For the Love of Food at the Waterfall Café

Kingston Heritage & Frontenac Gazette

Nothing but passion is behind the door of the Waterfall Café in Yarker.  This unexpected eclectic foodie haven is nestled next to a tumbling waterfall, giving great joy and pleasure to many.

The charming Waterfall Cafe seeks new owner.

The charming Waterfall Cafe seeks new owner.

Years ago, owner/chef Eric De Poe discovered this gem and repurposed the historical site at 2810 County Road 6 as a labor of love.

“I am not a trained chef, but I’ve been cooking since I was twelve,” explains Eric. “It’s my Mother’s fault really…it all sparked one morning I had slept in and came downstairs demanding breakfast. She took one look at me and made it clear that I was left with the choice of going hungry, or cooking for myself. I’ve been cooking ever since,” he laughs.

A natural love of flavor and a keen interest in food carried through to his University days and beyond.

“I always wanted a restaurant. I would walk by the windows of one, and peer inside, full of ideas and with a dream of having my own one day.”

Eric De Poe, Owner Waterfall Cafe

Eric De Poe, Owner Waterfall Cafe

That fortuitous day arrived when he fell for the old charm of the tearoom, at the foothill of the waterfalls of the Napanee River.

Waterfall cafe is a short drive from many natural attractions such as camping, cottage country, geo-caching, and a rugged gorge experiencing lots of traffic from tourists and locals alike.

The story begins on a weekend break from the big city—Eric found what became a great love. Overnight in cottage country, one dark and stormy day, he crashed in on a real estate tour of the crumbling building. Something about the quaint space and the countryside enticed him to buy it. Totally unexpected, or was it?

Those early years, it was a one-man show. Eric worked a full week in Toronto and travelled to his little oasis to shop, chop, bake and wash the dishes at his little café. Living the dream as they say.

He enthusiastically tackled new recipes, expanding and learning the business.

His good fortune continued—he met the lovely Barbara Linds, also a busy executive and single-Mom living in Toronto. It was love, especially when she too fell for his charming café. Thankfully she also had a good sense of humour—for he claims what sealed the deal, was her passion for his tearoom.

On their wedding day, he jokingly recalled that when searching for a partner; the ad read: Intelligent man seeks intelligent and creative woman—must love tearoom! The two have been busy at the business ever since, working their day jobs and commuting to the café, until they finally relocated to Yarker.

“We hired a very talented design team to help re-construct a loft apartment upstairs and a huge mural (located on the outside wall) symbolizing the importance of this historical area,” says Barbara. “We engaged the community, meeting with it’s members for their input on what the mural should look like, and held a big celebration when it was done.”

Mural in Yarker by Bon Eco Designs

Mural in Yarker by Bon Eco Designs

Carolyn Butts & Hans Honegger of Bon ECO designs made a sculpture of wood, foam and tire strips to celebrate the industrial past.

Their efforts continued with the re-design of the loft, which is magazine worthy, styled as an urban Manhattan apartment, with natural light and views of the cascading waterfall below. The café runs on geo-thermal heating and cooling.

The falls next to the Waterfall Cafe

The falls next to the Waterfall Cafe

Sadly, this love story is coming to an end. (Not for Eric and Barbara, who even today, smiling, he brushes by her with a kiss). Their future continues with many exciting projects on the horizon. “Eric works expansively at everything,” smirks Barbara. “I can’t see him retiring anytime soon.”

But, it is time to close the doors of the Waterfall Café as they begin this new chapter. The café and two bedroom apartment is up for sale, or lease.

The delicious earth-friendly dine in/ take-out menu of home-style chicken and ribs, vegetarian stacks, salads, and homemade pies served with a smile—all creative visions of Eric De Poe.

“It’s been a slice!” said Eric, “I’ve loved cooking for you.”

The community and tourists will miss pub nights, jazz evenings, author readings and weekend stops at the Waterfall Café.

“We hope to pass this along to someone who will serve great food.” (A local chef, baker or individual interested in canning and in need of a commercial kitchen would benefit from this space.)

