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100km Foods Chef Profile – Lora Kirk, Ruby Watchco

female chef with tattoos standing with arms folded in a kitchen

For the next installment in our Chef ambassador series, we sat down with Chef Lora Kirk. Lora is chef & co-owner of Ruby Watchco in Toronto. Chef Lora has an impressive culinary resume, having worked as a chef internationally for over fifteen years – including working with Gordon Ramsey and Angela Hartnett at the Connaught Hotel!

Lora is another amazing local food advocate who has a long history and strong relationship with 100km Foods. She and her wife, Lynn, opened Ruby Watchco ten years ago and have been sourcing through 100km since its opening. For Lora, she was drawn to pursue a career as a chef in part because of her profound connection to food and the land through her family. Lora’s parents had a hobby farm, and her grandparents were farmers just outside of Peterborough, ON. From a young age, they instilled within Lora a love and appreciation of being in nature, harvesting food, and cooking meals from scratch using ingredients they grew themselves. Having grown up with such an intimate familiarity with all things food, it was a really natural fit for Lora to become a chef.

There are two things that keep Lora passionate and motivated in her career as a chef: sharing in the joy and delight as her daughters, Addie Pepper and Gemma Jet, try different foods for the first time. And the other: working with great farmers and growers. As Lora says, ‘surrounding yourself with good people (…) pushes you forward.’

As mentioned, Lora has been sourcing through 100km Foods for almost as long as 100km has existed. Lora appreciates that 100km does ‘a lot of the leg work for you.’ The legitimacy 100km Foods offers (since we are able to connect with the farmers directly and guarantee the products are local) provides the comfort and safety of knowing with certainty you’re getting what you think you’re getting. 100km Foods also partners with farms who not only have great stories, but also grow great products. For Lora, these connections continuously inspire her to craft something spectacular with the ingredients.

Female chef peeling a purple carrot

Sourcing local, planning seasonal

We were really eager to pick Lora’s brain about sourcing local and planning seasonal menus. She encourages chefs to think deeply about what you want to cook with, and why. She likens being a chef nowadays to being a kid in a candy store – you can order ‘anything, from anybody, from anywhere. That doesn’t mean the quality is going to be the greatest.’ For Lora, she prioritizes sourcing locally, because then she knows where the product is coming from and because ‘if I’m going to support someone, I want to support someone in my community.’ Back when Lora and Lynn were opening Ruby Watchco, they chose to prioritize local because it made sense with their decision to frequently change the menu. They didn’t do it to be trendy: they did it because they intuitively understood that the relationship building fostered through sourcing from local farms nurtures a small restaurant business. However, she emphasizes that there needs to be a level of legitimacy behind it and the quality of ingredient that she looks for. Simply branding something ‘local’ isn’t enough.

She has two other crucial points to make. First, once that product is in your door, you need to ‘use every last peeling’ and be smart about how you use it, store it, and plan with it. Second, ‘good chefs are good problem solvers,’ so she urges other chefs to pay attention to how the growing season is progressing. Some years will be great for certain kinds of crops, and some years won’t. If you pay attention to how the season is trending, you can push yourself to be creative when things may not go as planned. Like the other chefs we’ve spoken to, Lora cites the seasonality calendar as a useful tool, as well as the new growing forecast emails we send out monthly. This proactive information we provide is something other suppliers are unlikely to do, where the best you’ll get when you ask if a product is available is simply, ‘no.’

There’s something special about Fogo Island Cod

When we turned to some of Lora’s favourite products she sources, and she said her current favourite is the hand-line caught cod from Fogo Island Fish. For those who may not know, Lora was able to spend time in Fogo Island with Tony and Janice and has gone out to catch the cod with the fishers – which you can read about here. The product is great, and the story is so special. Her other favourites include The New Farm greens. These greens are more than just greens. Lora says they are also extraordinary because of the work Brent and Gil are doing and how they’re changing agriculture to adapt to climate change. She also loves carrots from Gwillimdale Farms, saying they sometimes ‘can be the sweetest carrots I’ve ever had.’

chef peeling a purple carrot

We asked Lora her favourite meals to cook. Her answer was straight the to the point: ‘anything with eggs!’. Lora and Lynn both are big egg eaters at home, and that’s also one of Addie Pepper’s favourites (she may be young but she’s already learning to crack eggs one handed!). Poached, scrambled, omelette, you name it, they love it. Another one of her favourite late-night meals is pasta, bacon and scrambled eggs with hot sauce. Lora also loves working with the espelette peppers from St. David’s, and always makes time to smoke them and make a huge batch of hot sauce.

