Ingredient Profile: Black Garlic

It's no secret that there are trends in foods - and one ingredient we're starting to see on menus more and more frequently is black garlic.

What is black garlic, exactly?

Black garlic is simply fermented white garlic - no other fancy gimmicks or ingredients (and no panic necessary for soy-averse gluten free diets).

It's possible to make your own by keeping whole heads of garlic in a warm humid environment for 3 to 5 weeks, though this does come with it the environmental downside of leaving your oven on 140C /280F the whole time.

(Plus, "fermenting" and "look it up on the internet" aren't necessarily good food safety companions.)

With any trendy food comes the inevitable claims of Super Amazing Health Benefits (now with more Omega-3s!), so take from it what you will that it's meant to have double the amount of antioxidants of non-fermented garlic, and Oprah.com claims it's a new superfood.

But let's get down to the good stuff - how does it taste and what do you do with it?

First off, you can eat it raw if you're so inclined. The flavour is incredibly mild and a touch sweet, almost like a firm textured roasted garlic but leaning towards a balsamic vinegar or tamarind tanginess.

General guidance is to cook with it as you would use normal garlic - but beware, the inky colour does transfer so if you didn't want grey ricotta or eggs you may wish to hold off.

I tried it in two recipes:

- Sliced and mixed with maple, orange zest and pomegranate molasses served over roasted duck breast. The flavour didn't really stand out and I couldn't quite figure out what the hype is about (though it does look like the poor man's truffle).

- Sautéed with shallots in an asparagus risotto. You can see I wasn't kidding about the colour transfer thing - besides the garlic, the only ingredients are shallots, leeks, asparagus, arborio rice, white wine and clear vegetable stock.

Now I get the hype - and it's spot on! The flavour of black garlic was very rich and pronounced and I will say it added so much to the dish I didn't need nearly the level of salt and parmesan I usually sneak into risotto.

(Plus, it had the added benefit of covering up the slightly charred leeks that I meant to caramelize gently.)

Quality & Storage

It's not the most common product to find so you may not be able to pick and choose when it comes to quality. If you're going to make it yourself, it's crucial to start with the highest quality garlic because the fermentation process intensifies flavours.

I was advised to keep it in a paper bag if I would use it within a month, or in the fridge to keep for longer than that.

So, how to find this magic ingredient?

In Vancouver you can find it at both South China Seas Trading Co and Whole Foods Market (Cambie). Rumor has it that it's available at San Francisco's Berkeley Bowl as well.

Where have you found black garlic? 

Any tips or discoveries in cooking with it?

McDonald's Revealing Burger Ad Secrets

Yesterday, McDonald's Canada treated their audience to an inside look at why the burgers in McDonald's ads look so much more appetizing than the ones you get when you actually purchase one for yourself. See the video below: 

 

The Secret To Beautiful Burgers

The secret to the beautiful burgers in McDonald's advertisements won't surprise you. It amounts to a few diligent hours of preparation by food stylists topped off with a Photoshop touch-up session; much as you'd expect for a human model about to find him/herself on the cover of a fashion magazine.

No big surprises there, but some of you are probably surprised (or skeptical) that the ingredients they use are the same as the ones used in the store.

Nevertheless, there are a few interesting takeaways.

Authentic Stories Resonate With Consumers

The days of food brands marketing their products based solely on claims like "Tastes Better" and "Less Fat" are now over. When McDonald's overtly makes moves to establish consumer trust by effectively showing their boxer shorts on the internet, you can be assured they know it's worth the risk of blowback. They believe that so earnestly, they're addressing an un-authentic marketing tactic in an authentic way. We all know that addressing your weaknesses is an effective way to build trust.

Takeaway: Do you know that your customers have questions you haven't answered? It's time to step up to the plate with answers.

Social Engagement Is Paramount

McDonald's Canada is using social media and a question-answer engagement website to connect with their customers. They're fielding question from their audience on a daily basis, and you can imagine that consumers have a lot of questions for McDonald's. Often when a controversial food brand open up a forum like that, they face the most challenging questions first.

They're taking this to the next level by answering questions using video, and putting the people behind their brand front and center. They're humanizing the corporation, which is one of the very best ways for companies to use social media.

Takeaway: If McDonald's is willing to tell their story on social media, how long can you get away with staying quiet?

