In Support of Kūkŭm Kitchen & Chef Joseph Shawana

Over the past week, there’s been heated discussion in the news and on social media about a petition that was started by Toronto resident Jennifer Matos, regarding the serving of seal meat at Kūkŭm Kitchen in Toronto. Kūkŭm Kitchen is a great customer of ours, so this issue is of interest to us.

The Context

Matos started this petition because she felt it was unethical to serve commercial seal meat and wanted Kūkŭm Kitchen to stop serving it. Yet, as others have pointed out, Matos has seemingly not targeted one of the other sixteen thousand nine hundred and thirty-four other restaurants serving meat. Some of the supporters of Matos’s petition began to give Kūkŭm Ktichen poor ratings online because of the petition.

Aylan Couchie, a writer and artist from Nipissing First Nation started a counter petition to point out that targeting one of four Indigenous owned restaurants in Toronto and not any others is anti-Indigenous, especially given the detrimental effect anti-sealing campaigns have had on Inuit peoples culture and livelihoods.

So, how exactly is the original petition anti-Indigenous?

Couchie and settler food historian, Ian Mosby, published a very thoughtful piece in the Globe and Mail that discusses how food has been a major tool in the Canadian colonial project against Indigenous nations more broadly. For the Inuit nations, seal-hunting has been a particularly contentious issue in their continuing struggle against colonialism. Therefore, Couchie & Mosby argue that by targeting Kūkŭm and insisting that seal-hunting remain a subsistence activity for Inuit people enforces the idea that all Indigenous nations must remain in the past. Not to mention, thinking the seal-hunting business is subsistence only is also historically inaccurate: the commercial seal industry has existed in Canada for well over a hundred years.

For those interested in learning further about the issue, Couchie & Mosby recommend watching the 2016 documentary film made by Inuk filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril called Angry Inuk. It is available to watch on iTunes Canada.

Kūkŭm Kitchen’s Stance

Chef Joseph Shawana, who owns and operates Kūkŭm Kitchen, is from Wikwemkoong Unceded Reserve on Manitoulin Island. Chef Shawana chose to serve seal meat in a seal tartare dish to honour Inuit culture and support their livelihoods. In an interview with the CBC on As It Happens, Chef Shawana stood by his decision to serve seal meat and explained that he feels Matos petition stems from misinformation.

Chef Shawana and the team at Kūkŭm did their due diligence and researched their menu extensively before their launch. They source their seal meat from SeaDNA in Canada, a company that adheres to Canada’s strict guidelines for commercial seal hunting and prioritizes creating products that use the whole seal. In fact, because of improved guidelines for the industry, seal populations in Canada have skyrocketed in the past forty years. Seals are not considered in any way to be an endangered species (and contrary to what Matos’ original petition leads one to believe, it is illegal for the commercial hunt to kill seal pups in Canada).

At 100km Foods, we take the sourcing of food very seriously. We commend Chef Shawana and his team at Kūkŭm Kitchen for their ethical standards and completely support him in his decision to continue serving seal meat at his establishment.

By: Genrys Goodchild

The Future Is Fresh – Lake Erie Farms Sow and Tell

The Future Is Fresh

It has been an unusual summer for us in Southern Ontario, that’s for certain. The rapid changes and unexpected weather patterns kept all of us on our toes!

But the last few days have noticeably grown shorter, the leaves are finally turning, and the wind is cool. This past week has been one of the final weekx for field greens, and it’s a busy time for menu changes, as we are now all looking towards greenhouse greens to see us through the winter months.

One of our longstanding greenhouse growers is Lake Erie Farms based in Norfolk County, and that’s why we’ve chosen to feature them for this month’s Sow and Tell!

What’s on sale?

localfood, ontario, ontag, agriculture, lakeerie, 100kmfoods

Both their Salanova and Boston Lettuce blends are on sale for all deliveries next week, from October 24th to the 27th. These blends, if you haven’t tried them, are unbelievably tender, juicy, fresh and a little sweet. As Lake Erie says themselves, “ Salanova® will outperform baby spinach, baby arugula and artisan lettuce in taste, mass-volume, loft and shelf life.”

They work amazingly well in salads, sandwiches, and as lettuce wraps (you may have had their Boston lettuce as part of the Bo Ssäm at Momofuku!). They are packaged as vibrant root balls, which ensures absolute peak freshness and a good storage life.

History of Lake Erie Farms

Lake Erie Farms, like many of those that we work with, is a third generation family owned operation. The Ashbaugh family began farming in the late 1920s, and in those days they primarily grew tobacco and owned a series of farms across the region. In time, much like the Gervais family at Barrie Hill Farms, they decided to phase out of the tobacco business and diversify their operations.

localfood, ontag, farm, fields, 100kmfoods, greenhouse

In 2002, they established their first greenhouse operation and began growing cucumbers. In 2008, they sold off their final tobacco crop. Over the years, they have expanded cucumber production and began growing lettuces. Their CEO, Trish Fournier, began with Lake Erie in January 1999, and has been the CEO of the company since 2006.

