WORDS BY DANIEL JACK | PHOTOS BY HEATHER MUSE
Why go through all the work and headache of creating a magazine?
I think to answer this question I will default to a recent mini-adventure my wife and I went on. In the beginning of September, we were invited to partake in a Food Tour arranged by Monique MacDonald and Jacquie Fenske of Northern Bites. Initially, all I knew was that we were going to tour an apple farm and as I happen to quite enjoy apples, I thought, “Why not?” However, this 3 hour tour included much more than simply picking apples.
It all began with a bagged dinner given to us at the Fifendekel in the south side in Edmonton. We then hopped on a bus with approximately 15 others, and headed off to the country side. Rather than gaze out the window and lulling ourselves to sleep by the ‘slight’ bumps of our Alberta highways, we were greeted by Carlene Schneider of Northline Farms. She informed us of the endeavour she and her husband have taken on with their High Quality Angus Beef Farm and Roadside Veggie stand. It is amazing what two people can accomplish with a piece of land, some dirt and some ‘help’ from their young family…
Carlene from Northline Farms in front of her roadside veggie stand
This brought us to the primary focus of the tour, an apple orchard. “Attracted 2 Apples” is owned and operated by Frank Sawyer who gave us a tour, which included sampling some of his newly named varieties. As an avid apple enthusiast, there is always a certain amount of controversy about what the best apple is. Macintosh, Honey Crisp, and Spartan are a few of my favourites but now throw names like 5 of Diamonds, Prairie Sensation, Lucky Jack, or Orange Pumpkin into the mix and the great apple debate continues. In order to find out your favourite, I guess you will have to come out next year and try some yourself!
Back to the tour, we boarded the bus to head back to the big city. Along the way we were given a history lesson of how chocolate is made from chocolatier Louise Ludwig of Choclination Chocolates & Confections. We were also treated to some samples – gummy bears with chocolate? Who would have thought that combo could be so goooood.
Once we got back to Fifendekel, we were put to work cleaning, peeling, slicing and dicing our freshly picked apples in order to make the best (and perhaps my first) apple pie I have ever made. Of course, while making the pies we had several other presentations from several other local companies, some of whom will be featured in this magazine at a later date.
So back to the original question; why make a magazine? In reflecting on the food tour, I need to quote Frank the Apple Farmer. During our tour someone asked Frank who he sells his apples to. His answer, “I don’t sell the apples, I sell the fun of picking the apples.”
When is the last time you picked an apple straight from the tree? When is the last time you pulled a carrot out of the ground and crunched it down, dirt and all? When is the last time you looked at your plate of food and wondered where did this stuff actually come from? And when is the last time our kids did any of these things? Bring them to a farm, let them get their hands dirty and show them where their meals come from.
Seeing everyone tell their story also brings up another reason for this magazine. In preparing this pilot issue, we were introduced to many local entrepreneurs. Some are brand new and just starting out, others have been around for 30+ years. It’s fascinating to see how all these businesses began. Some began with empty Alberta Prairie and a lot of heart, while others began as a conversation over a kitchen table while making sandwiches, and still others began with making and serving moonshine to their friends. All began with someone having an idea which put an itch in their mind that wouldn’t go away until it had been fully scratched. A common theme we have also noticed is the support of family and friends who pushed and encouraged these creative ideas and helped foster them along.
This magazine is the same. It started out as an idea in someone’s mind and couldn’t be shoved away until it had been put out to the wind. Everyone we have reached out to or told about this idea has been excited and supportive. If you are reading this, then you already have shown that support and encouragement and we want to say Thanks.
Frank the apple farmer at his orchard east of Edmonton, Attracted 2 Apples
Why local? Who cares about that?
In our living room we have a 4 foot by 6 foot map of the world dominating one wall. I can stare at it for hours. When you start to pick off the places you would not live due to political unrest, violence, or poverty, you are reminded of how awesome Canada is. I am proud to be Canadian. I am proud to be Albertan. I am proud to be an Edmontonian. Edmonton’s local food scene is starting to get (arguably) international attention. Do I care about local? Absolutely. I go out of my way to buy local and support the Ma and Pa businesses in this city. And I’m guessing that if you were drawn to reading this magazine, you share that view. So once again, Thanks.
This article was originally published in the Pilot Issue of Eat Local Magazine in September 2018.