Prior to this position, the practice of agriculture was so foreign to me that I filed it away as obsolete - out of sight, out of mind. This is funny because, believe it or not, I was raised in a farming community. My perspective was muddled right after I graduated high school and traded my views of endless, sprawling pastures for towering, urban landscapes. With this transition, I suppose I inherently decided that agriculture no longer had any relevance in my life. In hindsight, I was just blindly eating three meals a day without ever considering the origin of the items on my plate. I’ve since learned that although I may never directly participate in the production of food, there is something to be said about the “consumer” in regards to the growth and longevity of agriculture. I, like most, am a consumer which makes me an imminent shareholder in this age-old industry. With that, I should, at the very least, have a preliminary education in terms of food and where it comes from.
My new-found curiosity found itself in the right hands when along with a group of food writers, dietitians, chefs, bloggers and culinary professionals from across North America, I was invited to take part in the Farm to Fork Tour in and around Saskatoon. The Farm to Fork Tour is an initiative organized by Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan (FFC SK) which is a non-profit organization that works to connect consumers to agriculture. This three-day mobile symposium sets out to build relationships with influential public figures in hopes to eliminate the dissonance between food producers and their respective consumers.
With representatives from renowned magazines and media outlets across Canada and the United States as well as professionals and educators from some of the country’s most esteemed culinary programs, it was clear that I had the least to offer in terms of agricultural knowledge. That said, I did embody a demographic that no one else did, that of an uninformed consumer. This demographic is likely the majority in Canada and probably the world. If this experience taught me anything it’s that you shouldn’t have to be a food professional to take an interest in food. After all, it’s a primary means of survival for everyone.
The itinerary of the Farm to Fork Tour demonstrated exactly what the title suggests. We spent each day at a farm or a food processing facility and then we did what consumers do best: consumed. Among the stops was Colborn Farms, one of our province’s agricultural staples whose legacy dates back over a century. Located near Delisle, this farm is a large producer of some of our province’s poultry, beef, and grain. What I learned is that although this is a family-run operation there are far more moving parts than I had remotely anticipated. This farm utilizes incredibly innovative technology for rapid production of quality products. Modern farms like this go above and beyond the stigmatized perspective that
uninformed consumers like myself have when it comes to agriculture. It was a truly eye-opening experience.
We also stopped by Star Egg in Saskatoon which, again, exceeded anything I could even fathom in terms of efficiency and cutting edge production. Their state-of-the-art facility, located right in Saskatoon, pumps out 1.2 million eggs a day! Each egg is supplied by one of 65 locally sourced farms right here in Saskatchewan. They strive to employ the best practices with respect to food safety regulations, animal welfare and responsible sourcing.
Although these tours were incredibly informative and fascinating, the highlight of this experience for me was all of the amazing food I got to eat. We attended local culinary favourites like The Odd Couple and Picaros in Saskatoon who provided us with a fixed menu of locally-sourced dinners. We even stopped by Baba's Perogies and got a behind the scenes look and the production of one of Saskatchewan's most cherished delicacies.
The agriculture industry in Saskatchewan has a philosophy that all of our food has a story. The Farm to Fork Tour told some of those stories in an incredibly eloquent and informative manner. I encourage other consumers like myself to take part in learning opportunities that will help you get better acquainted with your food and where it comes from.
To learn more about Farm & Food Care go to: https://farmfoodcaresk.org/