the dog barks, the cat meows.

I am wary of people who do not have pets. All white houses with tidy opaque walls, minus a furry friend ambling around sends a signal, “this person can’t be trusted.”

It’s not difficult to fall in love with most, especially babies. Their wonderful energy and clumsy activity screams — “I need to be loved.” I cuddle and coo showering them with attentive pats, and yet with a full heart I turn and say a reluctant good-bye.

Sadly, we lost our family dog, Lulu last year. While her furry companion, Dakota is still with us, the loss of her is dramatically noticeable. We’ve had a lot of loss this year. I’ve been thinking about another addition to our home. We have space and love in our hearts to do so, but it is such a huge commitment.

Recently, I worked from the local South Paw Cat Café at 749 Bayridge Drive, Kingston. A chance to enjoy a quiet coffee, a sweet somethin’ and a work space surrounded by beautiful felines. Perhaps, even fill my fix for a new pet, or convince me I should bring one home.

The café opened a little more than a year ago, and has helped re-home over 40 cats through their partnership with Kingston Animal Rescue. Every time a cat is adopted a new orphan takes its place, typically eight cats are in residence at one time. As an animal lover, I was bewitched by the idea of a cat café, but also didn’t know what to expect. It was a pleasant surprise. The café is set up like most—you are greeted by a window display filled with delicious food, great staff and drink choices. However, the difference is that the tables are all located within a glass room. You are encouraged to make a purchase, and then slip inside to meet the feline stars of the show.

The tables are generally packed with cat lovers of all ages. In fact, sometimes you have to wait for a table. I learned it is not a place you go to finish work. Visitors at each table want to talk to the cats just as much as you. It’s the place where cat lovers seek out companionship and affection. I saw teens on dates, families, and met a friendly senior admiring the activity around us. I found myself being swept up by the energy in the room, adorable cats sleepily wrapped around each other, bathing or jumping from one hammock or scratching post to the next. It was such fun. I wanted to take them all home.

However, I do not have patience for people who take in pets when they can’t afford the time or money to care for them responsibly.

As a kid, I had very short-lived pet ‘experiences.’ My family got rid of pets as often as the seasons changed.  It was very traumatic. I would fall in love with a stray, be permitted to re-home and give it a name and then it would be gone. From memory we did seem to have a cat, but then they would have kittens. If we got a dog, and it didn’t respond the way it should we’d get rid of it. I blame my parents lack of care – no vets, no pet training, just old-school thinking.  If our pet was sick, Dad took care of it. Yes, it sends chills just thinking about it. Mom grew up on a farm, Dad was the man of the house, so I suspected felt it was his job. But, it was terrible. The pets would be shipped off to someone else. I’m certain it was traumatic for him too, but we never talked about it. We were simply told, ‘they ran away.” I feel terrible reflecting back on it. But, I also find that a lot of pet lovers purchase a new pet and still do the same. Either get fed up with them or love them so much, but can’t afford vet bills. This is not proper pet ownership to me.

This obviously affected me, therefore as an adult, any pet that is mine, is mine until they die. I’m notoriously responsible about vet visits, dog walks, cuddles, and doing your bit to keep your pet healthy. A pet fills a void and provides unconditional love, they trust in you to protect them, keep them safe. It’s your responsibility to act responsibly. Don’t get swept up in the gift giving season, or the sweetness of pet ownership, it’s a lot of work. Something I’m certain is the reason that many furry friends find themselves at Kingston Animal Rescue.

But, if you’re serious nothing beats cat and dog people. So, what makes them so attractive?

Firstly, it proves that you can give love to something other than yourself. Plants are great, (and you should be able to keep them alive too), however, a pet — is a living breathing activity that requires patience, beyond attention, and suggests you are capable.

Dog vs. Cat lover? I have dog friends that think cat people are weird, and cat people who think the same of dog owners. So, what if you enjoy both? I often say I fall in love with cats who think they are dogs. Then again, I’ve loved dogs who curl up and behave like a cat too.

Owning a dog tends to be more of a social endeavour, frequently more work with training, walking and socializing. They force you out of the comfort of your own home. Science claims dog owners are more extroverted.

Cats seem to be the stars of Instagram and Facebook. Also, cat people seem to score higher on intelligence. While they are more introverted, they tend to be more sensitive and open-minded. Although, at the South Paw Cat Café, cat lovers typically have a lot to say to other visitors.

Studies have also shown a direct comparison with which animal you prefer and how it reflects your politics. Liberal vs. Conservative. I don’t believe that the pet you identify with reflects your entire world view, but not being a pet owner affects my view of you.

There is plenty of room in this world for dog and cat people whether they should share the same space or not is a different story.

Check out South Paw Cate Café online at www.southpawcatcafe.com or follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Their Insta-stories are adorable and help you get to know each cat available for adoption. As for me, I’m considering fostering, perhaps a cat, or a dog to make sure it’s the right next step for me. I’m looking forward to this next adventure.

