Eating Local, Eating Well: Meals From A Northern Garden

We woke up this morning to a hazy world, like many of the other communities in northwestern Ontario. Our corner of the province has 100 forest fires burning, and two First Nation communities north of us, Keewaywin and Sandy Lake, are being evacuated today. So far this year 178,514 hectares have been burned, compared to last year (a slow fire summer) in which 13,863 hectares were destroyed by fire. The average is 61,479 hectares, so we’re well over that this year, and it’s not even the end of July. A friend who lives in downtown Red Lake took this photo of this morning’s sunrise over Howey Bay:

The view of Howey Bay from downtown Red Lake this morning. Photo by Kathy Tetlock

Eating local is part of moving away from oil dependency to local resilience. The good news is, it’s also healthier and tastier than the pre-packaged fast food and junk food that makes up the average North American diet these days. As rates of diet-related disorders such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease soar, eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed food laced with sugar and/or salt becomes a way to live longer and happier, not just live more lightly on the planet.

Today is “Meatless Monday“, where people are encouraged to cut out meat as a way to eat healthier and combat climate change. In our household these days, every day is meatless because our two university-aged daughters are home for the summer, and they are both vegetarians. Luckily, they are both good cooks, too, so Mark and I haven’t missed eating meat. And both girls make an exception in their vegetarian diet for fresh,local fish, so that has been a delicious supplement to our mainly meatless diet.

Last night Emma, our youngest, took charge of making supper. The result was a delicious, mostly local meal of homemade pasta, fresh pesto made with basil from our garden, and a strawberry lettuce salad also made with garden-fresh ingredients. What a blast for the taste buds that was!

fresh pesto
Homemade fettucini with fresh pesto
Lettuce salad with strawberries

Here’s the link to the pesto recipe that Emma used (although she used 4 cups of basil, and decreased the olive oil to 1/2 cup): Basil Pesto Recipe.

As I was preparing to post this, I got another reminder, besides the smoke, that I live in northern Ontario. I heard our dog barking madly, and looked up to see a black bear in our backyard, not 10 feet from my office window. I would have loved to have snapped a picture, but our dog chased it off promptly. My oldest daughter arrived home on her bicycle five minutes later, taking in stride the fact that she had met up with the same black bear on the road!

More links and Resources:

Northern Ontario battles 92 Wildfires As More Loom

MNR Photos of Red Lake Fire #59

Climate change 2 : Forests soak up third of fossil fuel emissions : ‘Science’ study

Gardening In a Short Growing Season by Graham Saunders

Gardening Upside Down

We live in a topsy-turvy world where far, far more money is spent on guns and making war than on educating children and feeding the starving, and where the richest corporations in the world have funded a successful PR campaign to paint climate scientists  as money grubbers getting rich off the science of global warming. Considering this, growing a garden upside down seems somehow appropriate.

We had heard good things about growing tomatoes this way, so this spring we looked around several gardening centres for an upside down planter.  When we couldn’t find any, Mark decided to make his own.  Although some people recommend using 5 gallon buckets, Mark chose to fashion three planters out of empty potassium chloride bags that we already had on hand.  After turning the bag inside out for aesthetic reasons and then opening both ends, he made a cuff on either end and we secured it by stitching it. At one end, he strung a stiff wire through the cuff (to keep the top end open) and then attached wires for hanging it up.  At the other end, he inserted either an ice cream pail lid or a wooden circle he made to fit, with a hole in the centre, and stapled it to the plastic after getting the tomato plant in place. This is the final product:

I’m not convinced that this is the look I want on our front deck this summer, although Mark says from the road they look like decorative lanterns!  And if we have lots of fresh tomatoes from them this summer, I will probably be convinced that they are beautiful.

More links:

How To Grow Tomatoes Upside Down