Winning the Story Wars: Why those who tell (and live) the best stories will rule the future, Jonah Sachs
This book has inspired me to change the way I communicate in order to effectively share values as well as information – a must-read for communications professionals and non-profits.

Bright Lights, No City: An African adventure on bad roads with a brother and a very weird business plan, Max Alexander
Max Alexander’s brother believed that Africa needed successful businesses, not charity – and he set out to prove it. Read this book if you are an entrepreneur or social activist or interested in Africa.

Christmas Bonus 
I’ve been reading these books over the holidays. They are still so fresh that I’m not sure if they fit within my top 10, but they are certainly worth reading.

Owls and Other Fantasies and Blue Iris, Mary Oliver
Oliver’s nature poetry paints pictures in words and always delights me. For example, she describes a heron as “an old Chinese poet, hunched in the white gown of his wings.” These short books are compilations of some of her best poems about birds and plants.

The Old Ways: A journey on foot, Robert Macfarlane
Macfarlane brings to readers’ attention the web of paths that cover the globe. “As I walk paths I often wonder about their origins, the impulses that have led to their creation, the records they yield of customary journey, and the secrets they keep of adventures, meetings and departures,” he says. The book is a meditative, philosophical account of some of his walks.

See also: Outstanding Books of 2011

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Axon Slow Food Tapas Party

“Slow food is real food,” says Mike McKeown of Prairie Harvest Café. Rather than mass-produced food that has been transported thousands of miles and contains unpronounceable chemicals and preservatives, I eat Wally’s carrots, Michelle’s macarons and Trent’s bread.

My brother, Andrew, and his wife, Shelley, share my appreciation for high-quality, local, organic food, so we decided to host a Slow Food Tapas Party for the staff of Andrew’s company, Axon Development Corporation. We had so much fun, and the food and drink were both beautiful and tasty. Here are some of the highlights.

Many hands made quick work of the set up and preparation. Shelley did an amazing job of cooking and organizing, and we’d never have been ready on time without help from Jennie.

Saskatchewan grains and pulses: Shelley made Wild Rice Balls and Hemp, Lentil and Flax Cookies. We served bite-sized portions of Wheat Berry Salad, and there were four varieties of bread from Earth Bound Bakery: Red Fife Sourdough, Hemp and Sesame, Date and Fennel, and French Baguettes. We also served three kinds of hummus.

Saskatchewan fruit and berries: Tiny Flax Pancakes were topped with Sour Cherry and Raspberry sauces. The chocolate bars and Wheat Berry Salad contained Seabuckthorn Berries. We also had various fruit vinegars and chutneys.

I’m a cheese fanatic so I’m thrilled to now be able to purchase locally-made cheese. We served four kinds of cheese from Herschel Hills Artisan Cheese House: Feta, Halloumi, Goat and Camembert.

Floating Gardens’ year-round greenhouse has expanded the season for fresh vegetables. I love their cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh greens and herbs, and the edible flowers add a touch of class.

Many people aren’t aware that carrots come in a variety of colours and shapes, each with their own particular flavour and texture. One woman was sure that we had dyed them. But no, they are all grown locally by Wally Satzewich.

Michelle Zimmer of Wild Serendipity Foods went to France to learn how to make macarons. We haven’t found anyone else who makes them as well as she does.

A party wouldn’t be complete without beverages and ours were as local as possible with fruit wines from Living Sky Winery, liqueurs from Lucky Bastard Distillery, and four kinds of beer from Paddock Wood Brewery. We served wines from British Columbia, Oregon and California, plus an organic wine from Argentina. We also had non-alcoholic fruit ciders.

We purchased nearly all the food at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, SaskMade Marketplace, Earth Bound Bakery and Dad’s Organic Market. It would be unmanageable to include a list of all the products and their sources, but I’ll be happy to answer requests for additional information.