Challenges and Motivations of Local Food in Ontario

localfood, ontag, greenhouse, agriculture, greens, salad, sustainability

I spoke to Trish over the phone about Lake Erie and her role within the operation, and we discussed some of the challenges and motivations to growing local in Ontario. Trish, like many of our other growers, feels their biggest challenge is competing with imports, especially when it’s field products from Mexico. Pressures come from all sides for Ontario greenhouse operations – be it higher labour costs, rising hydro and energy rates, or packaging costs.

Trish and the team at Lake Erie work very hard to innovate and compete with imports. They prioritize energy efficiency, and have upgraded of their greenhouses with LED lights and have purchased generators to take one greenhouse off-grid. They recycle their water and carbon dioxide gets cycled back in to be fed to their plants. They are currently undergoing another energy audit to determine more ways to keep their operation as efficient as possible!

Despite the challenges they face, Trish is very passionate about local food and local food production. As she said herself, local food is fresher and harvested at peak for optimal flavour and reduces enormous amounts of pollution from transportation. She loves that they are based in Norfolk County, which is known as one of the produce hubs in Ontario. She highlighted how excellent it is that local restaurants purchase from them creating more jobs for residents, who in turn, reinvest their dollars back into the community.

man, greenhouse, worker

Why is 100km Foods a great fit?

Trish believes that 100km Foods is an excellent fit as their distributor in Toronto and the GTA. As she pointed out, on either end of the chain both producers and restaurants have an interest in selling and purchasing greater amounts of local food. The most challenging piece is the link in the middle – the distribution. Farmers and Chefs alike do not always have the time or resources to coordinate sales, especially on the scale needed to build a local food economy. To Trish, that has a province wide impact because we then rely on bringing in more imports to meet food demands. Distribution may not be as glamourous as growing food or showcasing it in restaurants, but it’s absolutely a crucial piece of the puzzle!

So as you’re planning and sourcing for your menu changes, take advantage of the sale on Lake Erie Salanova and Boston lettuce this week and test them out! You will not be disappointed. The promotion runs from October 24th to October 27th!

Thank you so much to Trish for providing information and the photos used in this blog post!

By: Genrys Goodchild

Instagram Contest: Celebrate Local Food Month

Celebrate Local Food Month!

local food, edible flowers, instagram contest

September is Local Food Month for 100km Foods! To celebrate the veritable bounty of local food offerings available for this month, we are launching our first ever Instagram contest!!

It’s pretty simple: post a picture on your Instagram of a dish crafted by your team that features local food ingredients from at least 4 different categories (please see the full breakdown below in the guidelines).

Follow us, tag us in the photo @100kmfoods and use the hashtag #100kmfoodscontest for your team’s chance to win a $200 voucher for a farm-to-table restaurant near you!

We encourage you to share your post far and wide, as the winner will be randomly selected from the top five entries with the most likes!

The contest runs from September 6th, 2017 until September 30th, 2017 – so you have almost the entire month to come up with your dish. We’re super excited to see how your team shows off the September bounty available from 100km Foods!!

Please review the full contest rules below:

  • To be eligible to participate in this contest, your team must hold an account with 100km Foods and be located in Ontario, Canada.
  • The entry dish has to feature ingredients from at least FOUR (4) of the following categories:

Vegetables

Fruits

Greens

Dairy/Eggs

Cheese

Dry Goods (includes honey, vinegars, oils, flours, etc)

Meat & Fish

  • To submit your team entry, be sure to follow 100km Foods on Instagram, tag us in the photo, and use the hashtag #100kmfoodscontest.
  • Only 1 entry per team.
  • The contest runs from September 6th 2017 through to September 30th
  • After the contest ends, the winner will be randomly selected from the 5 entries with the most likes.
  • The winning team will be contacted by email from info@100kmfoods.com
  • We will post the winning dish on all our social media channels!

Disclaimer: This contest is in no way affiliated with Instagram.

Beautiful Blues – Barrie Hill Farms Sow and Tell

Who loves blueberries?! We do!

A few weeks ago, our staff was overjoyed to learn that the Highbush Fresh Blueberries were ready from Barrie Hill Farms. First order of business: ensure we ordered in an extra 3L container in time for a staff meeting.

However, when it came time for the staff meeting, there was a slight kerfuffle when we briefly thought we had forgotten to order in that extra 3L. Things got straightened out very quickly, and Brynn, our receiving manager, rustled up the elusive blues, placing them triumphantly on the conference table.