Who would Lora share a meal with?

Now, the question that has stumped everyone thus far – who would Lora eat with, dead or alive? After much deliberation, Lora settled on a very beautiful answer: her great-grandmother and her babka (grandma). She only was able to meet her great-grandmother once when she was thirteen, and because of the second world war, her babka was separated from her great-grandmother at a very young age. Lora’s babka is a fantastic cook, and so was her great-grandmother, so she would love to sit down with them to share a dinner, three generations of women who made magic with food.

female chef smiling in kitchen

If Lora wasn’t a chef, she thinks she would have gone either one of two ways: back to her roots as a farmer (probably raising ducks, chickens or rabbits, which is what her parents raised) or a photographer. That being said, Lora loves what she does as a chef. She considers herself a giving person and wants to pay forward the care and dedication that the farmers showed by growing these products in a way that resonates with diners. There are many who come to Ruby Watchco who want to learn, and having a great team that is knowledgeable, passionate and excited to share with diners is just one way to realize Lora’s vision.

We had a wonderful time sitting down with Lora (and meeting the newest addition to their family, baby Gemma Jet!). Lora has a lot of wisdom and expertise born from her own family history and her extensive culinary experience, and we feel truly lucky to have had such excellent support from her over the years. She is an amazing champion and advocate of the local food movement, and it was an absolute no-brainer to have her be part of our fantastic ambassadors!

Written By: Genrys Goodchild

Photos by: Sara May

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100km Foods Chef Profile – Matt Simpson, Constantine

100km Foods and Chef Matt Simpson

Chef Matt would be the first to tell you he became a chef somewhat by accident. He got his first job working at a Kelsey’s in the dish pit and doing prep when he was a young teenager. He kept up with that job all throughout high school, and when he graduated, he made some forays into different areas: for a time he studied to be an electrician, and then business. He had a light bulb moment where he realized he’d been working in kitchens for years and had always enjoyed it, especially as he began to learn how to cook entirely from scratch. He finally thought: maybe I should be doing this as a career?! Matt’s father encouraged him to complete a post-secondary education, so he enrolled in George Brown for culinary arts. After he finished the program, he moved from Whitby to Toronto to work in restaurants, and hasn’t looked back since. 

As Matt puts it, working in the restaurant business isn’t for the faint of heart: ‘It’s a really daunting business, it can be really long days and it can be really easy to get kind of down in the dumps.’ What keeps him passionate in such a demanding job? He says at the end of the day, it’s about the people, and there are two sides to that. On the one hand, it’s gratifying to look out on the dining room and see your guests enjoying their meals. On the other, you also get to meet the people growing your food. Their passion, Matt feels, invigorates and renews him in turn. Matt is also one of the biggest fans of the Meet and Greet we host annually for Chefs and Farmers, an opportunity he appreciates to deepen connections. We see him there every year without fail! 

Tall, bearded male chef wearing an apron and standing in restaurant with arms folded.

Matt Simpson’s relationship with 100km Foods is very special one. How does he source local products and plan his menus?

We also asked Matt specifically about his long relationship with 100km Foods, since as he says himself ‘you guys have a special place in my heart.’ Matt wasn’t one of those who grew up with a strong food history. He doesn’t have a lot of nostalgia or familial food memories that guide many other chefs. Instead, he has come to be a locavore through years of learning in kitchens and building relationships with farmers, and he feels 100km Foods has been a huge component in bridging that gap. When he’s choosing ingredients, he frames it this way: if he were travelling, what would he look for when he is eating out? A dish that gives him a sense of place, even if it’s a specific style of cuisine from another part of the world. At Constantine, Matt has a unique opportunity to do just that. It is a hotel that has a Mediterranean menu, but he infuses the cuisine with Ontario ingredients to showcase the terroir of Southern Ontario. It’s exciting and creates endless possibilities to be creative. 