Photo Credits: Andrew McKinlay

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Oasis of Good Food on 20th Street

As Saskatoon grew, the large supermarkets moved out to the suburbs, leaving older neighbourhoods, such as Riversdale, without a grocery store. For 13 years, local residents, who often didn’t own a car, didn’t have easy access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

Good Food Junction: Fresh Fruit and Vegetables 

That’s no longer the case. Good Food Junction opened in September 2012, and the first thing you see when you enter the store is a display of fresh fruit and vegetables.

It’s not a big grocery store, but it has an ample supply of local vegetables (carrots, potatoes, beets, cabbage from the Milden Hutterite Colony), fresh bread made by local youth at Three Sisters/Nestor’s Bakery, a dairy and a meat section, as well as a variety of dried goods.

“Gene Dupuis, the owner of Prairie Meats, is so community-minded – he’s done an awesome job,” says Ralph Winterhalt, the manager of the Good Food Junction. “He vacuum packs all our meat so that it will have a longer shelf life.”

Good Food Junction is very much a part of the local neighbourhood. They supply Root Down Workers’ Cooperative as well as a local day care and many other community organizations. Ralph also hires local residents as much as possible.

The Good Food Junction operates very much like any other local neighbourhood grocery store, but there is one significant difference. They do their best not to sell any addictive products, such as tobacco or lottery tickets.

Apart from this one restriction, customers are encouraged to fill in a request sheet at the tills or let Ralph know if they don’t see what they are looking for. “We’ve brought in products like feta cheese, unsweetened soy milk and gluten-free rice flour at customer’s request,” says Ralph. “We’ll try and meet every request, within reason as we only have limited space.”

Ralph used to own Ralph’s Confectionaries, and he built four out of five of the stores from the ground up, so he knows his way around establishing a business. He’s also a long-time supporter of Station 20 West. Starting out as a volunteer on the advisory board, Ralph went on to become the Business Development Manager for the Good Food Junction, Project Manager for Station 20 West, and now Manager of the Good Food Junction.


I hadn’t realized that there would be a restaurant at Station 20 West until I met Roman Goodheart, the chef and manager, at a Slow Food Saskatoon event, and he invited me to drop by and visit.

The CHEP Café offers healthy, affordable food that local people will enjoy eating. They hire entry-level workers, providing them with the training they will need to apply for work in the food industry.

As CHEP Good Food Inc.’s first social enterprise initiative, the café has a triple bottom line. Their success will be judged based on their social and environmental achievements as well as their economic success.

It’s a simple menu but tasty with fresh soup and sandwiches daily and a variety of salads, cookies and muffins.

We sampled the black bean and fresh veggie sandwich, and it was delicious.

The soups are packed with vegetables, and the baking is made with 50% whole wheat flour. Soup is $3.00 while wraps are $6.50 (Black Bean, Roasted Corn and Salsa or Fresh Veggie & Goat Cheese). Cookies are only $1.00.

Roman hopes that catering will eventually contribute 70% of sales in order to help cover the costs.

There are 22 seats in the restaurant which has large windows overlooking 20th Street. Artwork will be provided by the artists who participate in CHEP’s Art Auction.

Station 20 West has a zero waste policy, so the restaurant has recycling bins for cans, plastic, trash and organic waste.

“We’re using biodegradable products even though they’re more expensive,” explains Roman. “But we still don’t want them to end up in the landfill. We plan to shred them and add them to the garden compost.”

CHEP supports Saskatoon’s community gardens, and they just started a new one at Station 20 West last summer. Roman hopes that it will become a production-oriented garden so that he can use the fresh produce in the Café and teach kids how to garden.

Be sure to visit Saskatoon’s healthy food oasis on 20th Street. Enjoy a tasty lunch in the restaurant before picking up a few groceries in the Good Food Junction. You’ll be greeted with good food and smiles.

Photo Credit: Shelley Ballard McKinlay

Monday, December 17, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 17, 2012

Prairie Pie Co.’s Home Baked Oatmeal
My go-to breakfast at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market is home baked oatmeal topped with fruit and cream from the Prairie Pie Co. It’s healthy and delicious – the perfect way to start the day. And now I can enjoy it at home as well. Mary Uzelman and her sister, Cindy Placatka, are selling ready-to-serve baked oatmeal in two flavours – Tart Cherry & Almond or Saskatoon Berry. Yum!