Chef Eric will continue to serve up Friday – Sunday, and holiday Monday’s until it closes on Labour Day. Drop in to say farewell, or take a peak inside…maybe it’s long been your dream to own a restaurant too? For more information about the Waterfall Café visit http://www.waterfallcafe.ca  or call 613-377-1856.

If you have any restaurants or foodie business suggestions that I seek out, please email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com or Follow my blog LadyDinesAlot.com or on Facebook and Twitter.

Eat Well & Learn

As featured in Kingston Heritage and Frontenac Gazette:

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Chef Ian Arthur is a renaissance man: a self-taught chef, educated in International Development Studies, with interests in politics, activism and promoter of all things local, especially food.

He is Executive Chef at the beloved Chez Piggy restaurant, located at 68R Princess Street, Downtown Kingston. Simple ingredients can make any dish take on a new life. A quick study, Chef Arthur has a way of identifying tastes and creating a menu that is exactly what you the customer desire. This kind of palette requires a lot of experience, although it appears he is a natural.

Ian began his career as the “salad boy” at Chez Piggy, and in 2008 returned to help run the kitchen as Sous Chef then four years ago took over as Executive Chef.

Introduced to the love of food by his mother, Janette Haase author of From the Seed to Table, a local how-to book for aspiring gardeners. Ian learned the difference fresh ingredients could make when cooking. “Fresh elements, simply prepared to showcase their natural flavors, are the cornerstone of Ian’s food philosophy,” states his website. His degree in International Development fueled his already burning desire to understand people, culture and at times the inequity that exists.

What is local? It can mean different things to many people. The farm to table, farm to road movement is alive in Kingston. People are considerate of where food comes from, and Chef Ian Arthur wants to help further this movement by teaching us how to source it, and eat well.

“I am excited about the value of agriculture and the ripple effects it has,” said Chef Ian. “Buying local means that you are feeding that back to farmers and in turn fuelling the local economy. I buy into this philosophy, and I want everyone too.”

“I get out to meet the Farmer and see where things are grown and produced. Recently, I was visiting Lemoine Point Farm, where Jessie Archibald gave me a sample of his homemade prosciutto. It was the best prosciutto I’ve ever experienced before, better than anywhere else in the world.”

A passionate chef. He has learned this by traveling in search of culinary experiences. “My favorite food in the world is Spanish food. It’s about tying three main flavours together, to get high-quality food. Dishes such as aglio e olio, which is pasta with garlic, olive oil and blistered PADRÓN peppers. French food is about taking a million things and still making something amazing, but not as simply.”

“I get bored really easy, which is why I keep busy. As the Chef, it’s all day every day, but it’s fun! When I do have time, I like reading. I read lots of different things. I just read, Dan Barber’s Third Plate and enjoyed his perspective, he asks the right questions and challenges you to really think about food, the book is really a movement.”

Ian knows the importance of absorbing this knowledge and introducing it into his kitchen. “Our team works together; they are very supportive of my ideas, even when they aren’t always convinced, they give it a try.”

Recently, Chez Piggy introduced Sunday roast dinners from now until March 29. Ian believes that Sunday is made for sharing with friends and family so he wanted to start a new tradition. For $20 enjoy the experience of a family style roast, soup or salad, and finish up with a slice of homemade pie. Best part, you can avoid the clean up at home.

Chef, Ian Arthur

Chef, Ian Arthur

Chef Ian shares his convictions readily through his website Ianarthur.ca where he provides recipes, opinions and principles of good food, even a selection of cookbooks that he actively uses or considered to be his “textbooks” for teaching him.

He is involved in community. He is one of a group of chefs who annually participates in Guilty Pleasures in support of food security non-profit, Loving Spoonful. Last week, each Chef prepared a version of a meal that included a component of the Chef before them. The concept of the event being what to do with leftovers and the ease of re-using food in new ways to create something equally as exciting—fresh, not wasteful.