We turned then to the subject of sourcing local, and how to build a seasonal menu. Matt was firm on this: It’s not just about the idealistic picture of a farmer painstakingly harvesting to order, because sometimes that doesn’t always translate to high-quality ingredients chefs look for. It’s about both knowing the story and the traceability 100km Foods provides, as well as the guarantee that the products are excellent. When it comes to planning seasonally, Matt makes a great point: if you are attuned to the seasons in Ontario and plan accordingly, prices will be competitive. And if you find strawberries in the winter that aren’t super expensive, Matt thinks we need to start asking the hard questions: ‘Why isn’t it? Why wouldn’t something that’s grown (…) and then flown halfway across the continent be more expensive? Shouldn’t it be more expensive?’  

That being said, he’s happy that today’s diner is more educated about how we source and grow our food, and they are the ones asking questions. Matt is more than happy to tell them the story of the farmers who grew what’s on their plate. He has other great advice for chefs: if you’re paying a premium for vegetables, make them the star of the plate. If you have the room and the means, buy whole animals and serve off cuts to keep your pricing in line. Since traceability is Matt’s #1 priority for sourcing, he makes sure that this translates to the back of house and the front of house staff, who can convey this to the guest. He isn’t exaggerating when he can say ‘I know the name of the farmers who grew this food’ and that is the kind of connection he wants, and one that he sees being appreciated more and more by guests. He says himself: ‘I want to live in a world where the little things matter.’ 100km Foods makes planning seasonally and sourcing local even easier, he says, since at any time he can ask us questions or use the seasonality calendar to help him plan ahead.  

What are some of Matt’s FAVOURITE products from 100km Foods?

We asked Matt for some of his favourite products he sources through 100km. Without hesitation, he said ‘New Farm Greens.’ He can still remember the first time he tried them, thinking, oh it’s a handful of lettuce. He was blown away by them and said ‘you don’t even need dressing, it’s SO GOOD.’ We absolutely agree! Matt also loves k2 Milling saying that anything Mark Hayhoe touches is ‘gold to me.’ He loves the Algonquin grits, even making sure he has his own supply of k2 products in his kitchen at home! He also loves the Welsh Brothers sweet corn, citing it as ‘amazing.’ Lastly, he rhapsodized about the Highland Blue from Back Forty Artisan Cheese, saying it was one of his favourites (ours too!).  

Naturally, we turned then to discussing what his favourite meals are to cook, to which Matt said ‘anything over live fire.’ Even simple, good ingredients can be turned into something awesome over the grill – asparagus with a little salt and pepper and steak being one of his go-to’s. He also loves making things in a terrine, or different kinds of paté. He really enjoys cooking for family and friends, and hosts a lot of dinner parties in his home.  

Tall bearded male chef standing in pass of restaurant kitchen, cooking utensils in background.

Next, the hard question. When we asked Matt who he’d have dinner with, dead or alive, he couldn’t settle on one person. His first pick is Geddy Lee from Rush, because he’s a big foodie and eats in Toronto restaurants, and Matt thinks it would be awesome. He’d also love to eat with Alton Brown. And Paul McCartney. And George Harrison! 

If it wasn’t clear by now, Matt’s second great love is music. If he wasn’t working as a Chef, he definitely thinks he’d want to do something with music. Matt’s father is a musician and instilled within Matt a good ear for music and a deep appreciation for it. 

We loved sitting down with Matt to listen to him talk to us about local food. He’s knowledgeable and deeply committed to the ethos of 100km Foods – he truly walks the walk. We’re lucky to have always had such a great supporter in him, and we are thrilled to have him on board as one of our awesome ambassadors! 

Written By: Genrys Goodchild

Pictures By: Sara May

Shrimp, perfected: Introducing Planet Shrimp!

Introducing Planet Shrimp!

You asked for it, and here it is: Planet Shrimp is now available through 100km Foods!!

Making ethical choices when purchasing seafood can be a tricky beast. At this point, it’s not news that climate change portends big changes for our oceans. Business as usual just won’t cut it for much longer. Innovative inland operations like Planet Shrimp are one way in which we can all move forward and continue to consume the foods we love, but in a far more sustainable way.

picture of shrimp on a fork with the planet shrimp logo

The State of Shrimp

Right now, North America consumes 1.8 billion pounds of shrimp, with the vast majority (over 90%) being imported. Around the globe, Pacific White Shrimp is the most widely consumed, and is the same species grown by Planet Shrimp. Mainstream shrimp production involves outdoor ponds in hot and humid climates. Most of the worlds supply of shrimp is farmed from Asia, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico and parts of South America. For many reasons, these nations do not have the environmental and labour regulations we have in Canada.