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.

A Not So Ordinary Holiday

By Kate Kristiansen

If you only knew, the story behind most photos would it appear as picture perfect? Our Christmas Day photo, next to the sparkling tree hid the frosty fueled craziness before dinner.

For many reasons, I wanted this year to end on a good note. 2014 kicked my butt.

For twenty years, we’ve celebrated with an annual gathering at Christmas, which has since grown with friends and family traveling great distances to begin the season at our house. There is carol singing, nibbles to nosh on —a memory we cherish. The truth is those occasions take a lot of work to make “picture perfect”. The groan of people who hate to sing, the endless hours of food prep, tree decorating and the general hustle we all feel at this time. This year the decorating and planning came to a halt when we got the call that hubby had to work over Christmas. Hubby works away most of the year and is on a project with a tight deadline in California. He would be working through the stats, but there was no way we would not be together at Christmas. Family means no one gets left behind. We planned to spend what time he had to enjoy those moments. So the tree we were waiting to decorate until he got home remained empty this season. Friends had to make new traditions of their own; the Kristiansen’s packed up and flew to California for the holidays.

Hubby arranged a real Christmas tree for our arrival. The plumped up version of a “Charlie Brown tree” its green limbs sprouting plastic balls lite up the hotel room we’d be sharing for the holidays. It was different to the beautiful balsam pine that typically stands in the center of our home filled with the collection of old ornaments from the years. We expressed gratitude that we had a tree and were together. The stockings from home, we strung along the desk in the corner of the room, and we sang from the song sheets loud and out of tune just like every other year.

The hotel was full. It was different sharing our holidays with strangers. Some were taking time out to check out Disney, or visiting family nearby, and others with extraordinary circumstances. Some, the insurance companies had relocated to the hotel while their homes were being fixed due to flooding. A great reminder of how lucky we were. The staff was warm and generous in spirit making us all feel at home.

The reality is that nothing is ever perfect. Those cheery Facebook updates hide the messy dysfunction called life. The mask slips, every other version of ourselves revealed in the love of a family.

Christmas Day hubby had to work. My daughter and I slept in, had a relaxing day and casually dressed for our Christmas Day booking at London, Gordon Ramsey’s West Hollywood restaurant. It was a treat for someone else to cook, and do the clean up— it promised to be a superb ending to the year.

We dressed in anticipation, Dad rushed in dirty and tired from his early morning working day, but we all were excited about the meal that lay ahead. Washed, dressed and fully primped, as perfect and superficial as Hollywood implies— we were ready. However, deep down the disappointment of Christmas far from home hovered in the air.

The car ride frightfully unraveled the dynamics of a Christmas lost and a different holiday memory we were about to create. The struggle fueled by hubby’s pokes at my LA driving, our daughter’s music requests from the back seat, and the continue prattle on about work craziness. A typical family conversation wherever you are. (At least in my family.)

We parked the car through squabbles and walked through the grand white and gold marble hallways of the hotel to the bustling restaurant. We should have been gleaming with happiness, but we could hardly string a sentence together by the time, we stood in front of the Maître d’ who ushered us to our table.

The London offers Gordon Ramsey cuisine re-interpreted by Executive Chef Anthony into California lifestyle. The restaurant offers five private salons and a cocktail bar elegantly central.

Our table was fit for six people, a white leather sofa for four along one side and two deep bucket seats, another reminder of just how small our party was this year. A view of the entire restaurant and the LA skyline speckled with lights, I was certain that everyone in the room could see the tension from our little family as we sat silently reading the menu. Hubby had left his cell phone in the car after being scolded by our daughter for talking about work on Christmas Day. I could see his mind and fingers twitching from an email he had received minutes before we parked the car. Like most people we have a rule, leave work at work. At times, a difficult practice for us all.

A set three-course menu featuring traditional British fair souped up for the holidays helped us unravel our bitterness and warm our hearts.

We started with chestnut soup with a duck confit (a salty, sweet soup I am still dreaming about), creamy squash risotto, and fresh green salad. The mains a pesto encrusted salmon, tender beef filet and a seared duck breast. All were melt in your mouth and beyond extraordinary. Food brings people together. We shed off our frantic arrival, sunk ourselves into each bite, oozing over the flavors and relished the time together. The large sofa proved useful as we leaned back, full and sated after desert of apple tartin with fennel ice cream and sticky date pudding. Great too for scanning the room — full of families, friends and those, perhaps in even strangers joined together on this day to share a meal. My daughter proclaimed it was the best meal she had ever had, with the perfect portions, tastes, and ambiance.