He is a busy guy. In the summer, he supports the Chef demo’s in Downtown Kingston Springer Market Square in addition to all of the charity support Chez Piggy restaurant continues throughout the year.

After their holidays, Chez Piggy delayed re-opening due to some flooding. They have now returned and are offering up winter wine pairings. This special menu features three courses with wine for $40 per person.

Chez Piggy is open Monday to Friday: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m./Dinner 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information about Chef Ian Arthur visit Ianarthur.ca. Follow this tuned in Chef on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Send me your restaurant or foodie biz suggestions to ladydinesalot@gmail.com, follow my blog LadydinesAlot.com, or on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Food is the Language of Love.

free-valentine-039-s-day-fruit-cakes-pictures-wallpaper_1600x1200_89857Food plays a huge part in Valentine’s Day, the celebration of love. Communing over a table as a group, or a couple to enjoy a meal is one of the best gifts of all.

“One cannot think well,love well, sleep well if one has not dined well,” said Virginia Wolf. This statement is entirely my mantra too.

There are several opinions on the history of Valentine’s Day. One is the story of Valentine, a physician who was believed to be a gastronomist, who made his medicines more palatable by blending them with spices, honey, and wine. Valentine incarcerated for his religious beliefs, and legend has it that he sent a note to his love before his execution on Feb. 14, signed “from your Valentine.” Each year until 1969, a feast day was celebrated in his honor.

Cupid the sweet little cherub and hearts are other symbols of the season. All stories over the centuries have evolved and merged in the holiday we celebrate today. But, no one can argue that the best triggers of the season is sharing food of the senses in all it’s forms, whether chocolate, wine, berries, pasta or more.

More than mere words, nothing says, “I love you” than sharing a meal.

If you don’t fancy your kitchen skills, there are many unique ways to enjoy the season as a couple or a group outing in Kingston. Let these fantastic chef’s do the cooking for you!

Cozy up in the newly refurbished Aqua Terra by Clark Day (located in the lobby at the Delta Hotel, 1 Johnston Street). The dining room features large windows with views of the Kingston harbor and city. They have a new look, but thankfully the menu is as delicious as ever.

Theatre Kingston presents a special Elizabeth- Darcy dinner package with le Chien Noir Bistro (69 Brock Street), the delicious French restaurant includes a ticket to the show at Frontenac Inn and a 3-course meal for $60/ per person. Call the Grand Theatre box office for details at 613-530-2050. Tea and scones are served post show with an artist. A unique Valentine experience, show closes Feb. 15 – reserve now.

Olivea Restaurant (39 Brock Street) and Casa Domenico (35 Brock Street) are among my favorite Italian locations, fresh pasta and sauces and a perfect setting across from the Springer Market Square. Enjoy a glide-and-skid before or after dinner with your sweetheart.

Pan Chancho (44 Princess Street) is offering dinner service until 9 p.m. at present. Chef’s from sister restaurant, Chez Piggy and Pan Chancho have teamed up. Get in quick to enjoy wonderful food in this intimate setting for a limited engagement.

Curry Original (253A Ontario Street) makes my list too. It’s hubby, and my favorite date night location—warm spicy authentic Indian food in a beautiful limestone building.

Days on Front (730 Front Road) located in the little mall, don’t let the location fool you, inside you will find a superb menu and attentive staff.

For the budget savvy try Harper’s Gourmet Burger Bar (93 Princess Street), or dine at Golden Viet Thai (206 Wellington Street) for cheap Thai food at it’s best – eat in or takeout available.

I would welcome your selfie’s and feedback on any of these suggestions. It’s been two years since I started writing this column, thank you for your emails and restaurant ideas. Sharing food creates a special bond between people. This Valentine’s day, I toast you, toast the food you (we) eat together, and best of all, toast life.

“From your Valentine,” a.k.a Lady DinesAlot.

If you have a restaurant suggestion or foodie biz, please contact me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com or follow my blog at LadyDinesAlot.com or on Facebook/Twitter.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Foodies

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The warm glow of downtown shop windows, dressed for the holidays, and the fresh fallen snow helps fuel the spirit of the season. These little windows lure me in searching for the perfect gift for loved ones.

