Good Food Challenge 2015

We face many food-related challenges here in the province, and in turn, many of our communities face high costs, low quality, and low availability of fresh foods. Alongside these challenges, however, lies an incredible capacity to come together around solutions.

Our incredibly rich food traditions of eating from the land and sea, including gardening, fishing, hunting and berry picking, are just one example. These traditional food ways—still practiced across the province today—represent one of the greatest strengths upon which we can build to improve the state of food security in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In recent years there has been an  incredible growth in interest and action on food security, and with more community organizations, businesses, governments, researchers, and citizens working on this issue, the time is right to take this interest to the next level. If our province is to be food secure, we must better understand how we can individually and collectively contribute to shaping and sustaining a healthy and sustainable food system. The first step is starting the conversation!

So without further ado, our 2015 Good Food Challenge questions!

Week 1:

We started off the week with something easy, and asked people to tell us about their favourite food. There was a strong love of soup in our community, but responses were across the board—everything from eggs, to partridges, and pizza! You can view—and join—the conversation by clicking below!

RESOURCE: Check out Cookspiration for great recipes to find some new favourite foods!

Question number two was all about salad! We believe that great salads come from great ingredients and simple, fresh salad dressings, so we wanted to hear what combinations people loved. Food First NL's own Elling Lien helped demonstrate just how diverse you can get with salad, by sharing his family's discovery of warm salad. Read more by clicking below!

RESOURCE:  Learn the basics of making salad dressing, with Mark Bittman

Eating homegrown food can sometimes feel daunting—90% of our fresh vegetables come from outside the province, and 80% of our seafood production is exported — and these are just a couple of challenges. That said, however, there's still an amazing variety of wild food available in our communities —from berries, to fish, and moose — a growing community of producers — from farmers, to fishermen, and hunters — and venues — from community gardens, to farmer's markets — from which to access local food. 

RESOURCES:  See what's in season, with Food First NL's Local Food Seasonality Chart

 Find a farm near you, with the NL Farm Guide

Studies show that by sitting down and enjoying a regular meal with family or friends, we tend to eat better. However, we know with that with busy schedules, making the time to cook and eat together is often easier said than done. We wanted to hear what strategies our community has for making this easier, and got a range of responses!

RESOURCE: Heart and Stroke Foundations's tips for eating together

Week 2:

We started the week off with one of our favourite topics: growing food! Sarah Crocker, Food First NL's Public Education and Outreach Coordinator, talked about the market garden that she operates, and many people from our community chimed in with their own growing experiences. Click below to join the conversation!

RESOURCE: Food First NL's 8 Food Skills Workshops

Question number two was all about cooking! In a perfect world, we'd have all the time and ingredients we needed to make meals from scratch every day—but we know that's not always the case! It can be challenging to balance your time, but when it works out, it always feels worth it. 

RESOURCES:  Food First NL's Workshop on Preparing Local Vegetables

Dietitians of Canada Recipe Cookspiration Website

Do you plan your meals? Shop with a list? Make time for cooking? Keep a well stocked pantry? These are just some of the things that might make it easier to eat better at home. But it's certainly not an exhaustive list. Luckily, our community chimed in with some other suggestions.

RESOURCES: Government of Canada's Meal Planning Tips

Eastern Health's Guide to a Well-Stocked Pantry

Author Michael Pollan has a rule: “Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself”—the idea being that by making it yourself, you will use whole ingredients, it will be less processed and more healthy. Food First NL's Elling Lien took that to heart and tried to make Doritos from scratch—find out more at the link below!

RESOURCES: Michael Pollan's Food Rules

Homemade, Vegan Doritos Recipe

Everyone has their own tips and tricks when it comes to cooking in the kitchen, so we thought we'd see who was willing to share their secrets! Click the link below to learn—or teach others—something new!

RESOURCES: How to quickly peel a hard boiled egg

The secret to peeling an avocado

Pressure Canning Moose Meat

Quickly peel a head of garlic

Week 3:

Food is powerful—the taste, smell and texture of food can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back memories not just of eating food itself but also of place and setting. We thought this question might generate a lot of discussion, and we were right—people love talking about food! Click below to join the conversation!

Composting is a great way to not only reduce the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of, but also to convert it into a product that is useful for gardening, landscaping, or house plants. It's also a lot easier to get into than many people may think! Click below to read about our community's experiences with composting, and to add your own.

RESOURCES: Food First NL's Compost Guide

Island Compost - A St John's composting business

Newfoundland and Labrador faces many challenges when it comes to accessing healthy, affordable food. As a geographically dispersed, isolated province that relies on outside food sources, many of our communities face high costs, low quality, and low availability of fresh foods. Have you ever felt this in your community?

RESOURCES: Why do we need to put food first in Newfoundland and Labrador?

From community gardens and kitchens, to cooking classes and composting workshops, there are a ton of great food initiatives happening across the province! We're lucky enough to see and interact with a lot of them on a daily basis, but we want to know - what are some of your favourites?

RESOURCES: Food First NL's Best Practice Guides

Community Healthy Living Fund - Support for Food Programs

NL Wellness Coalitions - Small Grants to Support Wellness Programs

Whether you are the next Jamie Oliver, or a cooking newbie—everyone has ways they can improve in the kitchen. Do you find poaching eggs tricky? How's your handle on making a salad dressing? Ever kneaded dough? There are many skills to acquire, and even more resources available to help make it happen—all you have to do it try!   

RESOURCES: Food First NL's Workshop on Preparing Vegetables

A Step-by-Step Guide to Blanching Vegetables

NL is very dependent on outside food sources -- 90% of the fresh vegetables and fruits available through major grocery stores in NL are grown outside of the province. That’s a lot of food travelling long distances to make it to our communities. 

RESOURCES: NL Local Food Seasonality Chart

NL Farm Guide