Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vote with your Dollars

It’s so easy to rush around the grocery store buying whatever is biggest and shiniest and most appealing without even thinking about what we’re buying or where it came from. But when we do that, we’re handing over control to the large multinationals who stock the supermarket shelves. It’s hard to avoid. We’re short on time, and the large corporations spend millions of dollars ensuring that their products are attractive to consumers, whitewashing any disagreeable aspects of their products, such as toxic pesticides or child labour.

The fair trade movement is driven by grassroots activists who believe that individuals can make a difference. Every time we make a conscious decision to buy food that is local or organic or that provides farmers with a living wage, we are voting with our dollars. And slowly, purchase by purchase, we can change the world.

Origins of Fair Trade 
In 1946, Edna Ruth Byler was struck by the poverty she witnessed on a trip to Puerto Rico. She started selling handcrafted products from developing countries out of the trunk of her car in order to create economic opportunities for local artisans. The support of church groups and the Mennonite Central Committee led to the foundation of Ten Thousand Villages (originally called SELFHELP: Crafts of the World) and to sales of $20 million in 2006.

Starting with handicrafts, fair trade moved on to cover the production and sale of coffee, sugar, tea, chocolate and more.

What is Fair Trade?
Fairtrade Canada defines fair trade as “a different way of doing business. It’s about making principles of fairness and decency mean something in the marketplace.” Fairtrade Canada is an independent body that sets the standards for Fair Trade products and verifies that the producers meet these standards.

The Fairtrade logo guarantees that the farmers receive a fair price for the products. In addition, the Fair Trade producer organizations receive a premium, which goes into a communal fund to improve the workers’ social, economic and environmental conditions. Fair Trade producers also have access to credit and long-term relationships.

Fair Trade also includes ethical working conditions for hired labour in line with ILO Conventions mandating freedom from discrimination, freedom of labour (child or forced labour), freedom of association and collective bargaining, conditions of employment, and occupational health and safety.

Fair Trade producers strive to protect the environment in which they work and live. This includes limiting the use of fertilizers and pesticides, composting, crop rotation, maintaining soil fertility, managing water resources, avoiding the use of GMOs, etc.

Fair Trade International
Fair Trade is a grassroots initiative. As a result, there is more than one organization providing its seal of approval for the products we buy in Canada and the developed world. It pays to read the fine print in order to have a clearer understanding of the goals of each organization. For example, the Rainforest Alliance was set up to “use the power of markets to arrest the major drivers of deforestation and environmental destruction.” They place less emphasis on ensuring fair working conditions for the farmers and labourers.

One of the largest Fair Trade organizations is Fairtrade International. Fairtrade Canada is a founding member of Fairtrade International, which brings together over 20 national Labelling Initiatives (verifying and providing their logo to products that go on sale in their countries) as well as three Producer Networks representing Fairtrade certified producer organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

Fair Trade Towns and Fair Trade Campuses expand Fair Trade’s scope and power beyond the individual consumer. Volunteers in cities such as Vancouver and Canmore have promoted fair trade on a city-wide level by working with the private sector to increase availability of Fair Trade products in stores and restaurants; lobbying the municipality to stipulate the use of Fair Trade coffee, tea, sugar and chocolate in their procurement policies; and hosting public awareness events and advertising campaigns.

In a similar fashion, Fair Trade Campuses promote the availability and visibility of Fair Trade products on their campus. The University of British Columbia became the first Canadian Fair Trade Campus in 2011, and the local chapter of Engineers Without Borders is promoting Fair Trade on the University of Saskatchewan campus. (Engineers Without Borders is a strong promoter of Fair Trade.)

Canadian Fair Trade Network 
The Canadian Fair Trade Network (CFTN) got off the ground less than two years ago in an effort to bring together the different groups that promote Fair Trade in Canada.

They have a working team of 7-8 people in Vancouver as well as an eight-person national board of directors. Nancy Allan of Saskatoon is the board’s Vice President. She has been actively promoting Fair Trade since the 1980s and is a founding member of the North Saskatchewan Fair Trade Alliance.

I spoke with Sean McHugh, the Network’s Executive Director, who worked in Kenya for a number of years and was instrumental in establishing Fair Trade Vancouver. Sean explained that the CFTN has three primary goals:
  1. To open up communications channels linking Fair Trade activists (for example, all the Fair Trade campuses) across Canada.
  2. To establish common strategies and tools to assist local grassroots groups. For example, they recently produced a Fair Trade Campus Action Guide to help local campus initiatives get off the ground. They have produced a 24-page colour magazine to explain what Fair Trade is and how it works, which is being distributed both electronically and in print through Ten Thousand Villages and other partners. 
  3. To establish a united, national voice in order to conduct stronger advocacy with national food service companies and larger public institutions. 
 The next time you are grocery shopping, look for the Fairtrade logo. And spend your dollars wisely to support the principles that you believe in.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, January 28, 2013

Lunch at Earth Bound Bakery
I had lunch at Earth Bound Bakery this past week, and it was excellent – as always!