Authenticity Is Becoming More Authentic

Finding new beer startup Churchkey Can Co's beer @churchkeycanco

Late last week we caught a blog post on tech publication Techcrunch about Church Key Can Co, a young company in Portland, Oregon that's turning heads by producing beer that requires churchkeys to open. From the article:

The cans are the old-timey variety that you probably haven’t seen since the 60s. They’re made of fully-recyclable steel, and require a churchkey opener to get into. You puncture one corner of the top, then make a deeper puncture on the other side to drink out of. Ever noticed a triangle-shaped piece of metal on the other end of some bottle openers? It’s for these types of cans.

The company is backed by a set of people in the technology world, so it caught our attention as a foodtech startup. We investigated a bit further and wondered where we might find and try this beer, because the churchkey thing is cool, but what does the beer actually taste like, right?

The company's website lists the places, but it really isn't all that helpful. There's no map and no information for these places, like even a phone number to call and check if they're carrying Churchkey.

So we took their retail list and crunched the data.

Click here to see their Where to Buy map, which gives you a good feel for where you can find Churchkey. Our mobile app now has this information in it as well for people on the go. And if you do find Churchkey somewhere you can verify these places by sharing a photo of the beer cans on Foodtree.

Have you had their beer yet? How was it?

The Changing Face of Farming: Urban CSA #realfood

CSAs move into towns and cities...

Community supported agriculture is a great way to take a step closer to the food you are eating, allowing you to know exactly where your food is coming from, who’s growing it and how it's being grown. CSAs have been around for a while, but in recent years local farms have taken a step closer to your table at home: they are filling in the spaces in our towns and cities.

Urban farmers like Emi Do are ring fencing agricultural areas as cities grow around them, as well as finding unconventional spots to produce food on a small local scale.

"By bringing farming to the city, we are in essence bringing food production closer to the people it feeds. I love that I get to engage in dialogue with my neighbors and that my profession is one that nourishes them."

Urban farms are wide spread enough now that you can almost guarantee that every city will have one or two, and you might be surprised at the growing power these small corners of land have, we’re not talking the occasional lettuce here. When I stopped by Yummy Yards in Vancouver Emi explained to me that this season she is growing: kale, swiss chard, collards, spinach, salad greens, arugula, cabbages, carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, onion, kohlrabi, leeks, scallions, garlic, squash, pumpkin, zucchini, beans, peas, eggplant, peppers, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, parsley, basil, and more!

It's great for the community!

While urban farms can and do supply restaurants and markets, the real power of these projects is that they can provide the communities around them with food via Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

If you are in Vancouver you can find out more about Yummy Yards’ CSA here, or Yummy Yards' Foodtree page here. Aternatively investigate your local CSA scene to find something similar near you!

Food Advocate: Kia Robertson, creator of Today I Ate A Rainbow @eatingarainbow #foodadvocates

Our mission at Foodtree is to connect people with great food. With this in mind we’re highlighting individuals and organizations we think do a fantastic job of contributing, promoting, building, and transforming the food system. We call them Food Advocates. Would you like to participate? Fill out our interview here and we’ll follow up! Today we chat with Kia Robertson, author and creator of Today I Ate A Rainbow, which turns healthy eating into a game for parents to encourage their children to establish great eating habits!

Tell us about yourself:

I am a mom to an amazing 8yr old daughter, the wife of a fantastic husband who is also my business partner in our 3 companies and I'm a recovering picky eater!!!

I created an interactive game called Today I Ate A Rainbow for my daughter and it was so successful that I decided to turn it into a product that could help other families set healthy eating habits!

Tell us about your project/business:

We are so proud of our product Today I Ate A Rainbow, it's a game that gets kids ASKING to eat a rainbow of colorful fruits and veggies every day! Using a rainbow as a guide, this product makes it easy to understand that kids need to be eating at least 5 different colored fruits and vegetables everyday...they need to Eat A Rainbow! Each color group is packed with a unique set of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients so growing bodies benefit the most from eating from each group.

The Rainbow Kit is an easy to understand concept for children aged 3 and up. It comes with 4 sets of tracking magnets, a laminated fridge chart, a color coded shopping list and a book called The Rainbow Bunch.

