Slow Food Whitehorse

P.O. Box 20228
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 7A2

Yes, We Have no Bananas is a regular column in the Yukon Conservation Society Newsletter.

Slow Food

Winter 2007

Is your New Year's Resolution going to involve trying to make a personal effort to slow down climate change?

Eating s'local* food can help make a difference. Consider how much fossil fuel is involved in supplying Yukoners with fresh lettuce and other salad greens in the winter.

There is the planting, growing, harvesting, washing, packaging (all those plastic bags and little boxes that then have to be recycled or burned and buried) and on top of that there are the special transport needs of a perishable and fragile item, i.e. foods like lettuce that have to be kept warm during the cold winter drive to Whitehorse.

Compare the amount of fossil fuel energy that transportation uses to the amount of food energy (calories) we get from eating fresh greens. And I wonder what happens to the vitamins and minerals during the long ride? Eating fresh salad greens in the north during the winter months is not an environmentally healthy habit.

What would the energy savings be if YCS members and their families made this one choice - to eat only locally grown lettuce and salad greens in season?

If you are interested in this idea or have other ideas ou would like to share, let us know - and watch for a s'local potluck dinner in the New Year. We'll be talking about starting a buying club that will order food from no further away than western Canada.

In the meantime, dust off your seed sprouter and/or try shredding up some green cabbage for sandwiches. Then you could go pick up a copy of the Celebrate Yukon Food cookbook at the "Yukon-Made Christmas Store" - open from December 9th to 24th at the old Legion Hall (306 Alexander Street).

* s'local = slow and local food prepared from the real thing and using ingredients from the closest source possible.

Cheers, Julie

(Call Sue at YCS at 668-5678 or July at 393-3217 if you would like more information.)

Summer 2007

On Sunday April 22, hundreds of people came to the Mount Macintyre Recreation Centre to celebrate Earth Day. There was yoga, meditation, a potluck lunch, educational displays and a variety of indoor and outdoor activities and presentations.

The Slow Food Potluck was a mouth watering bridge between the morning and afternoon. Not only was the food delicious: it was also nutritious. Many of the people who brought dishes for the Potluck filled out a form to be judged in the “No Bananas” contest.

The purpose of this contest was to cultivate a consciousness about the origin of the food that we eat. Each participant filled a scorecard that identified the origin of each ingredient in their potluck dish. The highest points were allocated to ingredients that were grown closest to Whitehorse; there were also points allocated if the ingredients were fairly traded or organic. And to recognize people who are already cook with foods that could come from a closer area, there was a final set of points allocated for those ingredients. This final set of points recognizes that, at the beginning, it can be difficult to plan menus around local foods and so if a person has incorporated that into their planning, it’s a relatively easy step to then buy those foods from as close as possible to where they will be prepared and eaten. For example – an apple crumble can be more local than a mango crumble. But, the rhubarb for a rhubarb crumble can be grown extremely close to your kitchen. I know one person whose rhubarb grows right under their kitchen window!

The winner of the 2007 Earth Day No Bananas Contest is Katie Hayhurst. Congratulations Katie! Katie amassed a total of 1380 points for the four dishes that she prepared: Corn Bread, Multi-Grain Bread, Baked Beans and Cranberry Squares. None of the ingredients that Katie used came from further away than western Canada and there was at least one very local ingredient in each dish. The cornbread used soya yoghurt made in downtown Whitehorse, the bread used sourdough starter from the Fish Lake area, the baked beans used birch syrup from central Yukon and the cranberry squares included locally picked cranberries –
most of the food was slowly cooked over Katie’s wood stove, with the excess heat supplementing the heating of the house. The aprons that Katie wore on Earth Day were washed and pressed using green friendly soap and a solarpowered washing machine and iron. Yay Katie!

Second prize went to Chalia Tuzlak’s Vegetable Curry, third prize to Lillian Strauss’ Sourdough Soup, fourth prize to Ulla Rembe’s Veggie Slice and fifth prize went to Elissa and Stephen’s Water Cress Soup. Congratulations and thank you to all who made the Slow Food Potluck such a tasty and educational event.

One participant in the contest wrote …“WOW! Thanks for this exercise. I had no idea that I had no idea to this degree [about where the food that I prepare comes from]. It has helped me become even more aware … and to really think about how to get more ingredients closer to home.”
The success of the Slow Food Potluck has made a few of us think that it would be great to carry on the search (and eating of) the most local ingredients possible. We are thinking about using the YCS office for a S’Local Potluck discussion group– held bi-monthly, organized around an
environmental topic, complete with the consumption and digestion of Slow, Local foods. Maybe starting off in early fall?

Until then, see you at the Farmer’s Market! The first market date is Thursday, May 17 at Shipyards Park.

Sue Kemmett and Julie Frisch

Something else to think about at this time of year: Are your home-grown veggies really local if the bedding plants came thousands of kilometers in a truck? Lots of bedding plants are grown in the Yukon– why not buy them?

Spring 2007

Actually we do have bananas in the Yukon, and as I write we are about to have a lot more.

Thousands of bananas are on the way to Whitehorse from Central and South America for – guess what? – the Canada Winter Games! Considering the probability that global warming is in large part due to burning fossil fuels and considering that bananas are heavy, perishable fruit that come from far away, shouldn’t we be serving up something else in Canada while playing games this winter?

Consider this:

  • Almost all the bananas we eat have been treated with a chemical regime that includes fungicides, nemotisides, insecticides, erbicides and disinfectants. High banana yields are forced with synthetic fertilizers.
  • The costs to the environment in the areas where the bananas are grown include contaminated water, deforestation, soil erosion and
    exhaustion, water pollution and loss of biodiversity.
  • 80% of the bananas we eat are grown on plantations owned by the three big companies (guess – you know their names) where labour conditions are extremely poor and health risks are extremely high.

Organic bananas are a better choice when considering the health of people and their environment… as long as they are eaten near where they are produced! Can a banana really be considered “organic” in the Yukon?

Hmmm… Perhaps we should be serving up slices of BC apples or local berries on our breakfast tables way up here in the Yukon.

If you have some thoughts on food production or consumption here in the Yukon that you would like to share with our membership, contact us here at YCS.

Julie Frisch


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© Simone Rudge 2007