We then, as a team, joyfully descended on the blueberries:

As you can see, 100km Foods really, really loves the Highbush Blueberries. And we also are very proud to work with Barrie Hill Farms!

Hence, it was a no-brainer for us to feature the highbush blueberries on sale for all deliveries next week – from August 22nd to August 25th 2017 – as part of this next instalment of the Sow & Tell series featuring Barrie Hill Farms!

Barrie Hill Farms

Barrie Hill Farms is operated by Morris Gervais – who – if you haven’t had a chance to meet him yet, is a very nice fellow and a huge advocate for strengthening local food and agriculture!

Barrie Hill Farms is located in Springwater, Ontario and was originally purchased by Morris’ parents – Adrien and Evelyn Gervais. They operated it as a tobacco farm from 1968 until 1979. Eventually, Adrien and Evelyn wanted to move away from the tobacco business which is why, in 1977, they began growing strawberries, followed by blueberries, raspberries and asparagus. These crops continue to make up their wholesale offerings today.

Nowadays, they have 40 acres of blueberry fields, making it one of the largest highbush blueberry farms in Ontario!

Stewards of the Land

Barrie Hill is one of the farms we work with who has gotten their Land Food People (or Local Food Plus) certification. Although the program has since been retired, the acronym “LFP” indicates that these products are still guaranteed certified.

Farms which met the certifications for LFP demonstrated that they engage in environmentally sustainable growing practices, work hard to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, engage in wildlife habitat preservation and lastly, aim to contribute towards a robust local food economy.

Barrie Hill also:

  • Does not use any genetically modified crops
  • Adheres to an integrated pest management control program, much like Sovereign or Davids. This means they plant cover crops and use crop rotation, only spraying their crops with low-risk pesticides when absolutely necessary
  • Maintains an Environmental Farm Plan
  • Prioritize water conservation through drip irrigation systems
  • Maintains stringent operating procedures to guarantee food safety standards with GAP Canada.

Community Activities

Barrie Hill is also big on family fun & community activities! As Morris says, they offer “country hospitality and fresh food.” Their farm is a well established pick your own facility (beginning in 1977), so it’s a great way to connect young kids to farm life. In fact, some families who visit their farm remember berry picking when they themselves were kids. Barrie Hill also hosts community festivals, including a strawberry harvest festival and an annual blueberry pancake festival with the proceeds going to charitable / non profit foundations and initiatives!

So, do you want to feature some of the best blueberries in Canada and wow your customers?

If that’s a ‘yes’ (and we’re certain it is!) now is your opportunity, since the Highbush Blueberries are on sale for all deliveries next week – August 22nd to the 25th! These blueberries are best stored in a shallow, well ventilated container. They have a shelf life of up to one week and should be washed just before serving.

Also – enjoy this video featuring Morris and Barrie Hill Farms, shot and produced by 100km Foods last year as part of a “Meet Our Producers” video series! In it, Morris talks a bit more about the challenges facing farmers in local food:

Many thanks to Morris & the team at Barrie Hill for the information & featured image photo!

By: Genrys Goodchild

Introducing the new owners of Sovereign Farms and the latest in our Sow and Tell series!

Who are the new owners of Sovereign Farms?

This past year, Brenda and Wes Sovereign from Sovereign farms retired from farming and the farm is now under new ownership! We wanted to thank Brenda and Wes for their years of partnership with 100km Foods producing greenhouse tomatoes, as well as many varieties of zucchini, peppers, and beans!

We also wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to the new owners of Sovereign Farms and share their story, and that’s why we think they are a perfect fit for this month’s Sow and Tell series.

For deliveries July 18th through to July 21st, their grape tomatoes and mosaic mix are on sale! You can find these in the ‘sale’ category on the website.

So, who are the new owners of Sovereign Farms?

Debbie Scheeringa has always been passionate about horticulture, and it was a long-held dream of hers to someday run a family farm. A few years ago, Debbie and her husband Shane began searching for farms in the Southern Ontario region. It was around this time that Brenda and Wes Sovereign, who have been farmers for many years, decided it was time to sell their farm and retire.

Debbie and Shane were viewing at a recreational horse farm near Sovereign when their realtor mentioned offhand a farm nearby that might be of interest to them. They connected with Wes and Brenda, and a natural fit was found. Debbie and Shane liked the idea of an established farm, and it was important to Brenda to sell their beloved farm and greenhouse operation to a family who wanted to continue to use the land for agricultural production!

farm, greenhouse, ontario, aerial view farm

Debbie, Shane and their two children moved up to Sovereign this past winter. Brenda has been on hand each week to help Debbie and Shane with the transition for this first growing season (when we asked about Wes, they laughed and told us “we think he’s just been catching up on sleep!”). They also employ a team of dedicated, hard working and efficient migrant labourers from Jamaica who have been a tremendous source of support as Debbie and Shane learn more about greenhouses and field crops!

