Thursday, 10 August 2017

Beet the System

Beet the System

I have an abundance of beets thanks to Manorun Organic Farm, and have spent the afternoon, roasting and pickling.  It’s easier than you think to pickle and preserve, and can be a great meditation practice, my pantry is going to look pretty nice at the end of this growing season.  I am genuinely trying to buy in season and preserve. There is a lot of money to be saved, plus it is way healthier.

So,  solo cutting, roasting, & marinades, leaves me thinking to two summers ago when we had just finished building our canning kitchen up at Soldaat’s Poultry, some fun times were had there chopping veggies with Plan B Organic Farms .  We had lots of preserves going on, and it was awesome, fun and tasty…. but we couldn’t make money at it.  Perhaps someone smarter than I could of, but the bottom line is the cost of small scale Artisan production is too high for the market to support if you calculate all the costs in.  Food preservation tends to only work well if your raw materials are free and labour is free and you enjoy it. Small scale canning companies are virtually non-existent in Ontario for a reason, they are not fiscally viable.   I had my whole business plan wrapped around a food truck and small scale condiment production, I never fully anticipated the regulations and cost associated with a commercial kitchen, and food production.     

During that time and still I have managed to juggle a “real” job, event planning, so every now and then I was away for a few days, so I took off and left the kitchen to the home team, we were in the final stages of Inspection with the City, about a week away from our “green cert”, and we were running the truck on location for fries and lunch.    Upon my return I found my team had decided to make pickled beets instead of being on the truck, and the health inspector had visited.  It was sort of at that moment that I realized how flawed this whole idea had become, I had just paid about 250$ just wages and materials for about 40 jars of pickled beets,(about 7 $ cost per jar) that I couldn’t even sell because no green cert, plus all the regulations for labelling not considered.  I took the beets home and they sat in my garage, and it bugged me when I saw those beets.

Now there are two sides to every story and if we change the way we look at things the things, the things we look at change.  When I returned from my trip and saw the jars of Beets, I was not excited, in fact I was clearly disappointed that I did not come back to a spick and span ready for inspection kitchen and an open food truck, my team however was so proud of Beets, cause there were no customers and they had kept busy and made something…….. They looked at me like what’s her problem. I looked at the Beets and thought, this is going to be a problem. And there the beets sat in the garage and when I looked at them it bugged me and when my team looked at them it bugged them that it bugged me, so they figured let’s eat beets.  I suppose there are worse things in life than having 40 jars of beets in your garage.

So how did I go from happy to preserve – crank the tunes – chop veggies and fight for my right to host a Farmers Market to eyeing mason jars of beets with extreme disappointment. 

Food is not for profit.

Food is for consumption, food is for community, when profit becomes the driver ethics are lost.

The reason I ever contemplated getting into the food industry was after becoming a cog in the Animal Feed Industry.  A thoughtful series on this was recently aired on PBS

Two years later, today I canned just for myself, pickles and beets,  having an abundance of local food is a nice thing. In my own kitchen for myself, and it was peaceful and comforting.  Pickled Beets, & Pickled Cukes, and about 20 jars cost me about $50.  Or about 2.50 per jar, no labor included just produce and jars.    

Now that is way cheaper plus organic and local. 

To truly beat the system we have to become engaged in our food production, by growing our own and preserving in season, just like in the “old days”. 

Find your local farmer and find out what is in season and abundant and preserve it. 

Food is not for profit.

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