June 28, 2011

all these beautiful warm tiny bodies in my hands

As we were picking our stawberries for Renard Artisan Bistro I began wondering about all this local movement, actually I also wondering about every movement; from the head to ass movement (note to North Americans the Chinese are way ahead of any of us), vegans, molecular, organics etc...With the 30 degree sun beautifully roasting us pickers I also thought of hunters, gatherers, survivalism and the paleolithic diet movement. A simple act of picking my own strawberries was beginning to become challenging.

Being local food wise in Quebec in a way is easy, but I started recognizing the restrictions, like wine, like olive oil, quinoa....many things I love, but not so 'pure' to a locavore. like a pork chop to a vegan. Or, for instance, another question came to me, do I buy something from BC or New York? Or yet, is it absolute quality or giving credence and support to an emerging artisan? I do remember one thing though; last year I was in a market and someone bought the Cali strawberries over the Quebec ones because they were 50 cents cheaper. Someone told me that the prices are deliberately dropped in order to compete with the local varieties. Encouraging the local spirit or are we getting ripped off, every person's thought precisely. Everyone in the world is trying to justify their 50 cents worth, but I think at least the choice should be obvious, with so many good strawberries available in Quebec, the choice of quality wins hands down. If anything, have you ever known the variety of strawberry that you are eating? Likely not, because we are never told. But for the first time I found out that I was making dessert with Chambly and Jewel strawberries, and somewhat satisfied, I suppose that was my 50 cents worth.

June 12, 2011

exit the monopole....

Through the misty farmland of Bois Franc I arrive again at Le Presbytere fromagerie, and each time it feels like returning home.

It has been almost a year since the last time I visited Jean Morin and now with the UPA finally in the process of dissolving its monopoly over Quebec farmers, I feel more at ease to write this.

He had put out a cheese not so long ago with the name la Brie du Monopole. This was a direct attack on the obligatory membership farmers had to pay the UPA (not really a union because no one joins, more like a tax or a mafia.). When he was ready to market his Brie du Monopole cheese he was immediately visited by 'some' member of the UPA who reminded him in low undertones that he should think of his children's future. Obviously a very covert threat which saw the early death of the Monopole name into Brie du Paysan (a direct reference to Union Paysanne a fervent opponent of the UPA). The UPA monopoly is now fianlly disolving, but Jean Morin told me that nonetheless not so long ago some UPA members were threatening him physically complaining that he has no respect for the hand that feeds. I could not help thinking of Stalin.....and as Morin gave me a roll of the original stickers "Brie du Monopole" stashed away in a cupboard I was convinced that this was certain to go down in Quebec history!