How Our Food Choices Can Evolve

Posted on Wednesday, 2 June 2021 under Stories

Guest Blogger: Christine Kizik

My grandparents on my father’s side immigrated to Canada from Czechoslovakia in 1938. They settled in Toronto and had a massive vegetable garden in their backyard. When I was young, I remember gazing at all the bottles and jars in their root cellar, opening up new jars of pickles that my Baba had canned, climbing the plum trees to pick the fruit with my Zeda, and walking the length of the yard, which was huge, inspecting the various veggies growing. After they passed away, their knowledge went with them, as my dad was encouraged to study hard for a professional career so he would not have to work as hard as they did to put food on the table.

My teenage years were filled with processed food that was easy to make myself because my parents were divorced and my dad never really learned to cook until he retired and had the time.

hanging garlic

A glimpse into the garden. Photo courtesy of Christine Kizik.

My husband spent a year on a kibbutz in Israel to learn about organic farming and simple living. He was taught about the importance of healthy soil, water preservation, and how to build water catchment systems because of the dry and arid landscape. He spent another year working on organic farms in France, Italy, England, and Salt Spring Island through the Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOFing) program to further his knowledge about organic farming and permaculture.

Together we filled the balcony of our first condo with plants, trying to grow what we could in a limited space. We were not particularly successful in those early years but never stopped trying. We eventually had the chance to share a community garden plot where the soil was provided, the automatic sprinklers remembered to water the plants, and the yields were so much more impressive and exciting. We found the food from the garden tasted so much better than regular grocery store produce.

This was around the same time I left teaching after my dad died, started my own business, and became a vendor at our local farmer’s market. We really got to know the farmers in our community, bought their food, and realized how important supporting local food is. At this point, we had also moved out of our condo and into a home with a lovely yard that we immediately filled with raised beds so we could grow more food.

“WOOF” is a loose network of national organizations that facilitate homestays on organic farms. It aims to provide volunteers first-hand experience in organic and ecological farming methods. These experiences can range from a few days to years.

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range of produce from a farmer's market

A weekly market haul. Photo courtesy of Christine Kizik.

Before then, I honestly did not think much about where my food came from. My husband and I are both voracious readers and consumers of information and started to watch documentaries about food, the meat industry, factory farming, and small-scale farming. We became more mindful about the food we bought and where we got our meat, eggs, veggies, and fruit from. We live in an area with an abundance of berries in the summer and every year we would take our girls strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry picking at local farms. We would pick enough fruit to freeze year-round for smoothies, baking, and eating.

Now we are at the point where we feel pretty educated about where our food comes from and the choices we make. We love to shop at our local farmer’s market every week, stocking up on fruits and veggies, meats and cheese, eggs, preserves, plants, vegetable starts, and sauces. It feels so good to support these folks and we have been shopping from them for so long they feel like friends.

We learn something new each year, adding to our knowledge of how to grow our own food. Our youngest loves going into our yard in the summer to pluck ripe, warm cherry tomatoes from our garden and collect alpine berries, raspberries, and blueberries. My husband loves to putter around and cut greens for our salad. We get excited when our garlic scapes start growing and curling. I love pulling garlic bulbs from the earth, always eager to see how big they have grown, after having no idea what has been happening underground all those months as they grow.

children holding buckets of strawberries

Local berry picking with the girls. Photo courtesy of Christine Kizik.

We try our best, but we are not always successful. We are limited in space, proper knowledge of how growing food works, and the all-consuming issue of having enough time. With two young kids, multiple pets, and each running our own businesses, time is always an issue when learning how to grow our own food properly. We are aware of our shortcomings with growing our own food, and we are happy to support our local farmers instead. They always have the best food and freshest produce. It is always so neat to see how the cycle of seasonal food repeats each year, which is never much of a thought when you shop at the grocery store and can get whatever you want, whenever you want it. It really makes you take a pause and think about the importance of seasonal eating.

This is just a little peek into one regular families’ evolving experiences and our food-related choices.

About the Author

Christine Kizik lives in Coquitlam with her husband, two daughters, and beloved pets. She owns and operates Sola Skin Care and Amala Tea with her husband Eran.