Locally-Grown Food Vs. Chimerica Agrifoods

Illustration by Kelly Bastow.

Do

Locally-Grown Food

Many varieties of garlic are grown in Newfoundland and each reflects the site on which it is cultivated: the soil and the exposure. I’ve tasted fiery examples and others gentle as a leek, but none of it, because it is so fresh to market, has that sulphurous, devils’ breath character that marks shitty garlic. Garlic from the Bonavista Peninsula should have an AOC. Have you tried locally grown celery? It is a revelation. Its taste profile is herbal. Frost-teased Newfoundland brussels sprouts are almost minty, so powerfully green is their flavour. Our root vegetables are the most flavourful on the planet. Newfoundland lamb from the Cape Shore has no equal. Owing to the iodine in the sea sprayed on its diet of wild scrub and crabgrass it is delicately gamey and not in the least capric. The French brag about the lamb of Paulliac and Sisteron, and it is great meat but not a patch on ours. Fish from here is a no-brainer, but think past our glorious cod and halibut (skin on please!) and explore hake and flounder or the sweetest cold water shrimp. Space prohibits a full list of the foodstuffs grown and sourced right here which are among the best in the world. The arguments for eating it are many: food security, economic diversity, jobs and so on. The number one argument, though, is gastronomic position. It tastes far, far better. To sum up: crowd your table with friends and neighbours, and put locally-grown food on your plate.

Illustration by Kelly Bastow.

Don’t

Chimerica Agrifoods

Ever notice that garlic from China sold in the supermarkets never sprouts? I speculate that it has been irradiated. No biggie, lots of globally-shipped food products are because if one didn’t kill off the life within they would have rotted before they got here. I saw “strawberries” being planted in the Salinas Valley in California once. A great winged machine was stamping hundreds of plants at a time into the scorched ground, turning it into a vast, drip-irrigated Chia Pet. It seemed entirely mechanized but for the one person I saw who was taking a dump in a ditch. You can drive to Clarenville to pick a perfectly delicious apple on the carbon blown into the atmosphere bringing one from Chile to St. John’s. The pale-shouldered strawberries and the peaches that morph from pool balls to mealy mush when removed from refrigeration are tasteless, they only look like fresh fruit. If you must eat them in February there are bags of fruit frozen soon after harvest in the freezers of the supermarkets; it likely has no less a carbon footprint but at least it has flavour. The same is not true of frozen seafood products from faraway lands. A lot of it is suspiciously “packed” in a place many degrees of longitude away from where it is reputedly a “product of”. Those large frozen shrimp—variously of China, India or Vietnam—could have been fed anything, and that frozen “Cocktail Shrimp Ring” has some merit as a sort of freakish pop art sculptural piece, but it’s not fit to eat.

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