Hubby claims I am one of the hardest people to gift too. He refuses to believe me when I tell him the card means the most—the chosen words scribed inside, is the greatest gift. He knows this gesture counts just as much as the gift. (This doesn’t mean, complete it seconds before you stuff the card in an envelope and hand it me—especially when I can see you.)

Admittedly while it’s the thought that counts, he does get the gift giving part wrong more often than not. For example, one of the first gifts he ever bought me was a mini-mag-lite flashlight. My face must have given me away, cause when I opened it he quickly blurted out: “It’s pewter?” I don’t wear much jewelry, but a gal gets her hopes up when a carefully wrapped package is in a long thin black box. I was backpacking at the time, so his thought process was in line, and in truth, it was, and is what I needed. It’s these little gestures that keep me smiling year after year.

I know friends who work at it really hard, scouring the shelves, in search of the one thing that will bring a jolly sparkle to their partner’s eyes. I’m that half: I love this time of the year, and relish locating the perfect gift. Neither are into big overly priced items although in an effort to get it right hubby has on occasion thrown a lot of money at the gift-giving thing. I can always tell when he has had help from a well-meaning colleague or our teenage daughter.

Stick to the card, I tell him. But, for when he insists….

Here are my holiday picks for any culinary adventurous friends:

  1. Gift Certificate to any of my favorite restaurants. There should be no doubt that it will get used for long lunches and lazy dinners. If you need helpful suggestions – read my column.
  2. Vintage Cake Slice from P’Lovers Store – 123 Princess Street, Kingston
    Each uniquely designed with different sayings engraved into the pewter. I bought one for a friend it reads: Slice of Love.
  3. From the Farm Cooking School gift certificate – Prince Edward County
    Learn culinary techniques from Chef and Food Writer, Cynthia Peters in an old 1830’s farmhouse in Prince Edward County. To purchase a gift certificate and for more information visit www.fromthefarm.ca.
  4. Kingston Olive Oil Company– 62 Brock Street, Kingston
    I currently have five empty bottles (they recycle used bottles) on my countertop, of these delicious extra virgin olive oils. The store features hundreds of choice along with balsamic vinegars, salts, and spices. My go to is the Picual infused olive oil and Lavender balsamic vinegar.
  5. Salted Caper Berries, Pan Chancho – 123 Princess Street, Kingston
    One thing every foodie needs in their kitchen, but their are other great tasty finds to purchase like creamy brie cheese, breads and more.
  6. Trays of squares, tarts, and cookies – Cards Bakery – 304 Bagot Street, Kingston
    The gift of fresh baking (that someone else baked), icing on the cake! It takes loads of time off the already busy holiday schedule. Face it most foodies having been baking since Thanksgiving. This gift will always be welcomed, and devoured.
  7. Cookbook – Novel Idea – 156 Princess Street, Kingston
    Foodies never have too many cookbooks, even when they rarely use recipes. They get us cracking, stirring and brewing from street food, buying local, and simple beautifully written books with loads of scrumptious pictures. If you get stuck, pick up the Chez Piggy or Curry Original cookbooks.
  8. Cooke’s Fine Foods – 2395 Princess Street, Kingston
    Simply walking inside lights me up with its fresh smell of coffee. I love visiting for gifts any time of the year. Pretty much anything from their coffee to saffron, smoked paprika spices, gift baskets, and dark chocolate are a win.
  9. Limestone Creamery Organic Egg Nog – Tara Foods, Pan Chancho or visit the Limestone Organic Creamery, 3113 Sydenham Rd, Elginburg
    Limited to the season, grab as much as you can of this creamy treat. Fix your foodie a drink of eggnog dusted with nutmeg, cinnamon, and they’ll be yours forever.
  10. Wine Glasses – every foodie loves needlessly large wine glasses or funky twisted ones that never fall over for long conversations over the table. By year-end, one is always in need of a new set—loads of belly laughs, high fives, and tearful resolutions are in a glass of wine. Choose a local Prince Edward County Wine to pair with it, or grab a set of white and red glasses. (Yes, there are different kinds.)