A New Look for City Perks
City Perks on 7th Avenue starts renovating their space on December 27. They’re finding a little more room for customers and redesigning the kitchen to make it more convenient. Their designer is Jacqueline Neusch from Sew Chic Eco Décor. I spoke to Jacqueline last year about her environmentally-friendly design practices, working with refurbished, repurposed, and sustainable furnishings.

Great Tea, Great Service
I’ve been purchasing loose leaf tea online from Camellia Sinensis Tea House in Montreal for a number of years. They have a very large collection of teas to choose from – I know of no one else who offers so many different varieties of oolong.

They travel to Asia each year to visit the farmers and source the teas that they will offer for sale. Many of the suppliers are small, often organic, farmers and Camellia’s blog introduces the farmers and their land, creating a personal connection between the grower and the consumer.

In addition to flavourful tea, Camellia Sinensis provides outstanding service. When I opened my most recent purchase, I found that they had included a pretty little tin of Puer Langhe from Vietnam. I’ve been wanting to try Puer tea – and now I can.

Cake Witch Café, Dec. 21
The Cake Witch Café (3008 5th Street, Rosthern) is holding a Last Minute Stocking Stuffer Bake Sale on Friday, December 21 from 3-8 pm.

2013, International Year of Quinoa
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has designated 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa. Two filmmakers, Michael Wilcox and Stefan Jeremiah, headed to Bolivia to find out why such a tiny grain merits world-wide attention. Here’s a promo for their documentary, The Mother Grain. (via The Huffington Post)

Eat Orange
US researchers have found that women with the highest levels of carotenoids in their blood had the lowest risk of breast cancer. So folks, let’s eat lots and lots of carrots and oranges and sweet potatoes!

True Food
If you’re looking for ideas on how to eat more healthily, check out True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure by Andrew Weil, Sam Fox and Michael Stebner.

The book combines recipes and essays to help you prepare food that tastes delicious and promotes well-being. (via Shelley – thanks!)

My Berlin Kitchen
I am thoroughly enjoying reading My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss. Torn between her roots in Berlin and New York, she cooks her way to happiness, finding love along the way. If you’ve ever felt confused and out of place, you’ll cheer for Luisa as she finds her place in the world. Lots of recipes too!

Merry Christmas!
I’m taking some time off over the holidays. Flavourful Saskatoon will be back again on Monday, January 7.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

Follow me on Twitter, like the Wanderlust Facebook page, or subscribe to Wanderlust and Words by email (top right-hand corner) to stay on top of Saskatoon’s evolving food culture.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 10, 2012

Ingredients Artisan Market 

I visited Ingredients Artisan Market at the north end of Earl’s on Saturday and fell in love – big windows, classy décor, wine tasting, deli with cheese and fresh products, an Italian espresso machine, bread from Christie’s, and lots of intriguing products from around the world (English crisps, Tahitian vanilla extract, tipsy olives, chocolates). I’ll be going back very soon for a more extensive visit.

Sunday Brunch at Root Down
The Root Down Workers’ Cooperative is now serving Sunday brunch (Belgian waffles, burritos, tofu scramble, paddy cakes and more). Sounds delicious!

Life, Legumes & Pursuit of Nitrogen, Dec. 13
Saskatchewan is the world’s largest exporter of lentils, and commercial lentil varieties bred at the U of S account for a third of global production. Best of all, lentils and other legumes add nitrogen to the soil where it can be used by other plants. Bert Vandenberg, NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Lentil Genetic Improvement, U of S, will talk about the importance of legumes in the wider ecosystem and the ecological virtues of pulse crops at the Saskatoon Nature Society’s meeting – 7:30 pm, December 13, Room 106, Biology Building, U of S.

