Regional food systems help create social connections between local producers and consumers that therefore foster greater attention to community and environmental impacts of food choices. Supporting such a system can also enhance its regenerative capacity and ability to reduce waste.
Vancouver Private Dining uses the freshest seasonal produce, meat, and seafood available through partnerships with local farmers and artisans. Owner and Culinary Director, Evan Elman says working collaboratively with BC food companies allows his culinary team to provide unique dining experiences while promoting sustainable harvesting and production in various industries such as fisheries.
“We are trying to figure out a sustainable way to get fish, specifically bycatch that the public isn’t inclined to order, into our kitchen through partnerships with local sustainable fisheries,” says Elman.
Vancouver Private Dining creates custom menus for its clients. That flexibility allows the team to showcase local in ways less common than other dining establishments. For example, Elman’s team reduces waste by using the tops of carrots for pesto or turning otherwise discarded fish, such as mackerel, into butter.
“So in that way, we are saving the bycatch from being wasted essentially and turning it into something desirable,” adds Elman.
Victoria’s Niche Grocerant is all about supporting local producers throughout the seasons. While customers browse Niche’s selection of local products, their kitchen can prepare a meal using fresh ingredients and local artisan goods. Chefs Andrea Duncan and Andrea Mackenzie love to use seasonal products because of the community that is built through these partnerships.
“It’s almost like cooking with a secret black box every week. After all these years, it still excites us to work with these beautiful products from these amazing suppliers and farmers,” says Mackenzie.
Supporting local farmers and producers on Vancouver Island is more important than ever. Residents rely heavily on imported produce and the increase in population has correlated with more demand for healthy food. The region’s land availability, mild climate, and water resources are preferable for food production. Yet between the 1950’s and 2004, local food supplying Island residents dropped from as much as 85 to about ten percent. This is, in part, due to a reduced interest in farming and local food production.
Mackenzie and Duncan recognize the potential regional food production has to increase food security. Sourcing products from local businesses supports the production of quality food and ensures food resilience within the Victoria area.
“A lot of these things that we have are not far away. If people are willing to support local, they are in for a treat,” adds Mackenzie.
Eaters can also help build local food systems resilience by supporting agrobiodiverse farms that produce regionally adapted and diverse produce. This often leads to diversified diets that may increase a food system’s capacity to recycle nutrients and reduce waste.
Langley’s Locality Brewing works with the land to grow, malt, and brew directly on their 160-acre property that includes an old-growth forest and two ponds. The topography of this landscape lends itself to permaculture and includes diverse crops such as hops, barley, and hazelnut trees.
Owner, Melanie MacInnes says having a variety of crops allows them to manage losses and can provide valuable information about what crops are best suited for their climate.
“Last year, the Centennial and Cascade hops didn’t do as well because it was really wet. But we found out Fuggle, which is a UK variety, thrived in the rain. It seems Fuggle is a hop that will do better in our climate and requires less maintenance,” adds MacInnes.
Locality’s 100% homegrown beer is straight from the field to glass therefore eliminating the environmental impacts associated with large production and transportation networks.
“A lot of our [Canadian] barley may be grown on the prairies and is shipped out of our country to be malted before being brought back. If you buy your beer here, it’s a zero-mile diet. There is no transportation associated with our beer,” says MacInnes.
The food choices we make have an incredible impact on the long-term success of our food systems and ultimately, food security. By supporting local food producers, eaters have the ability to not only sustain food systems but reduce the environmental impacts associated with large food chains and transportation networks.
“We eat every day, all day. If you value local communities, farms, and businesses and want to see more environmental practices, purchase products from those who value the environment. This only makes it more possible for others to do it that way as well,” says MacInnes.
We are excited Vancouver Private Dining and Locality Brewing will be joining us for our Metro Vancouver Feast of Fields 2021 event. Niche Grocerant has put its commitment to supporting local food on display as a participant and Bronze Sponsor of our Vancouver Island Feast of Fields event.
Visit our Feast of Fields event page to learn about this year’s celebration and what other local businesses you can expect in our harvest-style boxes.