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Slow food market shows popularity of eating trend
A busy “slow food” market on the street outside the Watermark Beach Resort on Sunday afternoon showed how popular this eating trend has become.
The second annual Market of Taste led off what was dubbed as an “all-day foodie extravaganza.”
It was followed by a wine garden and a gala Chef and Winemakers’ Dinner.
More than 40 vendors, wineries, chefs and restaurants participated in this event sponsored by Slow Food Thompson Okanagan.
The organization bills itself as having a mission to defend biodiversity in the food supply, spread taste education and connect food producers with co-producers.
The Market of Taste was held on the sidewalk along Main Street in front of the resort’s conference centre. It featured a mix of vendors and producers selling and providing samples of vegetables, herbs, grains, bread products, honey products and meat – most of it said to be organic, pesticide free, heritage varieties, without genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and otherwise a wholesome and healthy alternative to mass-produced and fast food.
“Everyone wants to have a little story behind the food that they’re eating and this provides exactly that,” said Gregory Fuchs, a Keremeos chef and caterer whose business card for Gregor’s Gourmet announces: “It’s not just a meal. It’s a movement.”
Fuchs was selling jars of barbecue sauces, hot sauces, relishes and chutneys, all made from local ingredients, most of them organic and many grown by him personally.
What’s the difference between his foods and those bought at the supermarket?
“The love,” he replies. “A lot of love, a lot of time goes into preparing it. I pretty much take everything from ground zero all the way through production, starting with the seed.”
A few booths over, Jamie Haynes from Rock Creek was showing the heritage grains he grows on his farm.
These include varieties such as red fife, marquis and Thatcher.
“Some of the heritage varieties make better flour than some of the newer ones,” said Haynes, who traces his own heritage back to Osoyoos pioneer John Carmichael Haynes.
“People feel a lot safer health wise by trusting more in the heritage grains and growing naturally,” he said, suggesting some people are concerned that some commercial grains might be affected by genetic modification.
If not for growers such as Haynes, who produce varieties such as red fife, some of these heritage varieties risk disappearing, Haynes said.
“We’re working hard to protect this stuff,” said Haynes, noting that the Conservative federal government has introduced an omnibus agriculture bill C-18 that Haynes believes would “hand grain seed and plants of any kind over to the multinationals.”
Down the street and wearing a cowboy hat was Cheryl Fletcher, general manager of Okanagan’s Finest Angus Beef, a company based near Oliver. She’s letting visitors sample pepperoni made from wine-fed beef.
“Wine-fed beef is exactly that,” said Fletcher. “We have one litre of wine per day per cow in the last 60 days of the growth of the cow.”
The advantage, she said, “is the best-tasting beef you’ll ever find.”
This affects the marbling and fat in the beef making it tender, juicy and flavourful, she said.
Before you jump to the conclusion that Fletcher is serving her cows $40 bottles, she is quick to add that wineries sometimes make batches that don’t meet human standards, so this is mixed with cattle feed, grape crush, greens and fruits.
“Think of all the antioxidants from those grapes going into their feed,” she says.
Nor do the cattle stagger around tipsy or drunk after consuming their daily litre of wine.
“I guess their litre of wine is equivalent to us having a little half glass,” Fletcher said. “It’s not going to do a lot, but I tell you they are relaxed. You go up to the feedlot and you don’t catch them all mooing and whining and complaining. But that has a lot to do with how we care for them.”
The popularity of events such as the Market of Taste suggests that many people care about the quality and safety of their food and are willing to pay more for locally grown and raised alternatives not found on the supermarket shelves.
Some of it is driven by a desire for a quality taste experience and some of it by a fear of the direction the commercial agri-food industry is taking with innovations such as pesticides and genetic modification.
“There’s a lot of crazy things going on with our food now and you never know what you’re getting,” said Fuchs, the Keremeos chef. “You can’t trust the people that are providing it for you.”