Welcome to Local Flavour! Saanich is a great place to call home, and our local food and farms are a big part of what makes this place so special. The Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (www.crfair.ca) is an organization working to connect you to news about your local food system. This column, Local Flavour, will be run on a biweekly basis to touch on current issues and happenings to celebrate and promote good food in the region.
What, you may ask, is “good food”? We define good food as “good for the planet, good for the producer, and good for the health and well-being of all.” Someone we want to introduce you to who really believes in good food is Jelena Putnik. She not only makes a mean berry pie, but is the Flavour Trails co-ordinator. Flavour Trails is a program of seasonal food and farm celebrations and events, and it kicks off this weekend, July 9-10, with the Peninsula Wine Fest and Strawberries & Wine Tour.
The weekend will be an exquisite mash-up celebrating the sweetness of our local strawberries with the divine, award-winning wines, ciders and spirits of the region. Explore the Strawberries and Wine Tour of vineries/cideries/distilleries, restaurants, and farms by bike or car, or purchase a ticket (limited availability) to the all-inclusive Peninsula Wine Fest on the historic grounds of St. Stephen’s Church in Saanichton.
So why celebrate the local strawberry? “A couple of days ago”, says Jelena, “I heard someone in the grocery store say, ‘What’s the difference? These California strawberries are cheaper’.”
What? What’s the difference?
There is a lot to think about when it comes to local says Jelena. According to B.C. Berry Industry specialist Mark Sweeney, “Many pesticides are used on shipped products to protect against rotting, etc. so fruits and berries that are shipped have higher pesticide levels… The closer you get to the producer, the less pesticide use you’ll encounter.”
B.C. grows about one-quarter of Canada’s strawberry production, reaching about three million kilograms and worth over $6 million annually, according to the B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture.
“It may be you want to support local producers, are concerned about climate change, or want less pesticides, but for me,” says Jelena, “the answer is on the tip of my tongue … because local strawberries taste amazing.”
We all know that exquisite moment when we have our first local strawberry of the season, like you must have never had a strawberry before because it tastes so good. Yes, that’s what has inspired and fueled the creativity of our local vintners and chefs on the Strawberries and Wine Tour. Cocktails, sangria muddles, wine pairings, savoury delicacies and sweet treats. Is there a better way to spend the weekend?
And “taking home” is the key – wines, ciders, spirits and local berries. It’s an investment in flavour, goodness and value. Local farms are identified on the Strawberries and Wine brochure so you can fill up and enjoy all year round.
See you on the Flavour Trial!
Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.