In addition to soup and sandwiches, they’re now offering two salads: a green salad with avocado and preserved lemon and a quinoa salad with the tiniest slivers of fennel and a hint of lemon.

Pain au chocolat makes an excellent dessert, but they also offer some lovely coffeecake slices (sour cherry, cardamom, etc.).

Nellie’s Kitchen
Nellie’s Kitchen, in the strip mall on the corner of Avenue H and 22nd Street, is under new ownership and has been renovated. Riversdale District staff ate there and enjoyed the new food and great service.

Crock-Off, Feb. 2
This year’s Crock-Off includes community organizations competing to make the best crock pot dish, a guided hike of Ancient Spirals, yoga and musical entertainment. Tickets are $26 on Picatic.

Fake Ingredients
A non-profit group has looked into food fraud and found many counterfeit products. One of the worst offenders is pomegranate juice, which is often diluted with grape or pear juice. Other foods that are easy to tamper by adding cheaper ingredients are olive oil, lemon juice, tea and spices. So, if you think you’re getting a bargain, you may actually be getting ripped off.

Top Baking Trends for 2013
The BBC’s Good Food blog predicts that the top baking trends of 2013 will include peek-a-boo cakes, homemade marshmallows, éclairs and doughnuts. When will we see these in Saskatoon?

Passionate about Cheese
If you love cheese and enjoying playing with words, you should definitely take a look at the amazing cheese descriptions that readers submitted to the New York Times.

Here’s the winner: "Limburger: Like a hedge fund guy at the bar who thinks he’s God’s gift to Wall Street and women, this handsome cheese comes on strong. He’s breathy, loud and expensive. He’s from Germany, or Belgium, or some other country he name-dropped. And yet . . . he’s irresistible, and you bring him home even though you’ve been with his type before: semi-soft, smells like socks."

It would be great if Saskatoon had an incubator for fledgling food and drink entrepreneurs. Kitchen, Inc. in Houston provides entrepreneurs with affordable commercial kitchen space as well as a café to sell their wares.

They’ve recently expanded to provide aspiring brewers with access to professional brewing equipment and a tap room with access to food. The incubator has used Kickstarter to get off the ground and expand.

If you’re already dreaming about gardening, here are two articles you may enjoy:

SPIN Farming in Uganda: Getting Started

How to Build a Garden in a Hurry

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, January 21, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, January 21, 2013

Bodega Melipal, Jan. 26
Clarisa Aristi, owner of Bodega Melipal, will be at Ingredients Artisan Market from 12 to 4 on Saturday, January 26. Drop by and sample the Ikella and Melipal wines.

Root Down Caters
Root Down Workers’ Cooperative will now cater everything from breakfast meetings and office lunches to parties and evening events. What a joy – catering that is vegetarian/vegan, local and creative.

Paddock Wood is Hiring
If you’re interested in brewing, drop off a resume at Paddock Wood Brewery. You’ll start out cleaning and packaging, move on to shipping and eventually brewing.

Seabuckthorn Spice
Michelle Zimmer of Wild Serendipity Foods has introduced a new flavour of scones – Seabuckthorn Spice (I loved the spicey flavour, would have liked more fruit). Michelle is at the Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the moment, so head on over and check it out.

Truffles Bistro
I hear that Truffles Bistro will soon have a new menu – and they will be serving Herschel Hills cheese. In addition, their website says that Truffles is “making every effort to support a greener world by recycling, using enviro- friendly detergents, cleaning supplies and local products to cut back on fuel emissions.”

 No denying it – I have a sweet tooth. Here’s some of this week’s sweet treats.

Dad’s Organic Market is selling Torie & Howard organic hard candy in various fruit flavours. My pink grapefruit candies are coloured with red cabbage, purple carrots and annatto (seeds from the tropical achiote tree). The tins are made out of recycled steel, and I’m reusing mine to store tea. And there’s no corn syrup, no gluten and no GMOs.

The Better Good has a large selection of Taza chocolate. Taza chocolate is stoneground and only lightly roasted, so it has a fruity flavour that I love. Check out the Salt and Pepper for its mix of sweet, salty and spicy. I bought Salted Almond and it is so good - definitely my favourite flavour.

