Garden To Table In Action
This week Cristina has been processing hazelnuts, many, many hazelnuts picked from the big tree in the yard. The nuts need to be husked and dried in front of the woodstove, then shelled by hand, which the whole family helps with, grabbing a quick handful to crack whenever they walk past the fire. Bags and baskets of the fall harvest fill the little kitchen on Quadra, nestled next to freshly canned plum sauce. Little bowls of nuts, handfuls of cinnamon pear fruit leather and glasses of hand pressed apple cider keep popping up all over the house, as the kids enjoy the harvest without a second thought. They feel so lucky to have food from the earth they play on and help tend to all summer.
This isn’t the norm in our modern world
These days you can eat food from four different continents in one meal. I remember buying a sachet of vanilla bean pods in the store whose packaging proudly declared it ‘product of seven countries.’ But what does the globalisation of food mean for our relationship with what we eat?
It’s becoming pretty fashionable to ask that question. Vancouverites Alisa Smith and J. B. MacKinnon’s popular book The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating documents one family’s attempt to eat food sourced within 100 miles of their Kitsilano home. Their efforts drew the attention of many other localvores; people who aspire to only eat local food. You’re only a quick google away from a bustling worldwide community eschewing bananas flown in from Costa Rica in favour of apples picked in their backyard, blogging from the USA to New Zealand and countless hip urban centres in between.
This community argues that there are many reasons to put in the extra effort to eat locally. With minimal distance from soil to plate, the environmental impact of transporting your meal is significantly reduced. Supporting local farms and growers is better for the local economy, boosting jobs and income in your community. I’d argue that there’s a personal benefit to eating locally too; when there is a personal connection to the food you’re eating, you really appreciate it.
“Are you a locavore? Locavores are people who try to choose locally grown or locally produced food that is in season.” McGill University, The benefits of eating local foods
Cristina’s custard raspberry rhubarb tart will always be my favourite dessert, but knowing that she kept those berries safe from nibbling deer, picked them that day, and carried them back to the kitchen from our hilltop garden makes it all the sweeter. Eating your seasonal harvest connects you to the land in a way that store bought food never can. You know what’s growing and get excited for what’s in season. Knowing this makes eating grilled garden zucchini for a few weeks a delicacy before the harvest turns to squash and pumpkin.
Gardening Back To Our Roots
The garden to table idea is having a moment right now, but it has been at the centre of life on Maurelle Island for decades. In fact, the garden our berries, salads, and zucchini come from is the same patch of sunny hilltop that Brody’s parents were feeding him from as a kid. They came out here in the seventies as part of the Back to the Land movement, which brought many settlers out to Maurelle. They sought a different path from what they had found in cities, sustaining themselves from the land instead of buying food from stores. This homesteading tradition prevails out here in the Discovery Islands; everyone is canning, dehydrating, fermenting and freezing produce at the moment, in a rush to preserve the fall harvest before winter settles in. It’s a real honour, and one of the perks of working for Go With The Flow Adventures, to introduce this garden to table lifestyle to our guests. In the brief time they are with us, they get to really experience Maurelle Island as they eat side spot prawns caught a few hundred meters from their cabins, and stroll up to the garden to pick salad leaves for dinner. They’re only with us for a week, but eating locally here means our guests can plant their own roots on this beautiful island, recognising and becoming part of our seasonal cycle of food.
And so Cristina is processing hazelnuts, picked in the garden on Quadra, to be part of her homemade Hazelnut Almond Granola Recipe, ready for another summer of delicious breakfasts for our guests.