All farmers know: losing a crop due to disease can have devastating financial consequences. Outdoor shrimp ponds are particularly susceptible to numerous sources of pathogens and contaminants. Because of this, shrimp farms typically use a high number of pesticides and fungicides as well as hormones and antibiotics in the shrimp feed to prevent devastating diseases like White Spot and Early Mortality Syndrome.

Then there’s the labour and human rights issues associated with commercial shrimp farms overseas. This has gotten a lot of press the past few years, and unfortunately, things do not appear to have substantively changed. If you’re interested in learning more about the human rights abuses rife within the fishing industry, check out the Human Rights Watch report from January 2018 “Hidden Chains: Rights Abuses and Forced Labour in Thailand’s Fishing Industry.”

So, what sets Planet Shrimp apart?

Much like Fogo Island Fish, Planet Shrimp is a company that is founded on values of environmental, social and corporate responsibility.  It differs from mainstream shrimp farms in crucial ways. As Marvyn Budd, one of the owners of Planet Shrimp says, “Planet Shrimp’s model for shrimp farming represents everything outdoor farming isn’t! We farm indoors and therefore control the environment eliminating 100% of the natural causes of disease from affecting our shrimp.”

uncooked, whole shrimp in a row on a white surface

Planet Shrimp farms in pure and clear water containing natural ocean salt, using a UV and ozone filtration system that recirculates the water every 90 minutes, neutralizing any potential bacteria. The little shrimps are fed every half hour, 24 hours a day. They also cavort in waters calibrated to stay a balmy 30 degrees Celsius, ensuring they are delighted and well-fed. Budd likens this to living in a “shrimp spa!”

Another bonus: since the water Planet Shrimp uses is pathogen free they can use a much lower salinity than is typical for other shrimp operations, which lends itself to a clearer shrimp taste (rather than salt water!).

The shrimp are harvested daily and processed very quickly. It takes less than eight minutes to have them frozen whole and packaged.

All these factors go into producing some of the cleanest, tastiest shrimp you can get, possessing a delicately sweet flavour and a firm bite that chefs and restaurant customers alike will love. Planet Shrimp is also a certified FeastOn Purveyor and OceanWise certified! We have both the frozen large and jumbo shrimp available. We can’t wait to see what you do with it!

gif of kristen bell eating a shrimp wearing a pink shirt

An enormous thank you to the folks at Planet Shrimp, particularly to Marvyn Budd who provided a wonderful depth of information and Shannon Quinn for the pictures!

By: Genrys Goodchild

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Not Your Average Egg

Eggs categorized as ‘Free Run’ have surged in popularity over the past few years, as Canadian consumers learn more about our food systems. Animal rights activists have done a great job in getting consumers to think about the ethics regarding the conditions behind the food they purchase and consume, especially when it comes to dairy and eggs.

This is excellent! At 100km Foods, we really value transparency and traceability, and we’ve carefully vetted our meat, dairy and egg producers to ensure the animals are treated with care and dignity.

But things have shifted somewhat. As the term ‘free run’ became something consumers look for when purchasing eggs, the bigger, corporate controlled farms also wanted to cash in on the ethical impulse behind consumer purchases. Now, you can find free-run eggs in almost any grocery store. image of orange and brown eggs in a carton on a dark countertop

What makes Homestead Eggs different?

So what makes the Free Run eggs from Homestead a cut above the rest? Why can’t you find their eggs in any of the big retailers and grocery store chains?

We spoke to Pat White at Homestead Farm about what free run really means for her eggs, she gave us great insight. Homestead has been our long-time farm partner at 100km Foods. Homestead is both a small grading station and has a flock of their own, in operation since 1983. They also source from neighbouring Amish and Mennonite farm communities nearby.

The major difference with these Free Run eggs is that they come from small flocks that receive a high level of care. Like, REALLY small flocks. In total, Homestead sources eggs from only 55 different flocks with hundreds of birds. With larger free-run egg farmers, they have flocks easily numbering in the thousands.

Pat (who has developed personal relationships with the farmers she sources from) also pointed out that in many of these rural communities, looking after the chicken flocks and selling the eggs is a job that often falls to women. In fact, for some of these women, it is one of their only sources of income to buy groceries and other necessities for their family. Flocks tend to frighten very easily, which can disrupt their laying patterns. Since these flocks are an essential part of these farmers livelihoods, they want to make sure the hens keep laying. They take great care to ensure their flocks are kept calm, happy, and cared for.

picture of a hen in a grassy barn

What else sets them apart?