Jason and I went up to visit Sovereign this week to learn more about their current operation, as well as get a sense of their future. By the way – Sovereign Farms will eventually be renamed! We will keep you posted on when that transition happens.

tomato, greenhouse, ontario

Upon arriving at Sovereign, we were greeted by Shadow and Luna, their two friendly dogs. We also got to briefly meet some new kittens. After meeting their kids, Debbie and Shane took us around the greenhouses and the farm. Their energetic young son Nolan also accompanied us on this adventure – he’s a mischievous vegetable lover known to pilfer tomatoes, rhubarb, and zucchini on occasion!

Here’s what we learned:

  • Their main crop is greenhouse tomatoes. These are the grape tomatoes, mosaic, beefsteak, roma, and heirloom tomatoes you all know and love! They’ve faced some challenges in their first season – as mentioned last week – controlling temperatures in the greenhouse has been very tricky. Production has been slower than usual because of the lack of sunlight.
  • Though an older greenhouse, it’s a very efficient facility. Debbie showed us the computer system that monitors the ph levels of the soil, temperature, humidity to maintain optimal growing conditions.
  • The tomatoes are picked by labourers who are seated on little carts that run on tracks between them.
  • Optimal temperature for growing tomatoes is 18-19 degrees celsius! Though we all know about the importance of sunlight, moonlight is also a very important factor in the growth of tomatoes.
  • They use integrated, natural pest control methods for the micro climate of the greenhouse – situated around the greenhouse are mullen plants. Mullen plants are the homes of the parasitoid wasps that keep caterpillar infestations at bay. They do this by laying their eggs into the caterpillar, and once the wasps hatch, they devour the caterpillars from the inside out. Kinda gross, kinda cool, kinda sinister – and very efficient!
  • They also have lots of bumblebee homes in the greenhouse to aid with flower pollination.
  • They also have some field crops – zucchini, beans, and hot peppers!
  • For a relatively small acreage, the farm is very productive!

What can we expect for the future of Sovereign Farms?

Though they are still quite busy getting established in farming, Debbie has many exciting plans for the future of their farm! She is keen to experiment with new varieties and crops that may do well with their soil type and weather patterns. A new variety of zucchini they’ve planted this season is Ishtar zucchini, known for being a light green, sweeter Lebanese variety. Debbie and Shane are also very interested in transitioning towards using even more ecologically minded practices with the aim of ensuring top notch, healthy soil.

Debbie and Shane know that there will be challenges ahead, but they feel excited to meet them. They also noted the generosity of the new farming community they’ve entered. Debbie and Shane both stressed how helpful, enthusiastic, and patient fellow farmers have been in answering questions, helping out, and teaching! Shane told us farmers markets have quickly become a valuable hub for impromptu troubleshooting as challenges arise.

We are really looking forward to continuing to work with Debbie and Shane, and we wish all the best for Brenda and Wes in their retirement! Don’t forget – their grape and mosaic tomatoes are on sale for all deliveries next week! 

Many thanks to Debbie and Shane for hosting us on their farm.

By: Genrys Goodchild

Hail, storms, rainbows and sunshine. All in the same afternoon. What does this mean for the 2017 growing season?

Last summer in Southern Ontario, we had a drought. The yields from that year were affected – some of our farms lost thousands of pounds of potatoes because of it.

This year, we have the opposite problem: weeks of unrelenting torrential downpours and hail storms.

Risks are inherent in any industry, particularly in agriculture. But these extreme weather patterns are predicted to become much more common. In this way, farmers are on the front lines of our changing climate. They know better than most that climate change is not a faraway future – it’s affecting us here and now.

What does it mean we can expect for this growing season? What does it mean long term for chefs and consumers committed to buying locally?

berries, ontario, barriehillfarms, blueberries

How Heavy Rains Affect Growth and Yield

First, lets address what this means for the 2017 growing season. Many of you use the Seasonality Calendar to get a sense of when products should come into season, and how long they’ll be around. We love that you use this tool, by the way!

This year, however, I’ve noticed lots of inquiries because products aren’t coming on as early as they have in seasons past.

When I spoke to farms about it, I noticed a pattern in their answers: the weather has affected growth and yield dramatically. Fields are flooded, hail has partially destroyed field crops, greenhouses are struggling to adjust to the lack of sunlight. Many of the products we’re eagerly awaiting have simply not had the conditions they need to be ready when expected.

I approached a few of our farms to get their perspective on what challenges they’ve been facing.

The New Farm told us that “this has been the most challenging spring weather we’ve experienced in 11 seasons of farming. The cold, wet weather has slowed down the growth of our vegetables and interfered with all the things we need to do to grow and deliver our produce — planting, weeding and harvesting. On rainy days we sometimes can’t work at all, and in the rare dry spells, we have had to work up to 15 hours a day.”