Our website is full of tips on how to get kids eating a rainbow, suggestions for picky eating, recipe ideas, insightful blog posts, our kids cooking video series called In The Rainbow Kitchen and our free downloads such as coloring sheets, certificates and our new and free Today I Tried chart that is a visual tool that it can take at least 10 exposures to a new food before it's accepted!

Hearing from happy parents and educators is always the best part of this job...I know what it's like to be a picky eater and I also know what it's like to be a parent who just wants the best for their child so it means a lot to me that our product is making a difference and helping family live healthier lives!

Has your relationship with food evolved over time? How?

Well this is going to sound rather ironic considering the company I started... but I was an extremely picky eater for most of my life...I rarely ate any vegetables and only ate a few fruits! My mom says I'd go so far as to pick the grated carrots out of carrot cake.

Becoming a mother changed all that in a hurry! I wanted to ensure that she grew up with healthy eating habits and I wanted to be a good role model for her. So I started reading everything I could get my hands on that talked about healthy eating! It has been a long and sometimes uncomfortable journey for me.

Today I eat mainly fruits and vegetables, I juice daily and we make at least 90% of our meals from scratch! I have never felt healthier, happier or stronger than I do now!

What is your earliest memory about food?

My earliest food memory would probably be when I was two years old having a picnic with my mom in our backyard on a warm sunny day eating strawberries and feeling the juice drip down my face :)

What’s most important to you when it comes to buying food – local, organic, fair trade, GMO-free, etc?

All of the above :) If I had to choose I would say that supporting local farmers is the most important to me followed closely by organics and then GMO-free foods. It is all so important and makes a difference so we do our best to buy wisely!

What is the one thing you’d like to see change about the food system?

I would like to see small organic farms getting government subsidies and support from their local communities. I think it's time we focus on our food choices and how what we choose impacts the earth, our health and our economy. Every family makes a difference when it comes to voting with our forks!

What is special about food where you live? What’s one thing you would change?

We live in an area that is full of vineyards, orchards and farms...we can walk 5 blocks to a local farm and get our eggs, organic honey and veggies. Just down the road from them is a wonderful berry farm. I especially love picking a crispy juice apple off the tree at my parents orchard!

One thing I would change...I'd love to see more organic farms in the area!

What are your favorite ingredients to use when preparing a meal?

My favorite ingredients to use would have to be garlic, olive oil, onions and lemons! One or all of those ingredients are in most of our meals!

What are your favorite foods?

My favorite foods: well I recently discovered the joys of juicing so I'm really enjoying all kinds of vegetables and fruits that way! Other than juicing I love my husband's fresh homemade bread, pretty much all fruits and I love pasta!

Other than food, what are you particularly excited about right now?

I am really excited about a new movie out called Hungry For Change, a new book called French Kids Eat Everything from Karen Le Billon (read her Food Advocate interview), and the fact that Spring is finally here and we can start planning out our garden! Oh and I am really enthralled with Pinterest :)

Tell us about a food-related project that has inspired you:

I find Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution very inspiring! We watched his tv show as a family, I like to take part in their twitter parties and I am really excited about his upcoming Food Revolution Day on May 19th!

Where can people find you both online and offline?

I'm sharing our rainbow eating message on our

Website: http://www.todayiatearainbow.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TodayIAteARainbow Twitter: @eatingarainbow Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/eatingarainbow

:)

Thanks for taking part in our Food Advocate series! 

Food Advocate: Lacy Boggs from Laughing Lemon Pie @lacylu42 #foodadvocates

Our mission at Foodtree is to connect people with great food. With this in mind we’re highlighting individuals and organizations we think do a fantastic job of contributing, promoting, building, and transforming the food system. We call them Food Advocates. Would you like to participate? Fill out our interview here and we’ll follow up! Today we chat with Lacy Boggs, food writer and editor living in Boulder, Colorado, who's lauching Laughing Lemon Pie today so make sure you drop by to check it out!

Tell us about yourself:

My main roles these days are wife and mom, writer, and foodie! I live with my husband and daughter in Westminster, Colorado—smack dab in between the wonderful foodie cities of Denver and Boulder.

I'm a freelance writer and the food editor at the quirky, hyper-local publication, Yellow Scene Magazine (http://yellowscene.com). It's a dream job where I get paid to eat at all the best restaurants in Boulder County and hang out with the coolest people on the foodie scene.

I'm also the editor of Colorado Babies magazine, a staff writer for OrganicAuthority.com, and author of my own website, Laughing Lemon Pie, where I write about all things food.

