Work Of Our Hands

The local terroir dilemma

Almost 20 years ago when I arrived in Saskatoon, I knew how to work with food – real food that is, not processed, powdered, vac-packed or otherwise abused food. My take on local was to meet and get to know the growers that could provide me with this real food and to share my knowledge and experience in handling it with young cooks so they in turn would learn, be able to maintain and eventually transmit that “savoir-faire.” As craftsmen we train long and hard to hone skills that have been developed and passed on to us through generations of chefs. In using “raw” local ingredients, we generate local wages, maintain local knowledge and emphasize a direct and respectful connection to our food and the land. On all fronts and without a doubt, this has been a very successful endeavour. This is demonstrated by the vibrancy & quality of the local food scene that has reached critical mass and understands all the benefits of the term “local”.

Local is a great start but there is so much more! A few very important issues demand urgent attention, sustainable, organic, ethical… Fair trade coffee has had a huge impact on the lives of many but what about animal welfare as well as the welfare of the workers in these “factories?” We are now starting to ask local producers to improve on their practices and offerings.

Calories has been slowly bringing these issues to the forefront by sourcing the best raw unadulterated ingredients. If organic, sustainable, ethical, healthy real food is not available locally, we bring it in from farther afield, this generates an opportunity for committed local producers to step up their offerings and improve on some or all of the issues that need to be tackled by our industry. We need to make a difference quickly and reverse many decades of misguided approach to food. When eating out or buying food, please ask where it comes from and how it was raised or better yet…. Grow some of it yourself!

Remi Cousyn