Here comes the sun

I was very touched this week, feeling the power of Mother Nature in those times it can make us seem small and insignificant. It happened a few times; once I was left feeling overwhelmed with joy at being able to experience life, another time I felt helpless and ashamed to be representing our species. Have you ever had times like that?

One experience was an educational event hosted by Farm Folk City Folk and Slow Food Thompson Okanagan. We saw a documentary about bees called "Queen of the Sun", which discusses some of the possible dangers that can result from colony collapse disorder. What would our planet be like without bees? Not very prosperous from a garden perspective, I can tell you that much. I was crestfallen to see so many horrible illustrations of our disregard for nature. One of the examples they gave to illustrate the out-of-balance ecosystems we have created was the almond groves in California. Did you know that 600,000 acres of land is uniquely planted to almond trees? These trees bloom for about three weeks each year, and they need the blossoms to be pollinated for nuts to form. Bees do that, but they can't live where there is nothing to feed on for most of the year. So, in February (when almonds bloom - but bees are sleeping) there are truckloads of bees that are brought to the Central Coast in California. The bees have to be woken up, so they are fed high fructose corn syrup to get a buzz going (pun fully intended here of course). Need I point out the irony, of feeding corn syrup to the creatures that make honey? The bees do their job, but in mixing bees from across the continent together we expose them all to viruses and other detrimental forces that they might not see in their home region. It's like a large group of children in a daycare - once one gets sick, it's likely the others will too. How many ways does this not sound like a good solution to keeping almond farmers in business? Monoculture planting, where large tracts of land have only one variety of plant, are detrimental to the ecosystem in many ways, not the least of which is that bees often can't survive in this type of environment. There were other examples of challenges bees face, like the pesticides that affect their ability to remember their way so they can't get back to the hive and queens that are bred commercially and artificially inseminated and don't seem to live as long as the queens who used to exist and breed naturally. We left the evening feeling so terribly disappointed... humankind seems only to realize it can't squeeze every last drop of every resource out of the planet when things start to die off and jeopardize our own existence. Why must we always need to go to the brink of extinction before we back off?

My redemption came in my own garden, and in time spent with children. My sunny mornings at Rabbit Hollow spent watering the veggies and berries and edible flowers are wonderful therapy. Knowing that the birds and bugs and plants all exist happily together in our little corner of the world is great solace. The buzz of bees in the morning and the swish of swaying bachelor's buttons is beautiful music. Nothing makes me smile more than to see our dogs, Ella and Simon, poaching golden raspberries off the back branches. There is plenty for everyone to eat, and they are easily distracted away by the prospect of a passer-by who needs greeting or a bird that needs chasing. I am proud to know that the creatures and plants all have a purpose they can fulfil in our yard. I got that same feeling in the school classroom with our Growing Chefs group too, as we showed the children how the veggies they grew on their windowsill could become soup and stirfry. Some of the kids were amazed to taste pea soup made from peas they shelled, shouting out incredulously, "It tastes like peas!" Others had never tasted stirfry, and were suspicious of a dish with so many veggies but in tasting it they learned they liked it. They even wanted the recipe! There is hope if we can teach Grade 3 and 4 kids that broccoli, beans, mushrooms and onions are not as evil as they think.

I suppose we have to take our experiences one at a time, and learn from them all. I hope I can do more good than harm to our planet, so that future children can enjoy it as much as I do. Maybe if we consider the long term effects our actions have, that will help us understand the impact we make on our planet.


On a much smaller scale, and far less ponderous note, I will close with something celebratory. Next weekend heralds the official beginning of summer, and to help ring in the outdoor season I will be with my partner, Chef Martin of The Chef Instead, serving up some southern style BBQ fare for all to enjoy. We will be at the Tree Brewing Beer Institute on Water Street in Kelowna for Barbecue "Meats" Beer (get it?) Come down for an affordable taste of some great summer food and drink. We start at noon, and keep going till we run out :)

The Chef Instead's award-winning BBQ fare, and local craft beer

Saturday, June 20th @ Tree Brewing Beer Institute

starting at noon

Hope to see you there!

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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