Tell us about your project/business:

My website, Laughing Lemon Pie is for the family foodie who wants to buy, cook, and dine on beautiful, healthy, delicious food—while living the reality of tight budgets, picky eaters, and weeknight soccer practices. I'll be exploring the fabulous foodie world of Colorado's Front Range, with recipes, tips, and resources for a everyone, no matter where you live.

I'm also cooking my way through my grandmother's recipe collection from her 1950's TV cooking show, "Today's Kitchen." It's a blast updating these retro recipes and bringing them back to the dinner table.

Has your relationship with food evolved over time? How?

My mother taught me to cook at a young age. My sister and I were always encouraged to help in the kitchen, and taught a little bit about the whys and the hows of cooking as we went along. Both of my grandmothers were amazing cooks, and food has always been a big part of my life.

But as I moved into my job as a food writer, I started to look at food a little more critically. I also started to learn about some of the political and ethical implications surrounding our food systems. It's made me much more conscious of what I put in my mouth, and a little more choosey when it comes to what I want to spend my money on—both at the grocery store and when choosing a restaurant.

What is your earliest memory about food?

Holidays are a big deal, food-wise, in my family—tons of food, huge spreads, enough to feed the fourth army. My grandmother would cook the turkey, the gravy, and her famous Georgia-style cornbread dressing, and my mom, my sister and I would make all the side dishes and desserts.

Every year my mother would bake dozens (and dozens!) of Christmas cookies and my sister and I would sit at the kitchen table decorate them while she rolled and cut and baked. Some years we even hung them on the tree instead of ornaments, with popcorn and cranberry garlands—and would almost inevitably come home one day to find them all eaten off by the dog! I can't wait to start that tradition with my little girl.

What’s most important to you when it comes to buying food – local, organic, fair trade, GMO-free, etc?

I read a great quote from Mark Bittman recently, in which he said, "the biggest difference is not between a conventionally grown head of broccoli and organically locally grown head of broccoli, the biggest difference is between a head of broccoli and a cheeseburger." That's pretty much where I'm at right now, trying to make good choices for my body, my family, and the planet. We're flexitarians at my house, eating "meat-lite." Which isn't to say I don't enjoy a great cheeseburger once in a while—'cause I absolutely do!

What is the one thing you’d like to see change about the food system?

I would love to see congress actually rewrite the Farm Bill and do away with the huge subsidies for corn. I would instead allocate those funds to support family farmers growing fruits and vegetables and increase the funding for healthy food education.

What is special about food where you live? What’s one thing you would change?

Boulder has recently been named one of the "best foodie town in America" and Denver has gotten similar accolades.  We have some of the best restaurants in the country, not to mention an incredible food community of local producers and artisans. Couple all that with the beautiful scenery and amazing weather and I'm pretty much in heaven!

What are your favorite ingredients to use when preparing a meal?

I always use good olive oil and butter, lots of garlic, good sea salt and fresh pepper. My pantry is full of grains, dry beans, nuts, whole wheat pasta and chocolate! And my fridge is always full of fresh produce. I always keep some New Mexico green chile in my freezer and a big block of Tillamook extra-sharp cheddar in the fridge for when nacho cravings hit.  My baby girl would eat avocados every day if I let her, so we have to keep those on hand as well!

What are your favorite foods?

When I was pregnant, I craved cheese nachos with guacamole almost constantly, and that hasn't seemed to abate, even almost a year later! I love all kinds of cheese, fresh bread, peaches, lemons, New Mexico green chile and pinyon coffee, sweet potatoes and French fries. And being a Texas girl at heart, I pine for good Tex-Mex.

Other than food, what are you particularly excited about right now?

I'm loving being a mom, to be honest. My daughter is the center of my world in the best possible way. She's a complete joy to be around, and I adore watching her learn and grow and getting to experience things for the first time again through her. I'm currently deep in the "crazy mom" moments planning her first birthday party! It's going to be a blast.

Tell us about a food-related project that has inspired you:

My 5-year-old nephew was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma leukemia in January, so we've all been plunged into the world of childhood cancer like a dunk in a bucked of ice water. I'm really excited by the group Cookies for Kids' Cancer (http://www.cookiesforkidscancer.org) and I want to host a bake sale in the near future.