Holiday Lunch Buffet, Dec. 14 
Garlic Guru, Riverbend Plantation and Wild Cuisine are offering a Holiday Lunch Buffet on Friday, December 14, from 12 to 2 pm. The menu includes Roasted Red & White Onion Soup, Fig & Apple Salad, Turkey, Wild Cajun Roasted Root Vegetables and assorted desserts.

Wild Cuisine, Dec. 16
Wild Cuisine Eats is holding its grand opening on Sunday, December 16, at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. They’ll debut their new Bagel Bison Breakfast Sandwich. There will be free Honey Whiskey Duck Wings and a chance to enter a draw for a catered private dinner.

Body Butter Café 
Body Butter Café is selling soap made from Paddock Wood beer – sounds like a great stocking stuffer. Body Butter Café bath and body products are available at Mother’s Melody and Positive Passions.

Petrofka Bridge Orchard
Petrofka Bridge Orchard is for sale. I hope it goes to good owners who maintain and expand the fine traditions established by Mike and Anne Noel.

Herschel Hills Artisan Cheese House is selling cajeta, a rich caramel sauce. I drizzled it on plain Greek yogurt – yum!

Flour – So Many Options
Steep Hill Food Co-op is selling almond, sorghum, chickpea, barley, oat, unbleached, stoneground wheat, rye, buckwheat, spelt, kamut, gluten, coconut and arrowroot flour.

Books about food make a great Christmas present.

Foodshed: An Edible Alberta Alphabet by dee Hobsbawn-Smith is the winner of the Best Food Literature (Canada-English) at the 2012 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

Taste: Seasonal Dishes from a Prairie Table by CJ Katz won Best First Cookbook (Canada-English).

Amy Jo Ehman offers additional suggestions on her blog, Home For Dinner.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

Follow me on Twitter, like the Wanderlust Facebook page, or subscribe to Wanderlust and Words by email (top right-hand corner) to stay on top of Saskatoon’s evolving food culture.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, December 3, 2012

Just Ginger 
Just Ginger is right beside the door as you enter the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market.

The vendor has an amazing collection of preserves made with ginger – candied apple ginger jam, ginger seabuckthorn syrup, garlic ‘n chili sauce, raw pickled ginger and candied ginger (with and without seabuckthorn) and more. I really like the chutney.

Eagle Hill Foods
Shelley, my sister in law, visited Sun Dog Craft Fair this past weekend and brought back some Eagle Hill Foods chocolates. They were delicious! Each large square was filled with a fruity mixture of saskatoons and cherries (with a little sugar, corn starch and rice krispies).

Eagle Hill Food also sells fruit toppings, cherry juice and iced teas. All their products will be available at the Little Corner Store at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market; some are available at SaskMade Marketplace and Nutters.

Herschel Hills Artisan Cheese
I am delighted by the variety of different cheeses that are now available from Herschel Hills Artisan Cheese House. The Truffle Camembert is one of my favourites, but I also enjoy the chunks of feta, and I’ve heard that the fresh goat cheese topped with red pepper jelly is also excellent.

Don’t miss their booth at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on Saturdays and Sundays – there are always lots of samples.

Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, Dec. 8 and 19
There will be Christmas celebrations at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on both Saturday, December 8, between 11 and 1 and on Wednesday, December 19, from 3-7.

State & Main, Dec. 5 
State & Main, a small Alberta chain of restaurants, opens in Saskatoon on Wednesday. They’re across the street from Persephone’s Remai Theatre and have an outdoor patio that should be great once summer rolls round again. There are a few vegetarian options (veggie burger, flatbreads, appetizers), and you should be able to find gluten-free options. Menus are location-specific, so be sure to look at the Saskatoon menu.

Cake Witch, Dec. 6
Are any of you familiar with Barbara Harder-Lutz, the Cake Witch, who sells German-style cakes at the Wednesday market at the Refinery/St. James? They sound really good (German Chocolate-Vanilla Marble Bundt Cake, Black Forest Biscotti, Linzer Stars, and more!) and I’m eager to try them, particularly as she plans to open a bakery in Rosthern.