Sovereign Farms let us know that their “fields have had standing water at times but because we have very sandy soil, they aren’t completely waterlogged like some neighbours to the east of us who have more clay soil and are pumping their fields out.

Because its sandy on our farm, we have more erosion and get washed out in places. The soft wet soil prevents us from being able to drive the tractor over the area to rake weeds or plant on time and increased rain has been washing the nutrients down the soil profile much faster.

Lack of sunshine and cooler temperatures has delayed planting, growth and production in our fields, but lately the dark cool weather last week drastically reduced the picking quantities in our greenhouse.

The fluctuations in temperature and higher humidity make it hard to estimate settings and to keep optimum climate in the greenhouse to prevent mold and disease. The gusty winds with these storms has made it very difficult to properly vent our greenhouse as the wind at times has caught our roof vents and caused damage before the sensors can detect and react to the wind speed. This has forced us to limit or lock the vents closed in gusty winds even though it’s a hot day and the sun is shining. We end up babysitting the settings until a storm passes.”

The short answer is: we can expect that certain products may be delayed in when they come on, and that overall, yields might be lower.  Also, farming is really hard.

So what is in store for the rest of the growing season?

We all know predicting weather is a tricky business, and having an accurate forecast each DAY seems to be a tall order. But over all, it’s estimated to be a summer of ‘changeable weather patterns.’ It is unlikely to be as hot and dry for the rest of the summer as last season, and though rainfall is expected to be nearer to normal, it is highly variable region to region. That’s why some of our farms have been more affected than others!

peas, lennoxfarms, localfood, ontario, farmer, dirt, hands

Buying locally long term

Now that you know how 2017 has been and may continue to be affected by the weather, what are the broader implications for purchasing local food?

  • It means that we need to stay connected to how weather patterns are changing over time, to understand what this means for the types of food we can grow and how long those seasons will be.
  • It means that we all need to push ourselves – farmers, distributors, chefs, and consumers alike – to be innovative, to be creative, to be flexible, and to adapt.
  • It means that buying from farms that grow a diversity of crops makes them more resilient to the risks associated with highly variable weather patterns.
  • It means that we must make an impact with our dollars – buy from farms where you know they are caretakers of the land, doing their utmost to regenerate the soil, rather than deplete it.
  • In the end, it means it’s more important than ever to commit to buying locally so that together, we can build a robust, resilient, local food system.

 

By: Genrys Goodchild

Cod fishing, dayboats, Newfoundland, Fogo Island fishing

Canadian fish for Canadians – Introducing Fogo Island Fish

Fogo Island Fish

“The fish is so much cleaner, fresher. The texture – you can still get a beautiful crispy skin, but the flesh has texture but almost melts in your mouth. It’s something I’ve never experienced before.”

That is what Chef Lora Kirk from Ruby WatchCo has to say about the hand-line caught cod from Fogo Island Fish, and this unparalleled quality is a huge reason why we are now partnering with Fogo Island Fish to distribute their cod and cod products!!

Fogo Island is a small island off the northeast coast of Newfoundland & Labrador, located in the Labrador current, so yes, you’re right, that’s not exactly local Ontario product. But as you know, nor are we very close to the ocean! So in terms of being local, Fogo Island Fish is some of the closest ocean caught fish we have access to. It’s ‘Canadian fish, for Canadians.’ We feel strongly that Fogo Island Fish is a perfect fit with the mandate we have at 100km Foods and is why we are so excited to begin distributing their products.

Fogo Island Fish, Cod, Fishers, East Coast, hand line caught cod

History

Fogo Island Fish began as a small pilot project pioneered by Anthony (Tony) Cobb and Janice Thomson, his wife. Tony’s family has been fishing for cod in the waters off the coast of Fogo Island, Newfoundland for the past two hundred years.

In the 1960’s, however, factory fishing changed the game considerably. What is now an oft-repeated story, smaller fishermen using traditional hook-and-line methods were then edged out of cod fishing as a livelihood, not to mention, factory fishing on that scale drastically depleted cod stocks. Tony’s father was one of the fishers who had to quit fishing in the 60’s and start another career to support his family. Thus, Tony is one of the first in eight generations who is not a fisher, though he still maintains a strong connection to Fogo Island and his family history. Since 1992, there has been a moratorium on the cod fishery. A small stewardship fishery remains, but it’s still been difficult for local fishers to once again make a viable living catching cod.

Cod fishing, dayboats, Newfoundland, Fogo Island fishing

Why start Fogo Island Fish?