Homestead is also a very small grading station that uses less automated machinery with a more involved approach. They have various employees at different stations along the line, all of them paying close attention to any imperfections. There’s even someone who has a special light they shine on each and every egg to detect any interior imperfections! This kind of care and detail oriented attention to grading means Homestead grades 50 cases an hour, as opposed to the big guys who grade up to 400 cases an hour. And even though they might grade a little slower, they make up for it in the absolutely top notch quality of all their eggs.

This is why we have adjusted the description on Homestead’s Free Run eggs. They aren’t just average eggs you can find in any grocery store – they truly are ‘Small-Flock.’

By: Genrys Goodchild

100km Restaurant Picks Spring/Summer 2018!

Where have we loved eating these days? Let’s keep it 100km!

We are so spoiled working in the local food industry in Toronto & the GTA. With 100km distributing to over 450 restaurant locations (yes, we can’t believe it!!), there is basically no end to the incredible restaurants our staff are lucky enough to eat at. Here are some of the 100km Staff Picks of great restaurants – restaurants who are Keepin’ it 100(km) by sourcing local.

Where We Went

Grace and Paul ‘s Pick  Kojin (Toronto) – Chef Paula Navarrete

“We were blown away by what we tasted. Chef Paula has flavour on that menu that is like nothing we have ever experienced and that menu is on fire. The steak is obviously the specialty there, but seriously, the top half of the menu was no less spectacular.

Highlights:

Corn flatbread, served with grass fed butter and honey – reads as bread and butter but is a dish in it’s own right. Everything about this seemingly simple dish is absolutely perfect.

Tita’s Mash – the best mashed potatoes I have ever tasted. Topped with cheese curds and gouda. It’s rich and delicious

Sausage Board – when we were there they were serving a “hot dog” (ya, right! if hot dogs were perfect), a pork and shrimp sausage which if you ate it with your eyes closed, you’d swear you were eating shu mai, and a kimchi sausage that was amazing and a flavour I had never tasted before.”

Rachel’s Pick  Constantine (Toronto) – Chefs Craig Harding, Rob LeClair & Morgan Bellis

picture of cod on a grey plate with yellow dusting and orange vegetables
Fogo Island Cod at Constantine Restaurant

“Mitch and I went in for dinner and were seated at the kitchen bar, right at the pass (prime location for me to scope out all the food).  The focal point of restaurant is the open kitchen that is anchored by a big wood fired grill at the back.

After watching a few dishes go out we decided to start with the burrata.  The cheese was beautifully plated right in front of us with grilled asparagus, fresh peas, fava beans, and mint pesto. Definitely one of the best I’ve ever had! We then ordered the bitter green salad, Wagyu picanha, and Fogo Island Cod. It was clear that each component had been carefully considered and tested. Every dish was so balanced.

The beef was cooked perfectly and served with a winter tabouleh that was hearty but not heavy, and the cod was amazing! The skin was crisp and salty and the dish itself had some great textures to complement the smoothness of the fish. They sent us over dessert (halva “nougat” and a chocolate mousse with kalamansi) and both were so good I had to steal a spoon from the pass to fully clean the bowls out. I have no shame.”

Steve’s Pick Locale Restaurant (King City) – Chef Andrea Censario

Our driver manager, Steve, stopped in at Locale Restaurant and had a wonderful experience. The beet salad was his main highlight, and he noted that the service was impeccable!

Jason B.’s PickGrey Gardens (Toronto) – Chef Mitch Bates

“Best meal out this month was at Grey Gardens!

The space is so beautiful and was packed and vibrant on a Monday night. Coziest bar stools looking right into an amazingly focused and quiet kitchen. Amazing atmosphere and a playlist that didn’t quit.

Our server Kate was wonderful and her wine recommendations were perfect. She poured us some of the house orange wine and a super funky and herbal white from Greece (Alchymiste?). I don’t know a thing about wine but they were both SO TASTY.

The food was obviously great too. I want to buy the smoked fish dip by the quart.

The standout dish was the white asparagus, with maitake mushrooms on a delicate custard. So good.

Everything we ate screamed spring.

Plump humpback shrimp with spinach, rutabaga, and the August’s Harvest green garlic.

Springy alkaline noodles with clams and a briny seafood ragu.

The best lamb Sausage with Best Baa feta and bright favas,

Halibut drowning in morels, bacon, and brussels.”