You can check out the Cake Witch Café (3008 5th Street, Rosthern) on December 6 from 3-8 pm when Barbara is hosting a Nikolaus Day Christmas Craft Fair with music, crafts, artists, authors and fresh German Christmas baking).

The Griffin Takeaway
In addition to a wide variety of gluten-free baked goods, The Griffin Takeaway, located next to JYSK on 8th Street East, has some really tasty sandwich options. The Avocado and Artichoke sandwich is stuffed with big, fat chunks of artichoke – perfect for artichoke fanatics like me. I also really like the Olive & Goat Cheese sandwich, and I’m looking forward to trying their Jacket Potatoes with a variety of different toppings.

Vancouver Food Strategy
Vancouver’s new food strategy will go before city council in late January 2013. Vancouver’s urban farm land has quadrupled in the last 2 years, and Alterrus Systems harvested their first crop on the roof of a downtown parkade in November. The new strategy focuses on improving food access in low-income neighbourhoods and expanding urban farming initiatives.

Organic Food Certification
The PLU code used by most produce distributors contains some useful information. If the code begins with a 9, you know the produce is organic. A number 8 prefix, less common, means that it’s genetically engineered. (via Isobel - thank you!)

Unfortunately, Canada’s organic food certification may not be too reliable. A recent article in The National Post questions whether there is adequate testing before crops and livestock are certified organic.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

Follow me on Twitter, like the Wanderlust Facebook page, or subscribe to Wanderlust and Words by email (top right-hand corner) to stay on top of Saskatoon’s evolving food culture.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 26, 2012

Christmas Shopping Goes Local
LocalSask has made it easy for us to shop locally this Christmas. Their online catalogue includes everything from children's toys to alpaca socks and gourmet food baskets. And it's all local!

Two Gun Quiche House
My sister in law, Shelley, had lunch at Two Gun Quiche House on 20th Street last week and gave it a good review. None of the sandwiches were vegetarian, but she thought they sounded good. And at least 4 of the 8 to 10 quiche options were vegetarian, and there was a chick pea salad that sounded interesting. Shelley says that the spinach feta quiche was excellent, and the vegetarian carrot-ginger soup was awesome with a little crème fraîche drizzled on top.

They were serving loose leaf teas (including vanilla earl grey) – a sign, according to Shelley (and I agree), of better quality. The restaurant is bright and colourful, and there’s lots of room between the tables so it didn’t feel crowded.

Two Gun Quiche House will be expanding its hours in the new year and offering a dinner menu as well as some breakfast items.

Job Opp
SaskMade Marketplace is looking for a full-time Assistant Manager. For more information, contact Ken Neuman at 955-1832 during business hours.

Eaux de Vie
LB Distillers has taken the fruit pressings from their yummy liqueurs (saskatoon berry, seabuckthorn, carmine jewel cherry, crème de cassis) and turned them into Eaux de Vie. They also have locally distilled vodka and gin. It’s definitely worth stopping by the distillery (1925 Avenue B North) to pick up a bottle or two.

Saskatoon’s Persian Store
One of these weekends, I am determined to visit Saskatoon’s Persian Store to pick up some of their ready-made products. I’ve been following their Facebook page and over the past few weeks they’ve had asheh reshteh (herbs and bean soup) and sholeh zard (rice pudding with rosewater, pistachio and saffron).

Ingredients Artisan Market
According to Twitter, Ingredients Artisan Market (next door to Earl’s on 2nd Avenue) opened on November 23. I haven’t had a chance to visit yet, but, in addition to wine and spirits, they are selling local, organic produce from Fresh n Local. (via @curtisj_coleman)

Land Access and Affordability
Little Swan is a proposed small-farm community near Sylvan Lake, AB. It's designed to promote local food, small farms and new farmers. As dee Hobsbawn-Smith says, it's an interesting take on increasing land access and affordability.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

Follow me on Twitter, like the Wanderlust Facebook page, or subscribe to Wanderlust and Words by email (top right-hand corner) to stay on top of Saskatoon’s evolving food culture.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 19, 2012

Wild Cuisine Catering, Nov. 20
 Wild Cuisine Catering opens for breakfast and lunch at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on November 20. The menu is fairly meaty with a boar sausage sandwich and a maple bourbon barbecue burger, but there are also soups and pizzas that will include some vegetarian options. Be sure to support this new, local business.