Where can people find you both online and offline?

Website: http://laughinglemonpie.com Email: lacy@laughinglemonpie.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LaughingLemonPie Twitter: @lacylu42 Pinterest: lacylu42 Yellow Scene Magazine: http://yellowscene.com/author/lacyblu

Thanks for taking part in our Food Advocate series! 

#openfood launches at SXSW & trends worldwide on twitter!

To say that this weekend's Open Food Data panel at South by Southwest was a success would be understating a bit. Here at Foodtree we think we speak for everyone involved when we say that we're excited for the future and grateful for the response and thoughtful conversations that this effort has ignited so far. Everything you need to get involved in pushing Open Food Data forward can be found at the Open Food website.

#openfood Trends Worldwide

During the panel on Sunday many attendants were using the #openfood hashtag to share ideas and updates with the people who couldn't make it to the panel in person. What you may not have realized was that about 15 minutes into the panel that hashtag began trending worldwide on Twitter; an uncommon and unique feat that many hope to experience and very few accomplish (aside from Justin Bieber, that is).

[tweet https://twitter.com/foodtree/status/178902274909798400 align='center']

That alone is an amazing show of support for the open food data movement, and as movement's go we can officially call this one launched!

SXSW Where to Eat Map, a collaboration with Food+Tech Connect, Eat Well Guide, and Animal Welfare Approved

South by Southwest Interactive is a yearly conference in Austin, Texas that brings together engineers, entrepreneurs, and technology companies looking to share best practices, see emerging trends, and connect over the exciting developments happening around the world. Anthony, our CEO, is in Austin this weekend taking in the event, so if you're there and want to connect you can ping him on twitter: @tonynicalo

Where to Eat in Austin

We got together with Food+Tech Connect, Eat Well Guide, and the Animal Welfare Approved to cultivate a list of stand-out food spots in town, and you might be surprised to hear it's not all barbecue! Head to www.foodtree.com/sxsw to install the app on any mobile phone and to consult the list while you're looking for your next meal.

The collaboration on the mobile app culminates tomorrow night during a special dinner event called Networked Food System. The gathering will welcome innovators, entrepreneurs, government officials and food systems experts to a delicious dinner and conversation about the direction our food system is headed. Our team tracked down the origin of all the food served during their meal and included that in the app well.

Below are some screenshots from the SXSW Where to Eat app and the menu being served tomorrow night at the NFS dinner.

If you're in Austin this weekend make sure you drop by the Better Food Through Open Data Standards panel tomorrow at 12:30pm to hear Anthony and a panel of experts discuss how recipe sites, restaurant menu wranglers, open government developers, urban agronomists, provenance geeks and food policy activists are collaborating on an interoperable standard.

7 Delicious Google logos (Doodles) that might make you hungry

Did you know that every once in a while, Google changes their homepage logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists and scientists? They call the logo drawings and animations Doodles, and what started out as a gaff has become a tradition that users anticipate and even collect in some cases.

The first Doodle was a stick figure letting users know that Larry and Sergey (founders) were out of the office attending Burning Man, a cultural festival in the desert. A year later intern Dennis Hwang did a Doodle for Bastille Day and was anointed Head Doodler; he now leads the team of designers and engineers that produce the company's Doodles.

Today we thought it'd be fun to look back at some of the food-focused Doodles that have delighted users around the world. There are plenty, so we've picked a few favorites!

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi's 118th Birthday

To honor the scientist who discovered Vitamin-C, the Doodle Team turned Google into the distributor of all things rich in Vitamin-C content!

This was the first concept drawing:

Which turned into this finished logo:

More details here.

Magusto 2011

From the Doodle site: "Magusto" is a Portuguese tradition celebrated by all generations: from grandparents, to moms and dads, and little children. On this day, people come together to eat chestnuts, drink new wine and mingle with friends and family.

More details here.

Canadian Thanksgiving 2009

Google swaps their logo pretty much every Thanksgiving holiday, but their '09 Canadian Thanksgiving logo really stands out, mostly because it's entirely one color!

More details here.

Valentine's Day 2007

Valentine's Day is another regular Doodle holiday, but this subtle offering in 2007 conjures up the delicious memories of chocolate covered strawberries.

Details here. More Valentine's doodles.

Persian New Year 2009

Shown in United Arab Emirates & Afghanistan in March of '09, this elegant logo is likely an unknown to most of us.