If you purchase anything from four through to ten, give me a call, and I’d gladly use my mini-mag-lit flashlight to find my way to your house this holiday season.

If you have a restaurant recommendation or foodie biz suggestion email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook and Twitter or my blog LadydinesAlot.com.

Niche to Mainstream? Fourth Annual Local Food Conference

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EMC Heritage: Local food is a powerful source in our agri-food system, yet not all local food shoppers are buying the same. Kingston hosted the Fourth Annual Local Food Conference— where local food business owners, producers, distributors and those passionate about local food explored the topic of creating space in a crowded market or staying niche.

The two-day conference on November 24 and 25 presented by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), in partnership with Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO), launched with a tour of local business. Attendees visited MacKinnon Brothers Brewery Company, Patchwork Gardens and Farm Boy, where a representative discussed ways of getting local products into the store.

What is local? Some describe anything within a 50 or 100-kilometre radius as local; others include anything grown in Ontario or made in Canada as local. What was clear was that foodies want what they want, and business owners you can’t afford to ignore them. Buying local is not a trend that is going to disappear.

“Local food gives people a sense of place,” said keynote speaker Steve Beauchesne, CEO of Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, which began with beer making by Steve and his Dad. In a market place dominated by large companies, Beau’s grew from a staff of five, plus Mom (who would help with the books after her day job) to one hundred and twenty-five employees and four million litres of beer a year.

Are they mainstream? Sure are. Are they local? Absolutely.

“Whether it’s broccoli or beer, you are providing buyers with an experience,” said Beauchesne in his speech to over 200 attendees.

Be unique. Grow your business as big as you want. Food hubs and sharing ideas and distribution process are great ways to leverage your growth—as the master of your own destiny you can still remain niche, and yet become mainstream.

Whether your passion is hops growing, cheese, craft beer making, network resources were onsite and ready to assist. Greenbelt Foundation provided an overview of the latest developments in local food hubs, TD Bank discussed helpful solutions in choosing the right point of sale technology, and Foodland Ontario provided market intelligence to get to know your customers better.

The 2013 Usage and Attitude Survey profiles the Ontario main grocery shopper as an adult between the age of 24-54 years, 60% female and 40% male.

“87 percent are eating meals at home, and 42 percent are buying local,” said Kelly Ward, Supervisor of Brand Services for Foodland Ontario.

Customers want fresh, nutritional food; that’s a huge benefit to Ontario farmers, the economy and the environment. While seasonal challenges exist, consumers place the greatest importance on buying local, easy to accomplish with meat, eggs, dairy and baked goods, more difficult with fruits and vegetables.

Food habits have changed over time. There are different demographic trends on how shoppers buy, consume food and prepare food.

Generation X (30-45 years old) wants to feed their kids healthy food, but price still remains important. They want good products at a good price. They are interested in recipes and meal planning, often waiting for the flyers to come out for discounts.

Generation Y (20-30 years old), commonly referred to as the Millennial searches out intense flavors, generally choosing more socially responsible food choices. They want to know where their food comes from, and they want it clearly labeled. When they need to know how to make something they seek recipes from online searches rather than cookbooks..

Generation Z (19 and under), the “salad” generation, is even more food savvy than the tastemakers before them.

Those over 50 years of age are also socially responsible but often less so then their counterparts—buying and eating differently from each other, too. They are commonly referred to as the “sandwich” generation.

The key is to understand your customers, create a business plan and strategy that helps you gain market position. The Local Food Conference featured many industry leaders and community organizations helping local small businesses take their ideas from the kitchen to the wider market place.

Trissia Mellor, Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre from Colborne, Ontario shared the project planning and development for their region’s 15,000 square-foot niche food processing facility that, when opened, will accommodate small batch processing, packaging and storage of foods.