I purchased the last of the Eagle Hill Foods' chocolates at the Little Market Store, but they plan to order more. I love the juicy fruit centre.

Two by D, Prince Albert
Kevin Dahlsjo and his cooking class at SIAST in Prince Albert invite you to join them for breakfast between 8 and 10:30, Monday to Friday, lunch between 11:30 and 1, Monday to Thursday or a theme buffet on Fridays from 11:30 to 12:45.

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, January 14, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, January 14, 2013

Open Cook’s Society Intro Meeting, Jan. 14
Do you work with food? Are you a foodie? Join the Open Cook Society's Intro Meeting from 6-9 pm on Monday, January 14, at CHEP. The Open Cook Society's mission is to provide open forum for cooks to network, express interest in food and participate in community support.

One of the organizers is Lindsay Adams who I profiled on Wanderlust and Words a couple of years ago.

3-Course Dinner, Jan. 25
Souleio is hosting a three-course dinner paired with wine on January 25 from 6-9 pm. I’m really excited to see vegetarian options for both appetizer and entrée. Gillian Snider will provide a musical accompaniment. Phone 979-8102 to make a reservation.

Slow Money Webinar, Jan. 29
Find out more about the Ayers Brook Goat Dairy Agricultural Investment Model, designed to strengthen the local food economy, create economic opportunity and conserve land with responsible management, in the January 29 Slow Money Webinar.

Saskatchewan Food Summit, Feb. 27-28
The second Saskatchewan Food Summit will be held in Saskatoon on February 27 and 28. Topics will include: Policy and the Food System, Global Perspective on Food Security, Health and Food Safety, Aboriginal People and Local Food Production, and Land Use Planning. Additional information is available online.

Slow Food Canada National Meeting, Apr. 25-28
The Slow Food Canada National Meeting will be held in the Okanagan from April 25-28. In addition to the business meetings, there will be food and wine tastings and gala dinners. Slow Food Saskatoon hopes to send a representative, but non-delegates are also welcome.

SPIN Farming Illustrated
Check out the latest SPIN Farming publication from Wally Satzewich and Roxanne Christensen – SPIN Farming Illustrated.

Food Tank
Ellen Gustafson and Danielle Nierenberg, American food and agriculture experts have launched Food Tank to provide a science-based resource on food and agriculture issues. They say it will be a “bold new voice in the fight for health-based agriculture, alleviating hunger and poverty, stemming the tide of obesity, and improving nutrition and environmental sustainability.

In Organic We Trust 
I’d be interested in viewing In Organic We Trust, a newly-released documentary that looks beyond organic to the food system as a whole: “78% of Americans eat organic food because it’s healthier. But is organic really better for us or just a marketing scam? When corporations went into the business and “organic” became a brand, everything changed. The philosophy and the label grew apart. Can gummy bears or bananas flown halfway across the world truly be organic? … Local farmer’s markets, school gardens, and urban farms are revolutionizing the way we eat. Change is happening from the soil up.”

Name Your Nuts/Linda Marie’s Gourmet Toffee
I can’t resist the samples from Name Your Nuts and Linda Marie’s Gourmet Toffee at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. You know the product is fresh when you see them making it on the spot.

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, January 10, 2013

Good Spirit Bakery Changes Hands

Tracy Street Is Making It Her Own 
Tracy Street hadn’t eaten bread for years, but whenever she came home to visit her family in Saskatoon, she would eat the lentil rolls her parents had purchased from Good Spirit Bakery at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. She tried another couple of their items and really enjoyed them as well.

When Tracy heard that Peyton Leavitt and Jonathan Lee wanted to sell Good Spirit Bakery, she put in an offer, and it was accepted.

Bread is Temperamental 
Tracy loved to cook and she had owned catering companies in Ontario, but baking was something new. “Baking is such a science with very exact measurements,” Tracy explains. “It takes a great deal of patience. That’s why it didn’t appeal to me when I was young.”

Tracy and her fellow baker, Linda Boldt, trained with Peyton at the Watson Bakery three days a week for six weeks. “We learned how to bake exactly how Peyton baked,” Tracy says. “She set us up with her poolish, which she had started 10 years ago when Good Spirit first opened.”

It was a huge learning curve, Tracy says, and once she moved into her own bakery in Saskatoon, there was another learning curve as she had to bring her knowledge to a different environment with a different humidity.

One of the toughest items to master was the lentil rolls, but Tracy refused to give up as they were her staple. “I had sleepless nights thinking about how to work it out,” Tracy says. Finally, one of her customers suggested adding extra humidity – and that did the trick.

