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Big Changes at The Mindful Table

San Francisco

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. Months actually. But I wasn’t quite sure what all the implications are, I still don’t, but I can’t put off this announcement any longer. This is going to be an organic process.

Back in January, I had started to explore an opportunity to move to San Francisco. Yes, San Francisco: The cradle of  the sustainable food food movement and one of my favorite cities anywhere. I took it.

I moved in March, with the idea that I’d give myself six months to decide whether to stay or return to Montreal. I’ve decided. I’m staying. I’ve fallen in love with the city. I also have to keep pinching myself. I can’t believe I’m actually living here!

I don’t know exactly what this means for The Mindful Table. Obviously, the blog will no longer focus on sustainable food in Montreal and Quebec, although I know that will still be a part of it. I may have fallen in love with San Francisco, but I’m still also in love with Montreal. Both cities are so similar in many ways… and also so different.

After more than a six-month hiatus from writing on this blog, I’m itching to return. I want to write about the food scene here, but also the social issues of food security in San Francisco. I feel I can’t touch on that without touching on social justice.  I’m enjoying the diversity of food and commitment to sustainable ingredients by many restaurants in  the area, but am also very aware that the foodie trend in the city has it’s toll on many of  the smaller Mom-and-Pop businesses that have been around for a long, long time. Especially in a city where skyrocketing rents and ways of doing business can force a storefront out of business so easily.

As I write this, a taqueria that has been a city mainstay is in danger of being evicted in favor of a higher rent-paying tenant, my favorite local pub (well, dive-bar actually) is in a similar situation in a neighborhood undergoing rapid gentrification, and a favorite outdoor patio and falafel joint in my neighborhood is closing to make room for condos. (Not to mention the community gardens that closed earlier this year, again in my neighborhood, also to make room for micro-condos.)

I don’t know what the future holds for The Mindful Table, but there is one. I’m hoping you’ll join me on my journey as I discover my new home through the eyes of a (almost) life-long Montrealer.

Photo credit: me! (Isn’t it a great shot?)

Posted in News, Various.

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Heirloom Tomatoes, Organic Fish, Happy Hens, and Veg*n Holiday Recipes: Link Roundup

My mostly weekly round-up of interesting articles that relate to sustainable food and dining for those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter, where I often post articles and recipes during the day as I come across them.

heirloomtomatoes2

Local Specialty Tomatoes – in November!
I love Lufa Farms and their unique rooftop greenhouses in Montreal–the first of their kind anywhere in the world. And now that they’ve started growing heirloom tomatoes in their CSA baskets. Lufa Farms operates like a CSA with weekly “baskets” of fresh produce for individual or families at over 200 drop-off points around the greater Montreal area. As a member you can also go online and add other local, mostly organic, products to your basket from partners like Maniadakis Organic Orchard, Morille Quebec, and even La Bête à Pain. Winters in this city just got tastier.

Can A Fish Farm Be Organic? That’s Up For Debate
The organic label on aquaculture is a slippery one. I’ve written before about the trouble with Canada’s proposed organic aquaculture standards. The troubles are the same south of the border. One of the biggest concerns is that they still allow open-net ocean pens, which damage the environment and don’t contain disease. This is proof again that organic does not necessarily mean environmentally-friendly or even sustainable.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipe Collection
This is a great selection of vegetarian recipes suitable for a special event from the New York Times. No matter the feast that you’re cooking, there is probably something here for you. And if you’re a carnivore you may not even miss the meat with some of the culinary concoctions. Personally, I’ve starred the Seitan Roulade With Oyster Mushroom Stuffing, Saffron Ravioli With Wild Mushrooms and Cashew Cheese, and Pumpkin Tiramisu for my table over the holidays.

NYT-recipes

Mon Marché Local
I love seeing local initiatives aligned with my own values. Mon Marché Local is one of them. This is a nice interview with Margaux Murray, one of the founders of the blog and community of local producers, artisans, and folks interested in buying local. Sign-up for their newsletter to find out which farmers’ markets in the Montreal area are open, when, and where.

Happy Hens: Caged Versus Free-Run
Are hens allowed to run free really happier than caged hens? Even the larger cages in the European Union that have been introduced to replace the controversial battery cages? Not all free-range facilities are created equal, although at least in the EU it looks like “free range” has a legal definition, unlike here in Canada.

Did you come across some interesting food-related news stories recently? Or do you have thoughts on any of these stories? Let us know in the comments below. 

Posted in Recipes, Various.

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Quebec Farmers Highlighted at Montreal International Documentary Film Festival

RIDM

More things to do this weekend! In case you missed it the Montreal International Documentary Film Festival is taking place until Sunday November 24th. In it are two documentaries highlighting Quebec farmers. Both look really interesting and are playing over the weekend.

Le Semeur (World Premiere)
Friday November 22, 20h30
He likes beets, especially hardy varieties that can stand up to a strong wind. He admires independence in a plant. He looks over his carrots with the same patience and meticulousness as he harvests seeds from his squash. Sometimes, he dreams about a certain cherry tree whose genetic legacy he wants to preserve and spread. Not to mention his pride in his Polish rutabagas. Patrice Fortier isn’t crazy, he’s just seriously passionate about his work. Living on his company farm, Société des plantes, in the Kamouraska Valley, he is preserving and propagating rare and forgotten seeds in order to restore vitality and variety to our agricultural heritage. Directed by Julie Perron with uncommon elegance and assurance, Le semeur gives us a fascinating taste of Fortier’s intensely lived days.