This is why Tony and Janice wanted to use their understanding of the difficulties faced by the fishers to start Fogo Island Fish as a social enterprise. In the first year of the project, they enlisted thirty-three fishers to partake. This past year, they raised that number to fifty. Here are some reasons why what they do is awesome:

  • The fishers only go out 5 miles from the coast in small day boats, where they catch 500-600 lbs of fresh fish per day, in sight of home.
  • The cod is cold (as in, really cold) water fish – the currents heading down the coast of Labrador are the same that bring icebergs in from Greenland.
  • The fish is caught just once per year (in the fall) which means the fish are at their physiological peak.
  • The cod is caught using hand lines, bled at sea, and flash frozen to maintain peak freshness. Hand lining also means there is no by-catch.
  • Since they are so close to the island, the cod is processed within hours of being caught by cooperatively owned processing facility on Fogo Island. That’s where they filet, debone and package the cod, which employs more people from the island.
  • These products are available to chefs only and come direct from Fogo Island – that means the fishers are paid double the market rates for fish, because there are fewer intermediaries.
  • Any surplus from the enterprise gets reinvested on Fogo Island through the Shorefast Foundation (a federally registered charity).

All of these are reasons to feel good about purchasing the Fogo Island Fish – we feel that their ethical fishing methods, time of year to catch fish, paying the fishers double, creating local processing jobs and commitment to providing the highest quality fish set a benchmark for other to strive for and that’s why they are a great fit for 100km Foods.

Fogo Island Fish, Canadian Cod, Janice Thomson, woman holding fogo island fish box,

Not to mention, the quality and taste is really unlike cod fished from other parts of the world! We will be carrying the whole fillets (deboned and skin-on, 16oz-32oz), cod cheeks, cod tongues, and cod chunks. Please have a quick read below of the thawing instructions:

The Cod Thaw – Fogo Island Instructions

  1. Place the filets on a sheet with towels underneath to soak up any moisture that will accumulate.
  2. Place in fridge to slack thaw, do not cover.
  3. Let the fan in the fridge help dry out the moisture while it slack thaws.
  4. Let thaw under refrigeration for a minimum of 12 hours, changing the towels as needed, at least twice is recommended. Total time to thaw will depend on your fridge and the size of fillets you are working with.
  5. If preferred, scales can easily be removed from the fillet using the back of a Chefs knife.
  6. We recommend leaving the skin on the cod as it helps retain the juices while cooking for a tender moist product.
  7. After thawed, portion to desired size, store in contains with more fresh towels or paper towels.

Aging!! After fish is completely thawed, leave in the fridge a further 12 hours, to properly age the fish. If you age it longer, that is even better.

We can’t wait to see what dishes you come up with using this traditionally, sustainably hand-line caught cod!!

Many thanks to Janice and Tony for providing the pictures and information for this post.

By: Genrys Goodchild

cow vg meats

Canada’s Only Tenderness Tested Beef

Did you know that VG Meats is able to butcher custom cuts of beef and dry age them for you, to your exact specifications? Not only that, they breed their own cattle, raise them, slaughter, and then process them? That kind of traceability is quite unique within the Ontario beef industry! As part of this latest in our Sow and Tell series, their Beef Tenderloin Barrels are on sale! The beef tenderloin barrel is one of the most tender cuts of beef and these ones have chain meat removed to create a uniform piece – making it easy for you to turn into delicious, consistently sized portions (filet mignon, anyone?)! This sale runs for all deliveries from May 2nd 2017 – May 5th  2017.

VG Meats is family owned and operated, with four brothers – Cory, Chad, Kyle and Kevin – at the helm of the operation. Their family roots as butchers extends back generations – their grandpa Cornelius Van Groningen worked as a black market butcher in Amsterdam during WWII, hiding livestock from German troops! In the post war years, Cornelius decided to set out to Canada, where he got back into the butchery industry with a slaughter operation in Simcoe (VG Packers). Cornelius’ oldest son, Wayne, followed in his father’s footsteps by continuing the business. In the mid 1990s, the Van Groningen family decided to branch out from solely running a processing plant to delve into cattle farming.

Fast forward to present day, and the four Van Groningen brothers each bring their unique skill set and expertise to the table in their pursuit of beef perfection. Cory and his wife Heidi run one of the farms, and Cory also spends much of his time representing VG meats and the larger beef industry with officials and at conferences. Chad, second born, leads the butchery and processing plant operations, as well as doing outreach and sales. Kyle oversees all their retail operations both in Stoney Creek and Simcoe, and is the point person between the farm, processing plant, and customer. Last born, Kevin, is the food scientist of the family, and Morgan, his wife, is the marketing lead. Kevin studied agricultural science at Guelph, and he was the one to develop their unique tenderness testing method!

