Our second night here we attended a panel discussion, #WeAreYQQ, by some local food entrepreneurs which was held at the Courtenay Museum. For a balmy summer’s night it was well attended. Topics discussed included local bylaws, food security, and keeping up with a growing demand (haha, get it? “Growing” is punny!). One woman who spoke has been piloting a project to get local foods into the hospital, which makes a lot of sense but is also mired by bureaucracy. (Did you know the federal government plans to centralize all hospital food by 2016? That means Newfoundland and British Columbia and all the provinces in between will have the same food supplier, so I don’t think local or fresh is part of that plan. Food isn’t antibiotics or MRI machines. Please contact your MP). She is actually making pretty good progress and has a list of 6 food items will will now be sourced locally! It’s a step no one thought could be taken, so she’s a go-getter to be sure.
We also heard from Guerrilla Foods and Gladstone Brewery. Both the Gladstone and the Cumberland Brewery have had to expand rapidly to keep up with demand, which is great but also I think a finical hardship on them. I won a bottle of Ceylon Cinnamon from Ceylon Cuisine. The Ceylon Cuisine co-owner described how they had started a food truck but had no where to park it (this is the number one problem food trucks have, I have gathered from reading articles in Food Truck Magazine and talking to various food truck owners), and how difficult it is to negotiate such things with the municipality. I guess they are better negotiators than they think, because we went to the Farmer’s Market a few days later and their food truck was there serving up hot food! They had just got the go-ahead that morning. We had some and it was good.
After the panel we hang out at the Gladstone Brewery and talked to one of the owners, Daniel, who it turned out is our neighbour in Cumberland. I enjoyed a bottle of Island Sodaworks tonic water so I could compare it to my own. It was tasty but not an authentic tonic as it contained no quinine at all. There is just not substitute for that bitter, tropical flavour. Daniel told me they sell a lot of it so I guess the lack of quinine is not a problem for most people.
We also later in the week visited Guerilla Foods, who have a very nice storefront at their commisary, and bought a frozen meal. We haven’t tried it yet, but I will report back when we do. We have heard reviews from others saying it is good and quite a good value! I have to comment it’s a great idea for a business in a place where convenience foods aren’t very abundant, but also in a place where people give a fuck about what they eat, like we do, right here.