Archive for Food Issues

@Flourist Chocolate Chip Cookies

Things I think a lot about: sustainability, the environment, and how we can save the planet. 

Well that’s a bright and cheery intro, hey? 

Okay. But seriously. The main reason I gave up eating meat all those years ago is because of the environment. And while I totally get that not everyone is going to stop eating meat, if we all just ate less meat, it would make the world a better place. I loved this recent article in The Atlantic that advocates that we even just give up beef, and how much of a change that could make to our planet. 

Flourist Chocolate Chip Cookie baked in a large cast iron sklllet

Another option for those of you who are concerned about the environment, but aren’t ready to give up meat, is to only buy locally-farmed, pasture-raised meat. These animals are better cared for, and put less of a toll on the environment. 

In fact, there’s a lot of research out there that advocates for eating locally, and that doing so could actually be the best thing for the environment. There is a lower carbon footprint if you have to ship food a shorter distance. For me, also, I prefer to support our local businesses if possible, keeping more money in our local economy. 

But you know what else I think about?? Bread. And the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. And pizza dough. And Focaccia with rosemary and sea salt, dipped in good olive oil and balsamic. 

round loaves of sourdough bread

Yesssssss. 

And so it was, for all these various reasons, that I was super happy to see that Flourist finally was able to open up a bricks and mortar location here in Vancouver. 

I’ve been fans of them for a long time (since before they rebranded in their current iteration). They sell local (well, from as far away as the prairies) grains and pulses that are locally milled and high quality. We’re talking heritage grains and Canadian pulses that are a real staple of our economy. 

I used to buy their stuff in local specialty markets, but now they have their own location, so you can go straight to the source! 

Flourist’s location, just off of Commercial Drive in East Van, also houses a mill, a cafe, and space for cooking classes and demos. 

Shelves of dried goods

And–oh joy! They sell sourdough starter, too. 

The space itself is super adorbs, and the cafe itself sells, in addition to baked goods made with their flour, lighter meals like salads made with beans, chickpeas, and millet, as well as toasts made with their homemade bread. 

It honestly makes me so happy to witness and be a part of this whole food revolution. I love that people are beginning to understand that convenience food comes at a price, and we’re starting to look back to the eating habits of our ancestors. 

By the way, if you’re gluten free, you may be able to tolerate this kind of bread. The flour it’s made with is less processed and refined, and its genetic footprint is less refined. In addition, sourdough partially ferments the dough, making it easier to digest. 

a plate of cookies

When I was recently at the new Flourist location, checking it out, I tried one of their Chocolate Chip Cookies.  And then, a couple days later, not shockingly, they showed up on this list of where to get the best Chocolate Chip Cookies in Vancouver. 

At Flourist they bake the entire recipe in a big cast iron fry pan and cut it into wedges, so I’ve done that here. You can either bake your own or head over to Commercial Street to buy them. While you’re there, you’re going to want to pick up some bread, flour, and probably some chickpeas, too. 🙂 

Oh–one last thing. All of the packaging at Flourist is recyclable. Your “to go” coffee will come in a mason jar that you pay a deposit on and then either bring back or keep. Pulses are sold in jars as well. The owners, Janna and Shira, are passionate about the local food movement, and Shira is a long-time plant-based advocate and food blogger. So yeah, this is a small local business you can feel good about supporting. 

Wedges of chocolate chip cookies

Especially when the chocolate chip cookies are made with whole grain flour, and they taste this good. 

 

The Power of Food to Heal

The late, great Anthony Bourdain once said “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.”

Part of what I love about food is how it has the ability to bring people together, how it has the ability to quietly dissolve barriers between people who don’t see eye-to-eye. I challenge you to sit down at the table of someone you don’t think you have a lot in common with, and see how much in common you have once you’re done the meal. Eating with someone is a way to explore them–their culture, their dreams, their background. 

Sometimes my love of food takes me to interesting places, and a couple weeks ago, that place was Save On Meats in Vancouver’s DTES. 

Full disclosure: I live not far from here; though far enough west to be in a different postal code. The 4-block radius around Main and Hastings is considered to be the city’s poorest and most challenging neighbourhood. Here you’ll find addiction, homelessness, physical and mental illness, and hunger. 

So when I got an invite from my colleague, Sherri, to go and cook a meal for these folks, I had some anxiety about it. I wasn’t even 100% certain what I was signing up for, but I had a free Monday night, and it sounded like an interesting adventure, and a way to use my cooking skills for good and not evil (my friends are complaining I’m trying to make them fat). 

So I showed up at Save On Meats at 5 pm on a Monday night (and was grateful I knew a few of the other volunteers) and met Ash MacLeod, one of the co-owners (the other is Mark Brand). He explained that Save-On is a social enterprise, part profit-driven restaurant, part charity. Through their Better Life Foundation, they serve about 1,000 meals per day to residents of the DTES, primarily to those living in local SROs. 

He talked about the importance of community, and how isolating it is to deal with issues of addiction and poverty. We were there as part of the Plenty of Plates initiative, which invites local residents into the restaurant and then serves them a 3-course meal for free. While there certainly are lots of soup kitchens and charities that hand out food to local residents, some have an agenda (often a religious one), and few, if any, offer them a social experience in which to enjoy the food. Going to a restaurant to eat is something many of these people almost never get an opportunity to do. 

Sherri Sadler fundraised $3000 so that we could do this that night. Save-On has developed recipes that manage to get the menu down to $3.50 per person, and the entire thing is staffed and run by volunteers. Save-On donates the space, and all the drinks. 

There were about 20 of us, and we quickly divided ourselves into front- and back-of-the-house staff. We started at 5 pm with nothing, and were ready for service by 7:30 pm. 

The menu consisted of salmon croquettes (I believe the salmon was donated) with a dill aioli, a chicken alfredo pasta, and a scratch-made chocolate cake with a berry sauce and whipped cream. 

In all honesty, I spent a lot of the evening hiding out in the kitchen, but I really enjoyed creating with and getting to know the other volunteers. If I did this again, I think I’d try to do more serving and get a chance to know the guests a little more. 

I think there is often a perception of “us” against “them.” But the reality is, we could easily be them. We live in an extremely expensive city. Lose your job, without the right supports in place, you or I could end up in a similar situation. Compassion is the key. They’re people. We’re people. And food is the bridge. 

For more information, please visit: abetterlifefoundation.

 

 

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