In reality, while it took us a moment to remember to be appreciative, (something we aren’t proud of) it was together breaking bread as a family that was the best part. The over-priced dining experience while a bonus was not a replacement to what each of us brings to the table. These times include weird, wacky stories, heated arguments and joyous laughter, food and memories made —some simple and others not so ordinary wherever we are. Picture perfect? Never.

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

Mojitos and Flesh Soup Feed Hope

Cuba 2014

Cuba 2014

Having just unpacked from the hot sandy beaches of Cuba amidst a homecoming of big fluffy flakes of snow…someone bring me a mojito.

I was warned that if I was in search of gastronomic delights that Cuba is absolutely not the destination to visit—beautiful beaches, horrible food.

Cuba is heralded as the world’s largest working model of semi-sustainable agriculture. They import some of their food, such as rice from Vietnam; otherwise they grow their own citrus fruits, mangos, coffee, sugar cane and more. I am interested in sustainable food models and was fascinated by the way in which Cuba feeds its people.

The visit was an eye-opener. Under a dictatorship, change can be enforced. In a democracy, there is greater freedom to choose the easy way out, which many of us in North America do every day.

Food tastes are personal and subjective. If you are in Cuba for a holiday and food is not an all-important factor then you’ll never go hungry.

We stayed at a high-end resort, and each day the food offerings were refilled for us to pick through. The chefs were available to cook morning omelets and lunchtime pastas to your choosing. I discovered parents carrying jars of peanut butter to quiet picky children and guests complaining about food choice, especially when flesh soup with grey watery broth showed up on the menu. I am told that visiting during high season you will find more variety. But, really, what is in flesh soup? For the most part, you will always find a beer and ham sandwich to suffice.

Book your a la carte reservations as soon as you arrive, you will generally find fresh local food at these onsite restaurants rather than at the buffet. It was recommended to visit the offsite paladares, the private restaurants located in family homes. Most professional chefs have abandoned state owned places and are now working in these establishments.

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However, it was the faces of the Cubans working within the walls of the resort and the opposition of the tourists more than the food that captured my interest. Each day, the workers were bussed or taxied in, with their warm welcoming smiles to work tirelessly for the vacationers.

The average Cuban makes in a year what most of us make in a week. For fifty-one years, Cuban’s have survived on a ration system installed by Fidel Castro as part of his communist regime in the 1960s. It involves a low-priced basket of basic food. The sub-sized ration includes rice, beans, potatoes, bread, eggs and a small amount of meat. No fruits or vegetables are included. Rations must be paid for. Despite communism having its roots in social equality, beef is reserved for their nation’s rulers and for tourists who can pay for it with foreign funds while staying at the resort hotels. The National Review reports that it is in fact illegal to sell beef to a Cuban.

Since 2008, things are beginning to change, Raul Castro took over government from his ailing brother Fidel and the country is trying to shift its people from a less goods subsidy (the ration system) to a more targeted welfare one.

Limited in what they can eat, Cubans spend much of their time thinking about their next meal. I, and many other tourists, found ourselves obsessing over food too.

Cuba is Caribbean’s largest island. It’s a geographically diverse land of mountains, fertile soil and clear waters—the perfect place to unplug and enjoy a peaceful calm holiday. I spent the vacation reading and sipping mojitos—fresh mint, ice, limes, soda and rum crushed together for the refreshing cocktail.

Christopher Columbus, when landing in Cuba, claimed he had discovered the Garden of Eden—a beautiful place, stunning turquoise waters and loads of fish. Today, Cuba is a dictatorship under Castro, and, while progress is being made, the future of Cuba still hangs in the balance. The recent changes have some losing confidence in their government and worrying about their future.

While not the poorest country in the world, Cuba is poor by North American and Western standards. But, where else could you get subsidized food, free education and health care, heavily supported basic living expenses, housing, water and electricity?

My “save the world” muscle was in overdrive, like other tourists I was ready to shell out gifts and money—until I stopped to think that this is Cuba, it’s not Canada. The world is a varied place, and there is more that makes a country go around. Their salary, after expenses, leaves the average Cuban in a similar situation as most Canadian’s after paying bills. My donation was the trip to aid tourism. The truest gift I could give them was respect and friendship.

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My neighbors here at home need my help. Loving Spoonful, Kingston’s food security experts report there are over 19,800 Kingston residents living below the poverty line. With the large fluffly white stuff falling and temperatures dropping this is the season of increased costs for us all—heat, electricity, gift giving and more. My gift giving will happen right here at home. The lovely beaches of Cuba helped to further cement my belief that food feeds hope. We can make an impact by donating and supporting here at home and continue to create a sense of community to those living right next door.
If you have a foodie biz or a restaurant suggestion please email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com or follow my blog LadyDinesAlot.com or on Facebook and Twitter.

