Lucky Dip – Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Why are bartenders waging war on vodka? Because it’s for people who can’t handle the taste of real, better spirits. And if that makes me a booze snob, then I’m okay with that. [Globe and Mail]

Are you so obsessed with food that you need to think about it while playing board games? Have at it, kids – board games for foodies. [Bon Appetit]

The Boston molasses disaster? You never learn about the cool stuff in history class, do you? [ Food & Think]

“Virgin rape oil” – is not actually a bad thing, it’s just a really lovely type of organic canola (once known as rapeseed). [Globe and Mail]

You know what the sad thing about the “maggot melt” is? It’s probably made with some crap plastic cheese instead of a nice stinky raw cheese that is supposed to have maggots in it. (Also, those really look a lot more like mealworms than any maggots I’ve ever seen.) [CNN: Eatocracy]

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So… MacLean’s magazine reported last week that the Hamilton Farmer’s Market had plans to oust a number of long-time vendors because they didn’t fit the market’s new image of upscale, focusing on “local” ingredients grown within a 100-mile radius. Regular readers of this site will know just how much utter bullshit I believe the 100-mile diet to be. It’s elitist in its time demands (only people with a lot of money and enough free time to source local ingredients are able to eat this way); it makes huge assumptions about food miles, something that is almost impossible to calculate accurately; and it creates what is essentially a two-tier food system, with those of us with free time and free money being able to congratulate ourselves on helping the poor, downtrodden local farmer, while those with no time and little money having to shop at the oh-so-frowned-upon supermarket.

Andrew Potter, the author of the piece, makes allegations not only of elitism but of xenophobia. This undoubtedly will get people’s hackles up. But in the case of Hamilton, the majority of the long-time vendors given the boot were not white, but Vietnamese, Colombian and Middle Eastern. And when you think of “local” food, when it is featured on menus or touted in magazines or books… it’s pretty much old skool white people food. Sorry, immigrants, you don’t fit our elitist ideal.

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Why Local Needs to Go Mass Market

I bought asparagus at the supermarket today.

I know. Step aside so the vigilante hordes of locavores can get past in order to more easily place my head on a pike.

It *was* local if that makes any difference.

I know. I should still be supporting the farmers at farmers’ markets. More of the money goes directly to the farmers than if I buy local produce at Price Chopper.

But you know what? This maybe needs to stop. See, when the produce manager pulled that bunch of asparagus out of the box, he had a little gleam in his eye. He knew it was good stuff. Perfectly-sized, tight heads, bright green… We looked down at the asparagus, then back up at each other. “Heh?” he said, smiling. “Gimme it,” was my reply.

Here’s my theory on this… yes, more money goes directly to the farmer if we buy our produce directly from the farmer. But despite the fact that Toronto’s got farmers’ markets every day of the week, and piles of CSAs,they’re not always convenient to get to. Those of us “in the bubble” make the effort to get there. But we’re the minority. Everyone else is all about the one-stop-shopping. So if we want more people to eat locally-grown food, we have to accept that some of them are going to do it at the supermarket.

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F*ck You, I Won’t Do What You Tell Me

Okay, so I put the asterisks in there to make the title work safe. Because this is not about Rage Against the Machine lyrics, but a not-especially surprising trend amongst food shoppers who are just tired of the whole local, sustainable thing.

In a piece from the Canwest News Service in the Vancouver Sun titled Consumers Fed Up With Food Politics, people are revealing that they’re overwhelmed by the expectation that they’ll research every single morsel they put into their mouths.

The proselytizing extends to almost every aisle of the modern grocery store, leaving few choices safe from the critical gaze of a food evangelist. As a result, experts fear the pleasure is being sucked from one of life’s most pleasurable activities.

“We have food police here,” says Mary Bailey, a bestselling Canadian food author. “We’re caught up in this pattern where every time we turn around, something else is ‘bad.’ “


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And I Would Eat 100 Miles, and I Would Eat 100 More…

Spent the morning at our local taking part in a 100-mile brunch hosted by the MPP for the riding, Peggy Nash. I’m still not sure why Ms. Nash decided to put together such an event (we’ve got a Provincial election coming up, not a Federal one), but as the $25 price went to FoodShare, and as it was a 5-minute walk from home, we figured why not.

The event went off okay, but it wasn’t perfect. Food-wise, it appears that the primary food produced within a 100-mile radius is pork. Pretty much every part of the pig was accounted for, to the detriment of the vegetarians in the room. Vegans were completely SOL unless they stuck to the fruit plate. I loaded up on salad, cheese panini and a slice of Spanish potato omelet. While all the food was good, and was created by area chefs, the overall menu lacked cohesiveness. It felt like a potluck where no one consulted anyone else on what they were bringing.

Technical issues kept the coffee lukewarm for the first while and when I mentioned aloud that there was cream and milk but no sugar, some woman wagged a finger at me. “Sugar is not grown within 100 miles.” She came really close to wearing a cup of non-local coffee.

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