It just so happens, we were up at the VG farm and processing plant this week as part of our farm tours. 100km Foods staff, and a group of excited chefs, got to speak to the Van Groningen brothers, meet the cows and see how they’re cared for. Following that, we went up the road to their processing plant and delved more deeply into tenderness and grading beef.

VG Meats have their own bulls from whom they breed the rest of the herd. They put a big emphasis on developing their own genetic stock because the bulls from their farm are acclimated to Ontario’s environment, and they think this creates a resilient and healthy line of beef cattle. They’ve also spent lots of time developing the best feed for the cows – they are out on pasture and being fed grass most of the year, but during winter months, their diet is supplemented with feed mix with includes corn and other grains. They are constantly learning and innovating best practices to ensure their herd is healthy and happy! Not only do they feel it’s ethically important to have a happy, small herd, but beef quality and taste is affected by stress, so they do all they can to make sure the cows lead stress-free lives. VG Meats bring their cows to slaughter based on weight and condition – but most cows are between the ages of 14 months to 24 months, with a carcass weight of around 800lbs.

Now what’s this tenderness testing all about? Kevin is the mastermind behind their one-of-a-kind grading system. The standard grading system is a visual grading system that looks at fat marbling, and is a holdover from the 1960’s. As Kevin adamantly explained during the tour, agricultural and food science research is moving towards different ways of grading beef, and Kevin has innovated their in-house grading method based off new research. And, as Kevin showed to chefs in the hanging room, you can look at two identical cuts of beef from the same cow and have completely different marbling! So at VG, they want to grade their beef using a different, more reliable metric to determine quality: tenderness.

Below is an infographic that demonstrates their tenderness scale – and they will only put steaks and cuts on the market that fall into the “red zone” of tenderness.

So now’s your chance! Get yourself some of these tenderness tested, Beef Tenderloin Barrel cuts on sale and enjoy some beef where health, herd happiness and taste are of the utmost priority! Offer applicable for all deliveries May 2nd to May 5th, 2017.

Thanks to the Van Groningen family for hosting us for a great farm tour and providing all the information, and thanks to Maegan for providing photos!

By: Genrys Goochild

Milk The Way Nature Intended

Did you know that Sheldon Creek is the only dairy in Ontario making non-homogenized milk, and one of two in all of Canada?! They minimally process it to kill off any harmful bacteria by heating it up to 73 degrees Celsius, for only 16 seconds. This minimal processing allows the natural enzymes needed for easy digestion to remain in the milk – so people who are lactose intolerant can drink & eat their products with no side effects!

This means their whole milk ranges in a high butterfat content depending on the season – between 4% in the summer and 4.5% in the winter. It’s also as fresh as fresh can be: unlike most dairy producers, Sheldon Creek only uses fresh milk from their own herd of cows. From the time of milking to when 100km Foods picks up product it’s often only been 24 hours. So, if you’ve tried any of their products you will understand when we say: Sheldon Creek Dairy is incredibly special and their products are out-of-this-world delicious.

So, you’re in luck because we are featuring Sheldon Creek for this month’s Sow and Tell! For all deliveries next week (March 27th 2017 – March 31st 2017) both brand new products and classic favourites are on sale!!! We’ve added bulk yogurt and labneh, flavoured labnehs, as well as whole and chocolate single serve milks. These are new products we are carrying, so now is an excellent opportunity to try them out! We’re also featuring their kefirs (the plain kefir can be used as an awesome sub for buttermilk), whole milk and chocolate milk in 2L jugs. You can see the full range of on-sale products by clicking the red sale tag on our main website.

We toured Sheldon Creek today, and met with Marianne and her adorable infant son, Wyatt. Marianne helps run the dairy and is a wonderful wealth of knowledge. Marianne’s parents, John and Bonnie Den Haan, own and operate Sheldon Creek Dairy, as well as Haanview Farm (upon which their dairy is located). Marianne is actually the sixth generation dairy farmer in her family!

The Den Haan family farm in Canada began in the 1950’s, when Marianne’s Opa and Oma emigrated from Holland following WWII. They decided on Canada because, at that time, it was being advertised as the “land of milk and honey.” For Dutch dairy farmers, this was a no brainer!

In 1958, they bought their first 4-H dairy cow, Maggie. From there they began breeding dairy cows – 80% of their current herd are descended from Maggie herself. Cows are named after their mothers, so as you walk around the barn, you can see all the “M” named cows and know they are related to that first cow, Maggie. Things have come a long way since then – just a few days ago, John and Bonnie were named master breeders by the Holstein Association of Canada for their herd!

Though they’ve been breeding dairy cows for a long time, they began Sheldon Creek Dairy in 2012 to fill a growing demand for natural, minimally processed whole milk! We really admire how carefully they manufacture milk products to keep it as traditionally made as possible – the yogurt is Marianne’s Oma’s very own recipe. Marianne also explained to us that the strains of bacteria they use to culture the yogurt and kefir are the most traditional they can find – that’s what makes their cultured products so robust both in taste and nutrition.

