The "steaks" are high at this year's Food Farm Fork fest
Love to eat meat? Do you know where the meat you buy comes from and how it gets to you? Care about local food? If these questions piqued your interest, you might want to head out tomorrow to the annual Farm Food Fork event, where locals will be talking all things meat-related.
This year’s event, called Raising the Steaks, happens at the Hume Hotel all day and into the evening on Friday, March 27.
Hosted by the West Kootenay Permaculture Co-op, the event features a session during the day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. called the STEAKholder forum, for anyone involved in food or the local economy to gather and discuss solutions and actions around local meat production
Then, an event in the evening from 5:30 to 9:30 invites STEAKeaters (the general public) to come and indulge in samples of local meat, enjoy a live butchery challenge, cooking demos and more.
Shauna Teare, chair of the West Kootenay Permaculture Co-op, says the decision to make this year’s Food Farm Fork fest focused on meat was the result of last year’s event that focused on local food.
“The number one issue that came up was a lack of local meat,” Teare says. “So this event is all about increasing capacity for local meat in a sustainable way.”
Why local meat?
If at this point, you’re asking why you should be concerned about local meat when there’s always lots of meat on the shelves at the grocery store, read on.
According to Teare, the first things for people to consider when looking at supporting local meat are their health and what kind of food system they want to support.
“When you go to a . . . grocery chain store and buy a piece of meat, you’re voting, Teare explains. “You’re saying you support an industrialized food process where animals are units of dollars. This system doesn’t care about the health of animals or the health of humans. The animals are loaded with toxins that end up in the environment and the bodies of humans.”
She says people who care about their health and healthy local food systems should consider supporting local farmers.
“People want to eat meat and care about their community should invest in local farmers,” Teare says, noting that doing so will also help keep the price of meat reasonable as the cost of petroleum and just about everything else goes up.
“As we hit peak everything, the cost of these well-subsidized foods (such as industrial meat) will skyrocket,” she points out. “The more we’ve invested in our local farmers, the better we will be in the long-term.”
Finally, in a place like the West Kootenay, where it takes little more than a bad winter storm of heavy spring rain to cut off communities or even the whole region from the outside, Teare says having locally produced food in abundance is key.
She points to mudslides a few years ago that cut off both routes in and out of Kaslo.
“There was no food left in the stores after day two,” she notes. “We’re dependent on these really fragile (external food) systems. So we need to invest on
Processing meat is the biggest challenge
the systems around us, because they’re the ones that truly support us.”
When asked what the biggest challenges facing local farmers are, Teare explains that they’re mostly based around infrastructure, with a significant problem being the lack of a local red meat abbatoir.
She notes that currently the only one that exists in the area is in Creston, and making the trip there poses a big problem for local meat producers.
“It’s costly, and it makes the animals stressed, which makes the meat taste not as good,” she says. “So it’s a significant challenge.”
So how can you support the local meat production system? Teare says simply buy from a farmer.
“Instead of buying chicken on a foam tray, come out and buy a whole chicken from a farm,” she says, adding that coming out to this year’s Food Farm Form event is another great way to offer your support.
“Consumers who are interested in learning more about their food and where it comes from will find the event eye opening,” Teare noted. “The evening will really leave a good taste in people’s mouths.”