Thursday, September 20, 2012

Guest Post-Suzanne (and I'm glad you're back!)

It's true, I paid Suzanne to write all these nice things.

Thanks so much Suzanne. I love growing veggies, but I also love the wonderful people I have met because of what I do.
Suzanne and Mike, her husband are pretty inspiring too. I get great ideas for meals from them. You know like ...improving the basil lemonade by adding bourbon kind of meal!

CSA snobbery; happiness in Niagara

By Suzanne Taylor, locavore and nosy foodie.

Some of you might know me from Tree and Twig's sister blog, Eating Niagara. Occasionally I do write ups on local food products and farms for Tiffany. I'm grateful for the opportunity to share my passion for local eating in this way. 

For those of you that don't know me, I'm Suzanne. I work in health care, and when I'm not doing that, my husband, Mike, and I are eating and drinking everything fantastic that can be locally sourced in the Niagara region. We have been members of the Tree and Twig CSA for quite some time. 

My husband and I have been enthusiastic locavores for all of our 15 years together, having mostly lived in downtown St. Catharines and being regular farmer's market patrons, but we became devoted to eating exclusively local food as often as possible in about 2007 or so, when the 100 mile diet became big news around that time. We made a commitment to buying as much local food as we possibly could, and thus began our journey to finding all the good stuff. 

These days, we don't eat any meat, eggs, bread, fruits or vegetables that aren't locally produced, and we buy many other local products too; wine, honey, grape juice, cheese, jam, even dog cookies. We are committed, passionate local consumers and we are fairly familiar to producers across the Niagara region for this. I can find you just about anything locally grown; including passion fruit, if you ask. 

In my journey to the 100 mile diet, I discovered Tree and Twig farm and its wonderful CSA program. I had heard vague rumours of the Wellandport tomato lady since about 2006, but I wasn't even really sure where Wellandport was (in fact, I'm still not all that sure where Wellandport is), and hadn't arsed myself to get out there. But after discovering heirloom tomatoes, I knew I had to find my way to her and get some of her vegetables. I tracked down Linda Crago's number, armed myself with a step-by-step set of directions from Google Maps, and arranged to pick up my first basket. 

I got there, after being periodically convinced on the drive that Wellandport was an illusion and did not exist, and Becky and Timmy, the collies of long ago, set up a ruckus. I wasn't even sure I was in the right place, but Linda came out and greeted me and handed me a basket. I handed her my money, and then I took my basket home, and tried to decide what, exactly, she had given me. What was that grass-like stuff? What did you do with all those greens? Was that pepper hot? (The answer to that is almost always yes). 

But by 2009 I was well versed in all of Linda's offerings. I learned what saltwort was, what to do with headless cabbage and leaf broccoli, and not to bite into anything purple she gave me. I even spent a day weeding her garden with her, and my muddy feet and mosquito bites taught me a lot about the reality of organic farming. 

Unfortunately, my husband and I relocated to Owen Sound in 2010 because of work, and I was quite saddened to lose my weekly Tree and Twig basket. I immediately set about sourcing out a CSA program up north, and indeed found two, which were very good, but it just wasn't the same. It was all good food, but there were no funky-coloured eggplants in my basket, no tomatillos, no scorchingly hot peppers to contend with, no real heirloom vegetables of any kind. Also, tomatoes don't ripen well in the northwestern Ontario climate, and so the CSA growers didn't grow a lot of varieties, and I missed these most of all. I got a piddling little handful of cherry tomatoes at best each week. 

In January 2012 life changed for us again and we returned back to Niagara. I was grateful to get back to eating the bounty that is Niagara food. We immediately signed up for Linda's CSA again, for all three seasons, and picked up our first basket in early March. 

It was a whole whack of greens, of course, mustards and arugula and chard, but I was well prepared to deal with it, and got my saucepan out, and wilted down that big basket of greens with some butter and chicken broth, which I ate in a single sitting, with melted butter running down my chin. 

I stuck my finger into the bottom of the bowl and licked it, and I'm pretty sure I saw the face of God when I did it. He winked at me and I grinned. 

It's good to be back here where the food is good and people grow ground cherries. I'm intensely grateful to be here and back visiting Linda and Joey once again. I plan to eat her food for as long as she grows it. 

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