Saturday, December 12, 2009

An Apple A Day...But From Where?

"You should watch this movie," said Steve to me. As co-owner of Pomodori, Rothesay's Italian style wood-fired pizza restaurant, Steve's advice is taken seriously, especially when it concerns food. The movie of note, Food Inc., was definitely of interest to me.

I arrived home an hour later to find the following message in my e-mail inbox...

This will speak to the already converted, but you may want to rent:

It's right up your alley!

This message was from another fine foodie friend. The same morsel of advice, arriving within 90 minutes of each other...looks like we've reached the tipping point!

I have yet to rent the movie, mostly because our local general store owner prefers to rent movies that feature violence or soft porn, sometimes together! Alas, it's not easy being me.

I couldn't sleep this morning, so I announced to my wife, at 5:45 a.m., that I was going into Fredericton for a visit to the city's farmers' market. and off I went into the brisk darkness of the morn. It was windy and minus ten, but a crescent moon and a starry sky made me feel alive.

I scoured the market for local goods, as much as possible, but also slutted around the vendors who sold items from afar. My Cotswald cheese, for example, did not get its start in the Maritimes. Once in a while I'll go off the wagon and buy non-local cheese, but not too often.

I bought some apple cider from David Coburn. I've known David for at least half of my life, let's say twenty-three years. David runs the family farm in Keswick Ridge. I'm relatively certain that the Coburn family has been doing this for a long time. David started selling apples and eggs at the market forty years ago, when he was nine.

David Coburn is a farmer. He always has been. Hopefully he always will be, but there is no guarantee. He wants to be a farmer, that's for sure. He currently manages ten acres of apples for cider production, as well as raising thousands of chickens for their eggs. Sounds impressive, until you hear David speak of the good old days.

His family used to have one hundred acres of apples, now it's down to ten. The market, with cheap imports, has dictated that local growers must surrender to economic forces. It's sad that it happens to farmers, because they're going to be our best friends in the future. And we're going to need them to be local.

David shared a startling statistic with me....there used to be five hundred acres of apples under production on Keswick Ridge. That number is now down to seventy acres, and fifty of those acres are for sale.

Imagine a future where there were no local apple growers. Imagine a future where oil shortages made transporting apples across the country unprofitable. Where are you going to find your apples? I bought some apple cider from David because:

a) it's delicious,

b) I want him to be there. Next week. Next year.

Do you know where your apples are coming from? Do you support local farmers? Do you have any clue where any of your food comes from? I do. Steve at Pomodori does. David Coburn does, but what about you?

Here's an image of David his the Boyce Farmers' Market...forty years and counting.

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