Wine Tasting, Nov. 30 
Souleio’s wine tasting on November 30 features three wines: Kuyen, a biodynamic wine from Chile; Mitolo Jester Vermentino from Australia; and Terra d'Orro Zinfandel Port from California. The musical accompaniment will be from Percussion Syndicate.

Mediterranean Breeze

Be sure to visit Mediterranean Breeze, one of the newest vendors at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. I’m particularly enjoying their spinach rolls, but they have a variety of other options as well, including a Persian Salad.

Paddockwood’s Sour Red 

I had supper at The Woods Alehouse last week. I tried Sour Red, one of Paddock Wood’s newest beers, and really enjoyed the fruity flavour, similar to a lambic beer, with a dark coffee undernote. I’m looking forward to trying their Winter Ale. The hummus plate is beautifully laid out.

Mexican Flavour
I picked up a container of Tajin at Las Palapas Mercado yesterday. It’s a fruity Mexican seasoning made of chile peppers, salt and dehydrated lime juice. I sprinkled it on cubes of sweet potato that I’d coated with oil and then roasted them for a quick side dish – very tasty. (Thanks for the tip, Shelley!)

Festive Vegetarian 
People always seem to be at a loss as to what to make for a festive vegetarian meal. I love the looks of these vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes from Herbivoracious – Saffron Chickpea Stew with Grilled Porcini Mushroom, Crisp Polenta Cakes with Braised Cabbage and Beans, Summer Squash and Portobello Mushroom Lasagna, Delicata Squash Stuffed with Orzo in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce, Persimmon Carpaccio with Fennel Salad, Baby Turnip Salad Tip-To-Tail Style, and more!

Our Global Kitchen

I wish I could go see the Our Global Kitchen exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. It covers the full spectrum from growing food to cooking it, as described in this Ecocentric blog post. There are some excellent online resources for teachers and parents, but the link seems to work better on some browsers than others (I got it to work on Google Chrome).

Coconut Water – All It’s Cracked Up To Be? 
Coconut water – you can buy it everywhere at the moment. It contains natural sugars and some important vitamins and minerals, but it may not be a “wonder tonic.”

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

Follow me on Twitter, like the Wanderlust Facebook page, or subscribe to Wanderlust and Words by email (top right-hand corner) to stay on top of Saskatoon’s evolving food culture.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Heifer International Canada

Images of starving children are heartbreaking. Their immediate need is food, but that’s a very short-term solution as Dan West, an Indiana farmer, realized as he ladled out powdered milk for Spanish Civil War refugees. If he could give hungry people a cow, rather than just milk, they could feed themselves.

Heifer International was formed in 1944, and West and his neighbours began distributing cows throughout Europe following World War II. Heifer International’s scope has expanded enormously over the past 65 years. “Livestock is just a tool for community development,” Gord Enns, Executive Director for Heifer International Canada, explains. “You can’t just come in with solutions. The challenge is to build social, economic and environmental sustainability.”

Nowadays, the tools are changing. Instead of a cow, it may be a bike trailer for a young woman starting up an urban farm in Toronto or an internship program to help young people who want to take up farming. But Heifer’s goal remains the same: to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth.

Setting up Heifer Canada
Gord Enns grew up in Saskatoon and now lives on a farm near Osler, Saskatchewan. After working with the Mennonite Central Committee in Zimbabwe and teaching in India, Gord and his family spent some time volunteering at the Heifer Ranch in Arkansas. Heifer International offered Gord a job, but the family decided they needed to go home to Canada.