So, stumped on where to go next? Check out one of our 100km picks for the season! We can’t wait to visit more of your establishments and share all the amazing things you are doing with local!

Count the Differences with Woolley’s Lamb!

Welcome to the first Sow and Tell of 2018, featuring Woolley’s Lamb from Norfolk County!

To quickly recap, this series features a different farm partner or producer we work with to share some of the history and the story to help you know where your food comes from.

In 2018, we’re going to be changing it up a little bit. For this feature, we have a variety of samples available from Woolley’s Lamb. Please contact your sales rep to have a sample added on to your order. Woolley’s have lots of leg of lamb – just in time for Easter! Their lamb (for reasons we’ll get into below) is much leaner and milder tasting than typical Ontario or imported lamb, so get those samples on your order so you too can discover the delicious high quality of Woolley’s Lamb.

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Woolley’s Lamb: A History

Woolley’s Lamb is not just a lamb farm. Originally, it was (and still is) a very large apple and sour cherry orchard, an orchard that is one of the ten farm partners that works with Norfolk’s Fruit Grower’s Association! There’s a good chance if you’ve purchased an apple from NFGA, you’ve purchased apples grown from Brett Shuyler and Carrie Woolley’s family farm.

It’s Brett’s family – The Shuylers – who have owned the orchards for decades. Carrie Woolley (yes, her last name IS Woolley, it really was meant to be for her to be a modern day shepherdess!) is a sixth-generation farmer who studied animal sciences at Guelph University. It is Carrie who wanted to diversify the family farm by lamb farming. Carrie explained that her goal was to create their version of a vertical farm. In this case, it doesn’t mean stacking crops vertically to make use of smaller space, but rather to find ways to carry the farm through the off-season. Initiatives such as these are just one of the many strategies farmers use to make their operation more financially and environmentally sustainable.

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What makes Woolley’s Lamb a special lamb farm?

Woolley’s Lamb is only five years old but is already unique when it comes to the world of lamb. The ewes and lambs graze in the orchards year-round (including winter – their thick coats mean they can withstand lots of snow and cold temperatures!). There’s two major benefits to this approach. First, the lambs and ewes are grass fed (and fed hay and other roughage in winter) which means the lambs have leaner, milder meat. Second, this cuts down on costs for the orchard operation – grasses don’t need to be mowed and cover crops aren’t as necessary, as the lambs fertilize and restore soil quality through their grazing habits. Also, since their lamb is frozen, the shelf like is extended, meaning Carrie and Brett can set costs and keep it consistently priced, which we know is a huge boon for chefs when it comes to menu planning!

Right now, the ewes are pregnant. This year, Carrie opted to have some ewes artificially inseminated, but most of the ewes will have been naturally impregnated in the fields. Soon, the ewes will begin lambing! Carrie takes the health and quality of life for the flock very seriously. Each day, she goes from orchard to orchard, checking on the flocks. In the warmer months, she checks on them multiple times a day, specifically looking for any signs of illness or injury. Carrie impressed upon us the importance of taking quick action, should any of the lambs fall ill, to maintain the health of the entire flock. Carrie also makes sure that her ewes get extended breaks from being pregnant and nursing lambs – which is not always standard in lamb farming. Carrie also makes sure to shear the sheep to sell the wool, and has just started working with a smaller independent Canadian business that makes high quality wool clothing as a buyer!

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The Rewards and Challenges of Local Food

When I asked Carrie and Brett about some of the challenges and rewards of farming this way, they told us that they derive lots of joy and satisfaction from innovating in a way to improve their farms environmental sustainability. They also highlighted that one of their biggest challenges is connecting to the consumer – running an orchard and a lamb farm, as well as raising their newborn daughter Emma – can take up a lot of their time. Through 100km Foods, they can connect more with chefs and consumers who purchase their lamb, especially because we source identify by every farm. In fact, it is only through partnering with us that they are able to get their lamb products to the Toronto market!

If you want to learn more about Woolley’s Lamb, we recommend following Carrie on both Twitter and Instagram @CarrieWoolley1. We love reading her funny and informative posts!

So – if you’d like to get ahold of some great lamb samples in the lead up to Easter – we’re your people! Let your sales rep know if you’d like them tacked on to your next order, and they’ll be more than happy to facilitate!

Special thanks to Brett & Carrie for the information and some of the pictures in this post.

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.

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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

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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.

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