Magic Moments at Musiikki Cafe

EMC Heritage Weekly Column- Up in My Grill
The saxophone and piano filters through the air, and the guy at the bar is taking requests for the kind of jazz I want to listen to. It’s a Tuesday lunch-time vibe at the Musiikki Café. A place that, even at lunch, inspires you to want to curl up with a single malt and listen, although I settle for a dark roast coffee and a cookie.

Musikki Cafe

Musikki Cafe

The Musiikki Café is more than a café; it is a setting for serendipitous moments, fresh and intrusive. It’s where creative stimulation exists and (as their coffee mugs read) it’s good for you.

The café has carved out a creative spot where you can enjoy live music, whisky and coffee.

Speaking of good for you, the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, while my lunch choice, aren’t the only option available; you can also enjoy quick sandwiches, wraps or a muffin with your coffee.

Owner Kris Clendining and I met earlier this month, after I stumbled on the little spot cut into the limestone, at 73 Brock Street, beside Atomica Gourmet Pizza and Wine Bar.

Owner, Kris Clendining

Owner, Kris Clendining

The Musiikki Café arose from a long passion Kris had for music and a venue to bring that to life. The location needed a lot of repairs. Thankfully, Kris is an experienced carpenter, and several friends helped support his new venture.

“A huge thanks goes to the people that helped, especially my friend, Geoff, who was our electrician and a great help in the renovation process,” said Kris. “It was a lot of work, restoring the building and we still have more to do, but if it wasn’t for good friends we’d never have gotten done what we did in five months, and now here we are nine weeks since we opened the doors, with nine staff; it’s crazy.”

“We’ve been changing things and doing things differently since opening. I wanted this to be a place for good live music,” said Kris. “It attracts the artist and musical community, for sure. It’s where our heads are at with what we are doing here. But, we get all ages—anyone from students to customers up into there 80’s and everyone in between.”

“It’s where the magical little moments happen,” said a staff member.

“For instance, soon after opening, we were a venue for Downtown Kingston’s Bluesfest. We have this huge outdoor garden stage, so we were a perfect location,” said Kris.

I told him he was crazy to have done this just after opening. He laughed.

“It was a huge learning curve, with over five hundred people through the doors weeks after opening—we learned a lot. It was great until it started to rain, something shut off, in the middle of the concert, it was a panic, but the musicians were great about it. We threw out some candles, and the musicians played in the dark.”

A magic moment.

“The evenings are more popular, given live music kicks off at 8 p.m. and runs til 11 p.m.,” said Kris “We are trying to program music from Monday through Sunday, but at this stage it’s Tuesday through Saturday. We are working on our website with the hope of having a sign up area for bands.”

The Café takes on a different vibe depending on what music is playing, and that could be anything: folk, blues, jazz.

“We want to keep it as diverse as possible; it needs to fit our atmosphere. Although, I won’t be surprised if we start adding a DJ at some point, too,” said Kris. “But, it will depend on the needs of our customers and what feels right. It’s all about the music.”

Musiikki also features over twenty-five brands of whisky, including Irish whiskey and Scottish whisky, and a Japanese Nikka Taketsuru, a 17 year old blend, which even with a head cold, I could smell its toasted biscuit tones, and a rare Sullivans Cove whisky from Tasmania.

The main floor of the café seats twenty, almost thirty in the large outdoor garden and stage under the canopy of an old tree. In the winter, heaters are added.

“In the next while, we hope to also open up the top floor when its finished being renovated, for an additional 30 seats,” said Kris. “My manager, Ryan is interested and passionate about good coffee, as a serious barista. It’s also important to us. We purchase our beans from a roaster in Picton.

“Ultimately, we want people to know that Musiikki Café has a good music scene and we have great whisky and coffee.”

Musiikki Café is open Sunday – Thursday 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 a.m. and Friday/Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 a.m. For show information, follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you have a foodie biz or restaurant suggestion email me at ladydinesealot@gmail.com, follow me on Facebook or my blog Ladydinesalot.com.

Kingston WritersFest and gasp – chocolate orgasm cakes

Hi Lindy:

I was at the Kingston Dinner Club too. The festival was so much fun. Your chocolate orgasm cakes look delicious!

♥ love in the kitchen ♥

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Last week was Kingston WritersFest – an epic literary affair for readers and writers held annually in late September. The event has become one of the premier writers festivals in Canada and one that changes the cultural landscape of the small town of Kingston.

Since 2009 when Kingston WritersFest began in earnest – it has attracted a huge variety of writers and readers from all over the world. The headline acts have included Margaret Atwood, Naomi Wolf (The Beauty Myth), Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient), Nobel Laureate J.M. Coetzee, Paul Auster, Joyce Carol Oates, and this year, Wally Lamb. Equally importantly, hundreds of other authors writing on every conceivable subject have graced the platforms of WritersFest – reading, teaching writing classes, and engaging in thousands of important literary conversations, both on and off stage.

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Made Near You

event-05
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