Gord started volunteering on Heifer projects in Saskatchewan and in 2002 he was hired as the Canadian Prairies Program Manager.

Under Gord’s leadership, Heifer continued to expand its Canadian operations. In 2012, Heifer International Canada became an official independent entity with charitable status, a head office in Saskatoon and projects in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

One World
Hunger and poverty are not just third-world problems. Over three million Canadians don’t get enough to eat.

For each dollar of farm income earned, Canadian farmers carry $23 in debt – not much incentive for young people to become farmers. Food futures speculation in the developed world triggers high prices and food shortages in countries around the world.

“The issues are very interconnected,” Gord says. “By talking about problems internationally and locally, we can engage people and show the links between the two.”

Passing on the Gift
When a family received a cow, they were expected to pass on the gift by giving the first offspring to another person in need. The idea of sharing what you’ve gained is still at the heart of Heifer’s activities although the gift they share now takes many forms.

In Ontario, the Farmers Growing Farmers program pairs experienced farmers with young ones who are just getting started. The established farmers mentor the young farmers, helping them to develop their business plan and start up their operation. Through a Heifer project in Saskatchewan, new farmers share ideas with other members of their community. They hope to establish a cooperative to connect producers to consumer markets.

Food is Medicine
Nutrition-related disease is a disproportionate problem for First Nations people. Heifer Canada has partnered with two communities to establish community gardens where people on social assistance could learn how to grow healthy food and gain employment skills and training. “Food as medicine is a reality,” Gord says. “It was the foundation for the success of these community growing projects.” Training in connection with the gardens also helped some people to move off social assistance, into job training programs and eventually employment.

Full Participation
Rainbow Gardens is a large community garden in Winnipeg where over 65 immigrant and refugee families grow food for sale and personal consumption.

Many of them take advantage of the space to grow crops, such as amaranth, that were part of their diet in their home countries. This has a twofold advantage: the immigrants can enjoy familiar foods, but they are also increasing Canada’s biodiversity and local sustainability.

Heifer provides land and supplies, but, even more importantly, they provide a sense of belonging and community identity. The newcomers make friends and share ideas about adapting to life in Canada. Faur Agboyibar, a refugee from Togo, says: “We eat our supper at the garden and take the bus home around 10 pm. We are tired, we take showers, go to bed and sleep very well; unlike last year at this time of the year where we could not sleep because we felt very hot at home and thinking too much.”

Influencing Policies, Systems & Practices
Heifer tackles problems on a systemic as well as individual basis. Heifer Canada has provided funding and support for the People’s Food Policy Project, a pan-Canadian network of citizens and organizations that has developed Canada’s first food sovereignty project. Resetting the Table: A People’s Food Policy for Canada supports a healthy, fair and ecological food system and covers such topics as access to food in urban communities, sustainable fisheries, and environment and agriculture.

There are no simple solutions, but Heifer firmly believes that sustainable agriculture has the potential to lift low income and food insecure people out of poverty.

“30,000 kids die every day of hunger,” Gord says. “In a world where enough food is produced for all, children dying of hunger is unacceptable. There’s so much that we could do to eliminate hunger. I hope that in our lifetime we’ll be able to impact systems and impact local production so that people can feed themselves – both in Canada and around the world.”

Photo Credit: Heifer International Canada

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Telling Our Story - Communications Workshop

Telling Our Story: Helping Non-Profit Organizations to Get Their Message Across 
Penny McKinlay, Communications Consultant 
9 am – 3 pm, Wednesday, November 28, 2012 
Room 403, Galleria Building, Innovation Place, Saskatoon 

Advocacy organizations want to touch the hearts and change the behaviours of their public. That’s not easy, but effective communications can help you to get your message across.

I am offering Telling Our Story, a hands-on, interactive workshop, to assist the staff and volunteers of advocacy organizations to share their message. Small group discussions and activities will help you learn new skills and integrate them into your professional life.

