Kelowna’s Farmers’ Market has become the weekend hotspot for everyone from families to hipsters, but the locale offers more than an opportunity to be seen in the right place at the right time.
“The selection of local food is great,” said chef Mathew Morazain, the culinary director of UBC Okanagan, following a presentation where he whipped together sumptuous treats from entirely locally produced fare.
Admittedly, however, a late spring has diminished the selection of produce—peas and tomatoes the two most lamented— but in even the worst conditions the valley has a bounty to choose from.
The Okanagan’s natural assets are actually the reason why the chef, who competes on Team Canada in the North American culinary championships, relocated from his home in Ontario.
“Locally focused food is the amazing way forward,” he said, “and the Okanagan has so much potential.”
While Morazain speaks from the lofty domain of the foodie, he pointed out he’s not alone in his thoughts. He’s actually just caught up in a populist wave.
More and more people are going back to the land, and he says that can be seen through the demand for community gardens around the valley.
“I’m vice-president of the community garden in (West Kelowna), and we have a 30-person waiting list,” he said.
“There’s nothing like fresh grown vegetables for taste, but it’s mainly price that’s creating demand.”
Using his UBC Okanagan gig as the measuring stick for today’s pricing, he pointed out that his costs for a pound of chives is $25.
“But they grow like grass in my garden,” he said, adding that the heightened dollar comes from the fact that the price of fuel is being factored into agriculture.
Ironically, the “growing undercurrent” of home gardeners is coming along at a time when the agricultural industry is facing the most challenges.
Each year more orchardists pull up their trees, in favour of cash crops like wine grapes, he said.
Morazain leads UBC Okanagan’s food and wine pairing workshops
For more information call, or check out the workshops, visit www.ubc.ca/okanagan/continuingstudies.