Buy local, eat local—together we can make a difference. For more information and resources visit www.ontario.ca/omafra.

I Love Me Some Sweet Potato!

The wonderfully hearty fall vegetables are here—potatoes, winter squashes, brussel sprouts, broccoli and, of course, let’s not forget the sweet potato. Commonly referred to as yams in North America, this naturally sweet-tasting vegetable is easy to grow, inexpensive, delicious and has huge health benefits.

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Is there a difference between a sweet potato and a yam? Not in North America—a yam is a version of the sweet potato, and the name is interchangeable. Many countries call it a different name. When I lived in New Zealand, the sweet potato was referred to as the kumara in Maori, the language of the native Polynesian people of New Zealand.

I once worked on a farm while backpacking downunder—my job was to pick and pack this royal vegetable. These large vegetables would be up-rooted with a tractor, dried in the sun, and then, hunched over the hill, I would pick and pack them into a basket, dragging it along until I filled it, and then start on the next row. After long hot days, you’d think I would never want to see another sweet potato, but you’d be wrong, these are one of my favorite vegetables to cook and eat.

Sweet Potatoes are a reliable crop, and grow well in a variety of farming conditions. While sensitive to frost, many continue growing even after frost has killed the vines and leaves. Ideally they should be harvested 90–100 days after planting or whenever they reach a medium size and the leaves start to turn yellow. They have few natural enemies, and when cured properly can be stored up to thirteen months after harvesting. This edible tuberous root is long and tapered, with a smooth skin whose color ranges between yellow, orange, red, brown, purple and beige. The sweet potato flesh can be beige through to white, red, pink, violet, yellow, orange, and purple, depending on the skin color. If not growing your own, be sure to purchase firm, medium-sized sweet potatoes without any cracks, bruises or soft spots.

Whether you are trying to cut carbs and lose weight or bulk up and build muscle, these fibre-rich root vegetables are packing a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins.

Website, Sweetpotato.com claims the benefits of this vegetable are the following:

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Sweet potatoes are high in Beta Carotene and vitamins E and C;

Sweet potatoes are a good source of fibre when eaten with the skin on;

Sweet potatoes offer other nutrients such as potassium, iron and vitamin B-6;

Sweet potatoes are an excellent way to eat healthy. They are fat-free and cholesterol-free;

Sweet potatoes have unique health benefits. They are loaded with vitamins A, C and E, which are antioxidants that may even help prevent heart disease and cancer, bolster the immune system and even slow aging by promoting good vision and healthy skin.  They are anti-inflammatory and can protect against emphysema;

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of copper, magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamin B-6.

These vitamins play an important role in our overall health and wellbeing.

Vitamin C is helpful in warding off cold and flu viruses and plays an important role in bone and tooth formation, digestion and blood cell formation.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may protect against heart disease.

Potassium is a mineral necessary for muscle contraction, nerve transmission, bone health, water balance and normal blood pressure.

These vegetables are sweet-tasting, but their natural sugars are slowly released into the blood stream, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain.

I love how versatile they are to cook and use in a variety of dishes. Winter is approaching, and I like to load up on sweet potatoes given that they pair well with warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, chili and many others.

There are so many fun ways to cook them. Try them roasted, pureed, steamed, baked or grilled. Add them to soups and stews, or grill and place on top of leafy greens for a delicious salad. Grill them with onions and red peppers for amazing sandwich or wrap ingredients. Puree and add them to smoothies and baked goods. They are an excellent accompaniment to poultry, pork, beef, lamb or seafood.  They can also be substituted in virtually any recipe that calls for apples, squash or white potatoes. Basically, there is not much that doesn’t benefit from a sweet potato, and it’s good for you too.

If you have a restaurant or foodie biz suggestion email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com, follow my blog at LadydinesAlot.com or on Facebook and Twitter.

Made Near You

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As in most cities, an interest in urban food gardening and agriculture has rebounded. On a recent visit to a supermarket chain, I was surprised to see signs posted high above the fresh produce, reading: Made Near You.