Details here.

Tomato Festival 2008

In honor of Spain's Tomato festival, this juicy logo was displayed in August of 2008. This is the festival dubbed Tomatina, during which there's what amounts to a massive tomato food fight!

Details here.

Halloween 2011

This is probably the most impressive effort yet; imagine putting much effort into your company's logo for one day!

This is the video that lived on the homepage and showed users the process of carving the massive pumpkins:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPAa7BqgSbw

And here's the behind the scenes video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yjG0rmOIngE

More details here.

What are you favorites?

Head over to the Doodle site to check out the hundreds of Doodles from Google over the years. There's a nice little blurb on the history of Doodles there too. Let us know which ones are your favorites!

Food Advocate Profile: Karen Pinchin of Rain City Chronicles @karenpinchin #foodadvocates

Our mission at Foodtree is to connect people with where their food comes from. With this in mind we’re highlighting individuals and organizations we think do a fantastic job of contributing, promoting, building, and transforming the food system. We call them Food Advocates. Would you like to participate? Fill out our interview here and we’ll follow up! Today we're featuring Karen Pinchin, a journalist and the co-founder of Rain City Chronicles and about to embark on adventures in culinary school.

Tell us about yourself: I grew up in Etobicoke, Ont., the daughter of an environmental businessman and a chemist, working at my grandfather's apple farm on weekends. For the past decade, I've primarily been a journalist. I have particular interest in food, which I inherited from my mother (what other 12 year old knows what chocolate "temper" is?"), along with environment, culture and technology. I currently live in Vancouver, BC, in an urban cabin with my fiancee, a goofy chocolate lab and an overzealous cat.

Tell us about your project/business: After journalism school, I got my start at some very large and mainstream media publications, but quickly found that my interests and abilities were outstripping opportunities in a perilous journalism job market. So I moved to online editing, freelancing for publications like The Walrus and The Globe and Mail, and otherwise trying to support the digital shift towards quality journalism online. I co-founded the Rain City Chronicles, a periodic community-based storytelling series, back in 2009, and that is still going strong. Most recently, though, I quit my job as an editor to head to professional cooking school full-time in January. After that, I'll be aiming towards writing and editing around food technology, gastronomy and culture.

Has your relationship with food evolved over time? How? Everyone's has, I think. But I suppose working on an apple farm at such a young age had a profound impact on my preconceived notions of what our food system should look like. I took for granted that everyone could eat asparagus out of a garden, or knew how to forage for chanterelles. That kind of cheap self-sufficiency was a practical matter, not just a high-end luxury, so it's strange for me to think about modern-day gourmand-ism as something that's only accessible to the very rich. It's mostly about doing something over buying something, which is something I think we've lost touch with as a society.

What is your earliest memory about food? My earliest food memory is probably from the apple farm. I was probably about thirteen or so, and had taken a break from patrolling the orchard (it was pick-your-own, and many careless people would climb trees and break branches or throw apples). I picked a Jonagold apple, which were quite new at the time, that was nearly as large as my head, and laid back in the thigh-high grass. I remember munching on this huge apple, looking up through the trees, watching the fluffy white clouds drift across a Dutch-blue sky as apple juice ran down my cheeks.

What's most important to you when it comes to buying food - local, organic, fair trade, GMO-free, etc? Definitely local, and not factory-farmed. Local is important for changing how our food economy is structured, and supporting local entrepreneurs and farmers. However, good food doesn't have to be ""organic"" to be good. Our apple farm wasn't organic, but it was a manageable size, my grandfather practiced careful spraying and tree maintenance, and didn't depend on irrigation to keep the trees alive.

For things we can't get locally, I think fair-trade chocolate and coffee should be the default, but unfortunately capitalism doesn't work that way. This makes the fair-trade label necessary, which is too bad. Wouldn't it be nice if we could assume that trade was fair?

When it comes to GMOs, I think engineering seeds, animals or otherwise that can't reproduce or support themselves should be outlawed. It's a horrible, self-sabotaging practice that's going to bite society in the butt in the long run.

