Foodshed: An Edible Alberta Alphabet, dee Hobsbawn-Smith

Let’s talk about food.

It’s possible to eat locally in Alberta. This place is abundant. It’s easy to forget that in the aisles of a Safeway with piles and piles of raspberries imported from who-knows-where. Thing is, my mom’s driveway is lined with raspberry bushes that I could go and pick if I wanted to.

When it’s possible, I try to source my food locally. “Local,” to me (and I think Matthew would agree about it) means buying food that I feel confident about. Buying food that I know the origin of. Growing my own, if possible. There are a lot of reasons for that choice. It comes back to the point I made a couple of books ago: living is political. The choices we make about what we eat are necessarily political. Politics happens when you open your wallet. I want to feel good about what I’m eating, but I also want to feel good about what my money is supporting.

Phew. Alright. So there’s my call to arms – eat local, make good choices, know where your money is going. It’s okay to buy a chocolate bar if you want to, though. But support a local business when you do it, okay? Hint: Duchess Provisions sells really great chocolate.

It’s not surprising, given what I think about my food choices, that I really enjoyed this book. dee Hobsbawn-Smith spoke at a Litfest event Matthew and I volunteered for, and I think her prose is just as engaging as her presentation. The book is an “edible alphabet,” giving an overview of Alberta food production from A-Z. Basically, we can grow just about anything here, and we do, and we should get out and eat it. Did you know Alberta and Saskatchewan produce 17% of the world’s lentils? Eat lentils!

To support that alphabet, dee interviewed dozens of Alberta food producers, some more familiar than others. I have a lot of eating to do. She also includes some background information about the politics and policies surrounding food production, which everybody should know. If that wasn’t enough, she gives us recipes! I will be making butter chicken, folks. It will be tasty. You’re invited.

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