Something Old – and Something New
Tracy has set up her own bakery in Saskatoon. It’s an old warehouse that her partner, Scott Thoen, renovated. “It’s beautiful,” Tracy says, “with big, big windows and an old brick wall that we cleaned but left unfinished. Jonathan said it looked just like a New York bakery.”

Tracy purchased the exact-same oven that Peyton used in the Watson bakery. It’s a British, four-tiered oven with steam injection, and the bread is baked on a clay stone.

Tracy is also continuing to purchase wheat, lentils and grains from Northern Leichts Farm near Spalding, which is one of the largest organic farms in Saskatchewan. “It was the only way to keep the product the same,” Tracy says. “A different supplier would make such a difference.”

Peyton had a huge repertoire of breads, and Tracy is continuing to make 35 of them. She makes different varieties each week, with more options in the summer when the Market is busier.

Tracy is also adding some of her own touches in order to make the business her own. Linda Boldt made fantastic whole-grain raspberry scones, so Tracy purchased the recipe. She’s also making the barley sourdough much more frequently as barley is one of her favorite grains. And she’ll be adding in more baked goods and treats.

Good Spirit Bakery is now a nut-free facility, which has brought in a new wave of customers.

Expanding the Business
“I’m really open to commercial accounts,” Tracy explains. “We only bake three days a week for the Farmers’ Market, but we have a building devoted to baking.”

Tracy is already selling her bread to Flint, and Broadway Roastery has taken on Good Spirit’s baked goods. “The Roastery has asked us to make butter tarts,” Tracy says. “Once we’ve settled on our recipe, we’ll start selling them at the Farmers’ Market as well.”

Tracy is also interested in catering bread and treats for company parties.

It’s not easy to take over an existing business and make it your own. Tracy Street seems to be succeeding at balancing the old with the new. I wish her well.

See also:
Good Spirit Bakery 2010
Good Spirit Bakery and Café, Watson, 2011

Monday, January 7, 2013

Flavourful Saskatoon, January 7, 2013

Computers = Cheese
Are you a computer whiz? Do you love cheese? Then, you should contact Sharon McDaniel at Herschel Hills Artisan Cheese House. She makes awesome cheese but could do with some technical help setting up her computer programs.

Are you a Lucky Bastard?
LB Distillers is hiring someone to cover their retail store front and lend a hand with a multitude of other tasks. If you’re interested, send your résumé to

Rainbow Carrot Gratin
Here’s a great recipe to showcase the rainbow-coloured carrots from Wally’s Urban Market Garden.

Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is believed to originate in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. In its early days, it was only available to the nobility and was believed to be a miracle cure for everything from a sore throat to labour pains (hence the name - “balm”).

Balsamic vinegar is an aged reduction of unfermented grapes. Authentic balsamic vinegar is only made by members of two consortiums in Modena, Italy, where it is aged in a series of progressively smaller wooden casks. Every year it reduces in volume through evaporation. (The Nibble has a long, informative article.)

Wineries sometimes produce balsamic vinegar as an offshoot of their main operation. My family really likes Rozendal Vinegar from South Africa. Rozendal is a biodynamic winery. Their vinegars are made from a Bordeaux blend of Merlot and Cabernet grapes and are naturally fermented in small oak barrels for 12 years. They are infused with organic herbs, including hibiscus, lavender, green tea and fynbos.

Rozendal Vinegar is available at Ingredients Artisan Market and directly from Fine Wines Saskatchewan.

Fixing the Food System: 13 Resolutions for 2013
Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson offer 13 resolutions for improving the way we grow, distribute, prepare and consume the food we eat: Urban Farming, Better Access, Eat What You Recognize, More Home Cooking, Share a Meal, Eat Your Vegetables, Stop the Waste, Engage Young People, Protect Workers, Farmers Are Important, Government Policies, Change the Metrics, and Fix the Broken Food System.

Gustafson and Nierenberg are co-founders of the Food Think Tank, which hopes to be a powerful voice in the battle to end hunger and obesity and improve nutrition.

Bread: The Staff of Life
I love good bread – chewy, flavourful, aromatic bread – so I’m delighted to learn that there is a gourmet bread renaissance.

Here's a list of the best new bakeries in America, high-end bread pairings, and seven dips & exotic breads.

They forgot to mention Earth Bound Bakery on 8th Street - not to worry, we'll keep that tasty secret for ourselves!

How to Become a Great Food Writer
Timothy Ferriss offers a column by Jeannette Ferrary on how to be a great food writer, including a list of books and resources.

From Waste to Opportunity
Entrepreneurs are turning food waste into economic opportunity – from jams and chutneys from surplus fruit to mushroom-growing kits using discarded coffee grounds.

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.