What is the one thing you'd like to see change about the food system? I'd love to see more grassroots community action around skills-sharing, like foraging, preserving, curing, cooking and otherwise. Right now cities aren't doing a great job of supporting these movements through grants, etc., but I also don't believe they should be expected to do all the heavy lifting. Food economy is really important as well; I've had friends tell me that it's cheaper to eat out than to buy the base ingredients. This means they are either wasting too much, or don't know how to freeze/save/use leftover food, which is a tragedy, and super wasteful.

What is special about food where you live? What's one thing you would change? "I live off Commercial Drive, which has a great new seafood store called The Daily Catch, where everything is 100% Ocean Wise. They're great.

Also: there's an amazing proliferation of community and school gardens, which is great for teaching our children basic lessons about food that I think we lost over the past few decades. Most importantly though, I think there's a certain food mentality that is very progressive, and people are open to be pragmatic but also very idealistic. It's a nice blend.

Change? I'd change the elitism that comes from eating locally, sustainably, etc. It doesn't make you a better person. It's just better.

Also, because so many people live in tiny, overpriced apartments and condos, there isn't as many opportunities for those people to have gardens, etc. This means outrageous real estate prices are the silent killer when it comes to urban gardens."

What are your favorite ingredients to use when preparing a meal? Beans! They're cheap, easy and delicious, and Rancho Gordo is doing a great job of saving certain beans that are at risk of dying out. I save 10 seeds from every packet I buy, and am planning on starting an heirloom bean garden next year.

That and my homemade bacon. It makes everything taste better, and means I have lots of leftover lard to use in cooking.

Also: chipotles in adobo, which I puree and keep in a small container in my fridge keep forever, and can be added to anything for the easiest flavour burst.

What are your favorite foods? French fries, Parisian-style composed salads, and my mom's ribs.

Other than food, what are you particularly excited about right now? Storytelling! (Rain City Chronicles Website & Twitter)

And charcuterie.

Tell us about a food-related project that has inspired you: More private community gardens on TOP of buildings.

Where can people find you both online and offline? You can find me online at karenpinchin.com or on Twitter @karenpinchin

5 Recommended free QR code scanner apps for Android, Blackberry, and iPhone

QR codes continue to spark a bit of debate around their adoption in North America, but there is no doubt that their prevalence is rising. The trend is pronounced in Asian culture, and quite a bit of information can fit on these small codes so we expect to see their adoption increase in the West as well (this report indicates 1235% growth last year alone).

Read More

Food Advocate: Carrie Ferrence of Stockbox Grocers #foodadvocates

Our mission at Foodtree is to connect people with where their food comes from. With this in mind we’re highlighting individuals and organizations we think do a fantastic job of contributing, promoting, building, and transforming the food system. We call them Food Advocates. Would you like to participate? Fill out our interview here and we'll follow up! Today we’re featuring Carrie Ferrence, Chief Planning and Development Officer of Stockbox Grocers.

Tell us about your project/business: Stockbox Grocers is a miniature grocery that is tucked inside a reclaimed shipping container and placed into the parking lot of an existing business or organization. We innovate on the espresso stand model to get fresh produce and essential grocery staples into communities that do not currently have access to good food.

Has your relationship with food evolved over time? How? Absolutely. My mother never made anything out of a box - everything was made from scratch and she was dedicated to preserving every last bit of a food through pickling or jarring. Despite this commitment to food, it took me years to really learn how to savor and celebrate food, not just for its ability to sustain, but for its capacity to build connections between people and with community. As a grocery owner, I get to celebrate the ability of food to build meaningful and emotional connections. Food can educate. Food can heal. And food can help communities to thrive.

What is your earliest memory about food? We have so many food traditions in my family, that it is difficult to pinpoint the earliest memory. We always have chestnut filling at Christmas, chocolate peanut butter cake on birthdays, pickled tomatoes from the garden in summer, and pork and sauerkraut on New Year's. Perhaps one of my fondest memories is one of the more simple dishes: venison sausage and potatoes in broth, after buck season.

What's most important to you when it comes to buying food - local, organic, fair trade, GMO-free, etc? I try to find a balance. I try to buy locally when possible. And, I have a few staples that I will only buy organic, like milk, eggs, and coffee. But, for the rest of my grocery cart, I really buy a mix of mainstream and organic. This is partly to balance out my household's finances and partly because I often put a bigger focus on quality products. I know what products/brands that I like and I stick with them.

