Gee, I wish I could find local food more easily. Oh wait, there’s an app for that! Last month, anyone with a smart phone and a yen for locally produced food could download a new, free app from the Buy Local, Eat Natural initiative supported by organizations such as the British Columbia Dairy Association, British Columbia Agriculture Council, and the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture.
There is only one problem. When I first downloaded the app to my phone and logged on, it seemed like the only local business in all of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands listed was the Slow Rise Bakery on Gabriola Island. I can only hope that this app will improve with time, as the functionality of the other features such as Recipes and In Season was spotty at best. Although it’s good to know that butter is considered in season in February and you can find 54 recipes featuring butter on the app.
Seriously, I don’t mean to crap on the app. Any attempts to put more local food into the hands of BC residents have to be applauded. The Buy Local, Eat Natural folks probably just need to get more feet on the ground (email and the phone) across the province to build their database. They did manage to conduct a successful web-based contest last summer aimed at getting folks to nominate and vote for their favourite local food producers.
Don’t simply rely on apps and social media to find local food, though. Good old-fashioned, over-the-fence chats with your neighbours, magazines and radio shows are all good sources. Even yours truly is taking a stab at leading you down the right garden path with the publication of a book this April. It won’t be long before farmers’ markets start springing up again with their hopeful promises of bedding plants, the first salad greens of the season and the ever-popular fistfuls of ruby red rhubarb. I’m kind of pining for a rhubarb crisp right about now. No recipes for rhubarb on that app yet. Guess it’s back to my cookbooks.
Don Genova is the author of Food Artisans of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, available in April, published by TouchWood Editions. Follow Don on his blog at blog.dongenova.com.