Fermieres (World Premiere)
Sunday November 24, 16h30
They aren’t the same age, they don’t live in the same towns and they don’t even do the same things. But their eyes shine with the same vitality, determination and enthusiasm. Thérèse the artisan, Francine the perfectionist, Anne-Marie the ethnographer, Yolande the company president and so many more: all are volunteer members of a farm women’s group, the Cercles de Fermières du Québec. The clubs were founded in 1915 by the provincial agriculture department, and they’re still active in more than 600 municipalities. They were and remain warm, strong places where Quebec’s women can express their identity. Annie St-Pierre takes an affectionate look at a year in the women’s lives, built around a sense of solidarity, sharing, activism, education and joie de vivre.

This one also looks interesting, but sadly has already played. It’s certainly worth looking up though.

No Land. No Food. No Life.
A year after The Carbon Rush, activist filmmaker Amy Miller is back with a hard-hitting documentary about the excesses of globalized agri-business. Filmed in several countries, it exposes the workings and disastrous impacts of the usurpation of land by the industry’s giant corporations. In the perverse logic of forced globalization, local farmers have no choice but to surrender their land to one of the handful of multinationals that control the world’s food reserves. With a foundation of solid research and numerous field interviews among local populations, No Land No Food No Life, narrated by Neve Campbell, updates us on one of the greatest scandals of our time, the root cause of a crisis of rampant malnutrition.

Posted in Canadian Regions, Montreal, Quebec.

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A Festival of Food Ideas Takes Over Montreal

FoodIdeas

Looking for something to do next Tuesday evening? Have I got a suggestion for you: The Festival of Food Ideas.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this event, which is part of activities around Food Secure Canada’s annual meeting being held in Montreal. The evening will bring together a plethora of speakers and representatives of food advocacy organizations from across Canada, including Montreal. It’s also open to the public. Some of the speakers at the event are from organizations that I’ve long held in high esteem and wished we had something similar in Montreal. (And who knows, maybe we do but I don’t know about them!)

Here’s a sample of some of the planned speakers:

They evening also has musical entertainment : Award-winning Abenaki film-maker Alanis Obomsawin will open the evening with a song, and additional entertainment is being provided by entertainment is being provided by jazz pianist and singer Jessica Vigneault (daughter of Gilles Vigneault), Juno award-winner Paulo Ramos, and percussionist Daniel Bellagarde.

All this will take place over food, of course! Much of the food is locally and sustainably sourced. Food prep is being provided by local restaurants and food banks. As well, the event is structured to facilitate a sharing of ideas.

All this takes place at Espace La Fontaine, a not-for-profit bistro located inside Parc Lafontaine, on Tuesday November 26th, starting at 6pm. It’s free (voluntary donations accepted).  Hope to see you there!

(Stay up to date with the even on their Facebook event page.)

Posted in Canadian Regions, Montreal, Quebec.

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Food Maps, Grass-Fed Beef, Satellite Imagery and Brussels Sprouts: Friday Link Roundup

My mostly weekly round-up of interesting articles that relate to sustainable food and dining for those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter, where I often post articles and recipes during the day as I come across them.

seedmap

Interactive Food MapDo You Know Where Your Food Is From?
Developed right here in Canada by USC Canada and ETC Group in Ottawa, Foodmap.org is an “online portal on seeds, biodiversity and food.” I’m just going to take the description right from their website: “The heart of Seedmap.org is an interactive map that uses Google technology to let you visit hundreds of case studies around the world where agricultural biodiversity originated, is threatened, and where people are working to safeguard it.” Seriously easy to get lost, in a good way, in this website. So cool!

Ontario Unanimously Passes Local Food Act.
All I can say is, “Way to go Ontario!”  The first legislation of its kind in Canada, the Local Foods Act will work to promote the wide array of foods that are grown and harvested in Ontario as well as increase the demand for homegrown foods among Ontarians. [...] In addition to the aforementioned provisions, the Act includes a commitment from the government to create more economic opportunities for farmers by making more local foods available in markets, schools, cafeterias, grocery stores and restaurants, in turn bringing more of our dollars spent on food back into the local economy and also reducing the costs and environmental impact associated with importing food products from long distances.”

Factory Farms From Above
Some fantastic satellite imagery of factory farms  are on display at Montreal’s McCord Museum as part of an exhibit by British artist Mishka Henner. As the article in wired.com notes, sure there is a sort of abstract beauty to the photos… but not to the farms themselves. The key feature in most of them are the manure lagoons. Yup. This is where most supermarket meats come from.  The exhibit is on until January 14th. It’s free.

One of the feedlots and manure lagoons as seen from space.

One of the feedlots and manure lagoons as seen from space.

The Truth About Grass-fed Beef
Wow: “A decade ago, there were only about 50 grass-fed-cattle operations left in the United States. Now, there are thousands and the numbers are growing.”  Clearly grass-fed beef is hot. (Yay!) While not quite a tell-all (Actually, I find the title is a bit misleading.), this brief article and video by NPR gives an overview of grass-fed vs corn-fed beef, and then does a blind taste test. And in case you’re wondering what grass-fed cattle eat in the winter, primarily hay, haylage, and a bit of molasses, it would seem!

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Fresh Walnuts and Pecorino
I’m never sure what to do with brussels sprouts. Being British, steamed brussels sprouts were a regular side dish for Sunday dinner. But I’m not a fan. So usually I slice and sautée them in butter with a dash of salt and pepper. But this recipe for brussels sprout salad looks fantastic and ridiculously easy (via Healthy Green Kitchen). So does this one for Brussels Sprout Hash with Sweet Potato and Bacon. Mmmm. Sweet potato! And brussels sprouts? Who’d have thunk?

Did you come across some interesting food-related news stories recently? Or do you have thoughts on any of these stories? Let us know in the comments below. – See more at: http://www.mindfultable.ca/#sthash.vGbqsQM7.dpuf

Posted in News, Various, Weekly Link Roundup.

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