Easy Being Green
Doing your part to act environmentally conscious on Earth Day isn’t as hard as it seems – actually, it’s a great way to kick off a regular habit of eating green for the rest of the year. Finding local and seasonal food in Nova Scotia is easy. It’s just a matter of making the commitment to change your regular grocery shopping routine.
A number of resources already exist for you to use on your journey to eating green. Organizations such as Select Nova Scotia, the Department of Agriculture, and Taste of Nova Scotia have been creating guides, websites, and the like, for years to try and promote our local foods. If you’re not quite sure where to start, try the Where to Buy Local tool on Select Nova Scotia’s website; this will give you an idea of local suppliers in your area. Also, try this list of links on the Agri-Food website which is organized by industry. These websites also offer great information on why eating local is beneficial to both your health and the environment. The Taste of Nova Scotia website offers up pure motivation by way of fantastic articles, photos and blog posts featuring our fantastic Nova Scotia cuisine, wine and beer.
Developing New Attitudes
The major challenge most people face, when trying to eat local, is simply breaking old habits. As we all know too well, old habits die hard, especially when it comes to food. The fact of the matter is, if you’re already enjoying a healthy and delicious lifestyle, the transition to eating local with a green focus is easy. Break the grocery store cycle and get into a routine of hitting up your weekly Farmers’ Market for all the fresh produce, meats and other goods that you can. Your grocery list doesn’t have to change – just where you buy, and the time of year, does. If your market doesn’t have all the regular items you are looking for, research local suppliers and ask about ordering directly, or if a local store can begin to order in for you. Buying as much as you can locally will make a huge difference. There will probably be a couple things you still need at the grocery store, but we’re not asking you to give up your Heinz ketchup – every little bit counts.
Seasonal Eats = Seasonal Treats
It’s not exactly pulling teeth to entice most people into eating our regional specialties, especially in restaurants. I got in touch with Amanda Langley at the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, to talk about the local food movement, and she confirmed that local is one of the biggest trends right now in the culinary world. “Canadian restaurants named Locally Produced Food & Locally Inspired Dishes as the #1 hot trend in their 2011 chef survey,” says Langley. Sustainability came in second, with nutrition and health following at third and fourth, respectively. This goes to show the recent shift in not only what the best chefs in the country want to work with, but also what consumers are demanding. Amanda adds that “consumers are looking for local foods to minimize the food miles their meals have traveled and thus minimize their carbon footprint. But, buying locally also supports family farmers and contributes to healthy local economies.”
Not only do these local ingredients reduce your carbon footprint, they also allow the cuisine to shine during its brightest moment. Seasonal items in Nova Scotia taste best during their natural harvest time; pair that with our talented chefs and you’ve got some seriously mouth-watering menus. “I think the most obvious benefit to buying locally is eating seasonally and getting to enjoy local foods harvested at the peak of perfection,” confirms Amanda. “Local products are the freshest choice and they deliver amazing flavour and quality. And, you can look forward to each season bringing familiar and memorable flavours to our table,” she adds. Agreed. There’s something so comforting, natural and delicious about consuming our province’s specialties in the season they’re meant to be enjoyed.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
The spring and summer seasons in Nova Scotia are my favourites, with not only fresh vegetables, meat, and seafood – but also an array of fruit available. Cooking seasonally in the spring and summer is so much fun, with so many possibilities. I couldn’t resist asking Amanda what kind of foods her ideal Earth Day meal would have. Her answer: “After a long, cold winter, spring in Nova Scotia means we all get to indulge in colourful foods again! It might be that first taste of fresh peas, mint, asparagus, rhubarb and spinach.” This is so true; I have picked out a few recipes perfect for spring from the Select Nova Scotia website to help you get planning a sensational spring meal:
“Asparagus is actually considered the first harvest of spring in Nova Scotia,” Langley informed me. She believes in celebrating Earth Day by “celebrating what is grown in your own backyard. Nova Scotia’s wide range of climate conditions and soil types means that we are blessed with one of the most diverse agricultural regions in Canada.” I couldn’t agree more! Find local ingredients that work for you, your cooking style, and make sure you have fun with it.
Amanda was nice enough to leave me a great Earth Day tip to share with our readers! “The seasons don’t last forever so you might want to learn the art of making jams, pickles, and preserves so that you get to enjoy your favourite seasonal tastes all year long!” Great advice!
Happy Earth Day!
Amanda Langley – Planning and Development Officer, Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture @NSChefBuyLocal