What does that mean—made near you? Does it mean made in Ontario? Or did the local farmer who lives around the corner grow the food? And what constitutes local? Either way as a marketer I thought, what a clever way to get people to buy food. As a foodie, I thought they really are listening to what consumers want and need.

My philosophy remains that I am pro-farmers’ market— I like to buy local and I like to grow some of my own food. However, I still find myself pushing my shopping cart up and down the aisles of the grocery store. I am typical of most people—it’s convenient, open seven days a week and some even stay open for 24 hours.

My local is Trousdale’s Foodland in Sydenham, which I am pleased to report still means I am buying local. Foodland Ontario’s website states they were developed in “1977 as a consumer promotion program of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food. They partner with producers to promote and support the consumption of fresh produce and agricultural foods.”

Supermarkets are relatively new; they’ve only been around for four generations. A difficult thing to conceive given that we often visit on average 1-2 times per week, and life without them seems unfathomable. Once we accepted the easy, convenient, affordable one-stop retail shop—we no longer required face-to-face with the farmers, the fisherman, and the fruit growers who produced our food. Today you can even exit, by simply swiping a barcode to make your payment.

I recently read, Food and the City by food writer and urban agriculture enthusiast, Jennifer Cockrall-King. The book takes you on a journey of the urban agriculture movement that is happening across the globe at the moment. In the book, she describes the ‘Pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap’, business motto of Jack Cohen, who in 1919 founded Tesco, currently the United Kingdom’s largest supermarket chain at the beginning of the industrial food.

She reflects on the cultural change of urban agriculture, her happy discoveries of finding food growing in cities, in unexpected ways and unique places. Society has changed and is now counting their food miles more than ever.

“I discovered that counting my foods food miles was a luxury that others, even in my own city, didn’t have,” writes Cockrall-King.

“Many large urban centers were coming to be known as food deserts because of the total absence of proper grocery stores, which therefore resulted in less access to affordable, nutritious, fresh food in their immediate vicinity. Usually what remained were convenience stores and fast-food outlets. Food—for the first time in a many generations—is back on the political menu.”

We, as a community, are concerned about preserving local food culture, we question the miles in which our food travels, we understand the need to shorten the food chain to buffer against food shortages and price increases. We also desire to build resilient food security measures for the community.

While not the answer to the crisis in the industrial food system—supermarkets are not the enemy. Foodland Ontario, like others are now finding efficient ways to get the farm fresh food to you, in a convenient way. In fact, supermarket food chains are finally listening on other fronts too. They are buying locally produced food and meat from farmers where possible. Loblaw’s Companies Ltd. works with local food suppliers, to stock their shelves, offering education, and even supply and business strategies to these start up’s. Even cooking classes to teach consumers how to use this healthy food.

Some stores donate their surplus food to the community such as Loving Spoonful a non-profit organization (www.lovingspoonful.org) that supports access to healthy food. One of their programs is a volunteer food reclamation delivery service, which picks up fresh food from restaurants, caters and supermarkets, that may otherwise be wasted, and deliver it to over 20 local food agencies that feed the hungry in the city of Kingston. This is a sustainable way to ensure food, that is safe for consumption, may be simply mislabeled or discontinued products can get to those that are hungry.

Food and the City describes the urban-agriculture revolution happening in many cities across North America and in other places like Europe. It will inspire you to really consider the words “made near you.”

Author, Jennifer Cockrall-King will be in Kingston, Thursday, September 25, 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. as part of the Kingston WritersFest September 24-28, 2014. King will present stories and images about her visits to community gardens in Paris, urban commercial organic farms in Havana, rooftop veggie gardens in London and Seoul, food forests in Edmonton and Seattle, urban bee keepers in Toronto, and the world’s first vertical farm in Chicago. For more information or to get your tickets to other food events at the Kingston WritersFest, visit http://www.kingstonwritersfest.ca.

If you have a restaurant or a foodie biz suggestion email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com or follow my blog LadyDinesAlot.com, on Facebook, or Twitter at #ladydinesalot