Marianne and Bonnie work mainly in the dairy, manufacturing, innovating and marketing new products. John and Marianne’s sister, Emily, look after their amazing herd of over 50 dairy cows, as well as grow their feed. In fact, Emily is an animal nutritionist and has worked to grow a perfect blend of feed for lactating cows – silage, some corn, and hay. As Marianne explained, lactating cows have different nutritional needs than other cows who eat just grass or hay – the added corn gives them the carbohydrates needed for them to stay healthy and happy!

The Den Haan family know all of their cows names, faces and distinct personalities. They can actually tell you which cow your milk came from, and that’s almost unheard of in modern dairy production! These cows are a very happy herd – Marianne pointed out that you can tell a cow is happy when she’s chewing her cud. You can see the cud going up and down their throat as it makes its way back and forth between their four stomachs! We watched a cow do this today, and frankly, it’s mesmerizing.

Their cows go outside for a few hours a day during the winter – but as Marianne pointed out – in Canadian winters they’re jostling each other by the barn door impatient to get in after just two hours! They’d much rather be hanging out in their stalls where they can feed and water themselves. Yes, you read that right. A hay robot circles around the barn constantly and each cow has two minutes to grab as much hay as they want (and they have their feed always accessible). Two cows each share one watering bowl which they can fill themselves by hitting the hose with their nose! In the summer, their herd grazes on their lush 600 acres surrounding the dairy.

Marianne is a firm believer in transparency and accountability, and that’s why re-connecting consumers to the farmers who feed them is what motivates her, and the rest of Sheldon Creek, to operate the way they do. They hold educational farm open houses to introduce people to their herd, the dairy and the unique operation they run. They also have a small shop you can go and visit at any time, with an ice cream stand during the warmer months! If you ever get the chance, go by and say hi!

We love working with them, and we value how involved, considerate, and passionate the whole team is at Sheldon Creek. Not to mention, their milk products are damn tasty. So what are you waiting for?! Go order some today!

An enormous thank you goes out to Marianne (and Wyatt) for showing us the ropes, and providing all the information for this promotion.

By: Genrys Goodchild

Tapping for Sweet Sap

This year marks the earliest that the Ennis family has tapped trees in the past thirty years! The early thaw this February took them by surprise, and they had to make haste to get tapping before the weather turned cold again. It takes them about five days to get everything ready for tapping – they were set up by March 1st. This weekend is the final weekend for tapping, and now they are working hard on boiling the sap into the syrup we know and love.

Working so closely with farmers and producers means we have the pulse on the ways climate change is already affecting our forests and farmlands. Unexpected, early thaws are one way that we can see the weather patterns are changing. This is why buying local is so important! The more robust our local food economy is, the better farmers and producers can adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change.

Personally, I’m a maple syrup addict, so I am pretty happy that Martin Ennis and his family were able to catch the sap before it was gone! Did you know that Martin’s kids are the 5th generation to be making maple syrup on the Ennis family farm? They are able to tap some of the same trees that Martin’s great grandfather, James Ennis, was tapping during WW2! Pictured below is his daughter Jessica, collecting sap and bottling it.

Martin's daughter, Jessica, collects syrup

Tapping for sap and boiling it into syrup and sugar is an intense process, requiring all hands on deck to move quickly. From what I understand of tapping and boiling sap, timing is everything. Nothing can be left unattended even for a short time, that’s how fast paced the flurry of activity is!

There are also more sustainable methods for tapping trees – maples are able to heal over openings if they are done correctly (they form a clear glue/sap-like substance over the holes). It’s also a good idea to rotate the trees you tap every few years in order to relieve some of the older maples.

Wood evaporator
Wood evaporator

The Ennis family uses other methods to ensure they have a low-carbon impact. They actually bought the first high-efficiency wood evaporator in Ontario for a mid-sized maple farm, pictured above! This way they can use wood fuel from dead trees on their farm instead of using oil. They also have a reverse osmosis machine that removes up to 75% of the water from the sap before they begin boiling it to syrup. This handy machine means they only burn 25% of the wood they would use otherwise, and they can make up to 700L using only one cord of wood! This wood evaporator is nicknamed “The Beast” for good reason!

The grades of syrup they produce – Golden Delicate, Amber-Rich & Dark-Robust – contain the same sugar content at 66.5 brix.

Soon we’ll have a new batch of fresh syrup in from Ennis Maple, and we’re so excited!

Also – don’t forget – we carry Sapsucker as well! This subtle, sweet, clear delicious maple water is a beautiful addition to a meal as a standalone beverage, or can be used in unique ways in cocktails, for a truly Canadian beverage!

By: Genrys Goodchild