What is the one thing you'd like to see change about the food system? As a small grocery owner, I'd love to see us move away from our dependence on the big box stores. We don't need to shop in a 40,000 square foot store all the time. We don't need to have 17 options for mustard. And, we don't need to purchase everything in bulk. I'd love to see more opportunities to buy food inside the community.

What is special about food where you live? What's one thing you would change? I live in the Northwest, which means that I have a lot of access to fresh and foraged foods. We have such incredible wines, produce, seafood, and mushrooms. But, the lack of a good growing season in the summer does make it difficult to grow a variety of produce (including tomatoes!) in our own backyard.

What are your favorite ingredients to use when preparing a meal? Olive oil, salt, and pepper. I once traveled Europe by bicycle for 4.5 months and probably prepared 75% of my meals with these three ingredients. I never got tired of it. If you have good food and fresh produce, than these three ingredients can simply help the food shine.

On a side note, I am a big believer in cream and whole milk. You just can't bake or cook successfully with low-fat milk.

What are your favorite foods? I was a vegetarian for more than a decade, but started eating meat a few years ago. Since my return to meat, I cannot get enough of salami and prosciutto. I also eat a ton of polenta, quinoa, eggs, and kale (it's the one food that grows like hot cakes in my yard). In addition, I recently started making my own pasta, which is addicting.

Other than food, what are you particularly excited about right now? One of my New Year's resolutions is to learn how to sew and quilt. I have always been a big crafter, but have tended toward knitting and yarn. This will be a big step for me and I'm really excited to take on the challenge. I will be learning how to sew with my business partner, Jacqueline!

Tell us about a food-related project that has inspired you: We are excited to be supporting Seattle Tilth as they build Seattle's first food hub.

Where can people find you both online and offline? Website: stockboxgrocers.com Facebook: Stockbox Grocers Twitter: @StockboxGrocers

Move over Angry Birds! A round up of recent Foodtree coverage.

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The last two weeks have seen a lot of buzz around Foodtree! Thank you to all the people who spent time talking with us and learning about the progress we've made as well as our plans for the future. In addition, big thanks to everyone who's been so generously sharing these pieces with their friends and followers.

Below is a bit of round up on some of recent Foodtree coverage, all of which brings a unique perspective to what we're up to. Enjoy!

CBC Morning Edition interviews CEO Anthony (at about 39:40)

Click here to listen to Anthony chat with the Morning Edition

ShawTV's Michael Popove interviews CEO Anthony

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Social and mobile technologies boost local food movement - Burlington Free Press

Other social technologies Sugarsnap uses to do business are Twitter and Facebook, but Smart didn’t find true footing until he began working with Foodtree, he said.

“One of the nice things about Foodtree is that every time a user takes a photo related to food, they are able to post on Foodtree, as well as Twitter and Facebook,” he said. “We’re expecting to really leverage the richness of photos and accompanying stories to get more people engaged. We’re already seeing positive impacts.” - link

CKNW Morning News interviews CEO Anthony

Click here to listen to Anthony's radio interview with Philip Till at CKNW

Scan here if you're hungry - Vancouver Metro News

“The more people understand their food — where it’s from, who’s responsible for it and how it’s treated — the more power consumers have to make informed decisions,” Derek Shanahan said. “We are trying to change the idea that food is a commodity and to connect people who are eating the food with those producing the food.” - link

Grocery store in Vancouver will feature local produce and fully integrate Foodtree - Vancouver Courier

The business is meant to feature local producers and prepared salads, snacks and juices with seasonal menus and dine-in seating. Leung's planning to keep Harvest open until 9 p.m. since most of the other area markets close by 6 p.m.

Foodtree, a company based in Chinatown that uses technology like QR codes that customers can use to learn more about growers, is working with Leung on promoting local producers. - link

Company helps fuel food knowledge - Vancouver Courier

"Oftentimes it is the people who are most closely producing food, farmers and fisherman, who maintain a connection to the planet in a way that most of us who live in cities do not," he said.

Vancouver restaurants Nicli Antica Pizzeria, Bishop's and Campagnolo have used smart-phone readable QR codes created by Foodtree linking menu items to farms that provide ingredients such as wild boar. - link

Want to see more?

We keep all of our press clippings over here. Feel free to poke through them for some perspective on what Foodtree is all about.

If you'd like to talk to us about a feature in your publication, please email Anthony directly at anthonyATfoodtreeDOTcom.