The workshop is based on my study and practise of storytelling, effective writing, content design, and change management. Similar workshops for the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents of Saskatchewan (LEADS) have been very well received.

“The workshop was amazing. It surpassed my expectations. We shared, we laughed, we learned from each other and from our excellent presenter. Penny pulled us together and facilitated the networking masterfully.” Vince Hill, Credenda (LEADS 2011) 

Workshop Schedule 
1. Storytelling: Delight your readers with heroes, action, and emotion 
“The structure and significance of stories transforms information from static and flat to dynamic and alive.”

Purpose: Every organization has a story to tell. Far too often, we bury it in technical language and jargon.

Hands-on Activity: Storyboarding: turn your report into a story.

2. Elegant Simplicity: Bridging the gap between the writer and the reader 
"Effective writing is simple and elegant. It invites readers to enter, to follow the story, to explore the ideas."

Purpose: Learn how to start a conversation, eliminate clutter, and highlight the important information.

Hands-on Activity: Identify and provide examples of effective communications.

3. Wading into Complexity: Who are we, and what is our message? 
“Products that are remarkable get talked about.”

Purpose: How we frame the question and how people view us has a major impact on our effectiveness.

Hands-on Activity: Find a beautiful solution for one of your gnarliest problems.

4. Switch: How to change things when change is hard
"Logic, emotions, environment: three paths to change" 

Purpose: Pick up some concrete, practical tips for changing behaviours and practices.

Hands-on Activity: Identify communications practices that you want to start/stop/continue and figure out how.

Workshop Fees
$125 (includes morning snack, lunch, and a resource booklet)

Payable to: Penny McKinlay, 106 – 1223 7th Avenue North, Saskatoon, SK S7K 2W1     306.978.2939

Let me know if you have any particular dietary requirements.

Maximum participants: 25     Register by November 20, 2012

Telling Our Story is sponsored by EcoFriendly Sask as part of its mission to inform, support, and encourage environmental initiatives in Saskatchewan.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Flavourful Saskatoon, November 12, 2012

Souleio Christmas Open House, Nov. 22
Souleio is holding a pre-Christmas open house on November 22 from 5-8 pm. There will be samples, complimentary canapés, demos and gift wrapping. They promise to have plenty of holiday candies, chocolates and gift ideas.

Gluten-Free Food Fair, Nov. 25
The menu for the Gluten-Free Food Fair from 5-7 pm on November 25 at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market looks delicious – everything from lentil-stuffed mushrooms to quinoa and roasted beet salad, spicy polenta bites, chocolate bean cake and pina colada cream pie. Sample plates are $2 each. Gluten-free beer or wine will be available for $5.

Simon’s Sticky Toffee Pudding Christmas, Nov. 29
Chef Simon Reynolds will be hosting an open house from 3-8 pm on November 29. You can taste or purchase his sticky toffee puddings. Summer jams, hot pepper jelly, mango chutney and gift certificates for cooking classes will also be available for purchase.

Wild Serendipity Foods
Wild Serendipity Foods has a new product – buttermilk pancake mix. Michelle also sells a scone mix, Saskatchewan sea salts and flavoured mustards and chutney.

Prairie Harvest Café
Prairie Harvest Café is again selling ready-made meals from their restaurant. The weekly offerings will be posted on Facebook. I'm eagerly hoping for some of Mike's wonderful vegetarian options.

Saskatoon Farmers’ Market
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market now has free wifi.

Recycle your Coffee
If you’ve ever wondered what to do with leftover coffee grounds, here’s your answer. Coffee grounds work well for fertilizing plants, keeping fleas off your dog, cleaning drains and so much more.

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post regular profiles of culinary entrepreneurs, new restaurants and new food products.

Follow me on Twitter, like the Wanderlust Facebook page or subscribe to Wanderlust and Words by email (top right-hand corner) to stay on top of Saskatoon’s evolving food culture.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Baja Blooms

On a very snowy Saskatchewan day, it's been such a pleasure to review my Baja flower photographs. Enjoy!