Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An Assortment of Activities and Adventures

I'm not even going to make apologies for my blogging absence over the past two months, it is what it is. That being said, I am back now and ready to write more regularly! It's been awhile, so I thought I'd share some of the food-related activities and adventures I've been on or will soon be going on. Additionally, it wouldn't be a Shanadian post without a bit of a rant (if you want to go directly to rant, it is under the title How NOT to Keep Me As Your Grocery Store Customer).


I'm certain there's no correlation between the five pounds I gained during April and the fact that PEI was celebrating Burger Love, the 2nd Annual celebration of PEI beef that challenges local restaurants to create a delectable, original burger that will woo eaters and be crowned PEI's most loved burger. I mean, really, I only ate 7 or 8 of the 22 burgers on offer *cough*. I tried, with little success, to convince Charles that we should stick to one burger a week. When he insisted he was going to have two a week, I encouraged him to go on his own while I was at work. This was a mistake, as he came home absolutely raving about The Angry Irishman he had at the Olde Dublin Pub. We made a trip there a couple of nights later and I had a bite of his second Angry Irishman - it stole my heart. There were some contenders though, including Casa Mia's, the Brickhouse's, and Papa Joe's (the overall PEI Burger Love winner). In addition to loving the burgers I tried, I also absolutely loved winning not just one Burger Love prize, but TWO Burger Love prizes, just by rating the burgers and providing a recipe for my 'at home burger'. I won a $20 gift card for a restaurant in one draw, and an apron, reusable bag, recipe book and 10 pounds of beef in the other draw. I really love winning things.


Speaking of winning things, it turns out that Tuesday, May 22nd was an especially generous day to this Shanadian. Simply by sending an email to CBC Mainstreet saying how I support the PEI local food industry, my name was drawn as the winner of two tickets to the Savour Food and Wine show. I was so ecstatic when I found out, as I really, really wanted to go to this event, but couldn't justify the $75 splurge or find someone else that would accompany me for that ticket price. A bit of a dilemma to choose my date, as Mr. Wonderful was to be working. I made a short list of the people I know who appreciate both wine and food, and contacted her (yes, there was only one!!). She was unavailable. I then made a short list of the people I know who enjoy food, booze and having fun. I contacted her and she was available! So off I went to the Savour Food and Wine show with comrade, Jen Mac (if you click on the link, you'll see her latest entry is very food-themed). I'm not going to give a detailed run-down of the event, but here some random observations and lessons learned from my first ever Savour Show:

  • It's really hard to eat things that need to be cut/spooned while holding a glass of wine.
  • It's even harder to eat any type of food while holding a wine glass in one hand and a glass of rum and fruity mix in the other hand.
  • Moosehead Mojito = surprisingly refreshing. (Jen will correct me if it wasn't a Moosehead product)
  • Meatballs on little pieces of bread will roll off the plate and splatter on the floor.
  • Men serve food, women serve wine. Rather the opposite of most restaurants.
  • Orange and basil ice cream is delicious
  • Peanut butter ball melted on a mini pancake is to die for. Thank you Chef Dave Mottershall!!
  • You will see at least 5 people you know, one of whom will not recognize you because you've changed your hair/weight/age.
  • There IS a maximum number of bite-sized samples that can fit into one's stomach
  • 2 hours is about 1 hour too short for a food and wine festival.
  • It REALLY helps if you know one of the people serving wine, as you can ensure that you get your money's worth (or you free win's worth) after everyone else has left
  • There are a LOT of excellent restaurants and chefs on PEI. We should all make an effort to support our local food industry in every way that we can!

Omg! Omg! Omg! Yes, that's right, I am jumping up and down with the sort of glee usually expressed only by pre-teens that have tickets to a Justin Bieber concert. Well, I've got something WAY better to look forward to. I have been accepted into a short, intensive program at the University of Vermont called Breakthrough Leaders Program. It's geared towards people who are/want to be leaders in the Food Revolution and aims to arm us with the knowledge and skills to breakthrough some of the common barriers to change and become better leaders. Did I mention that I'm SUPER excited!?!

The program is 2 weeks, although one week is online, so it's really only one week on campus, from June 24 to June 29th. The class of 30 will be going on plenty of field trips, learning from all sorts of leaders in the food movement and getting plenty of time to network. One full day will be spent in Hardwick, a tiny town in northern Vermont that was the subject of my Masters thesis. It'll be nice to return there. I miss it a lot. I felt so very much at home in Vermont, amongst the progressives, the hippies, the environmentalists, and the do-gooders. It's like no other place I've ever been. So, as you can imagine, I'm making efforts to extend my stay in the states for an extra little bit of vacation time. I am thinking about going to Montreal (only 1.5 hrs away) for Canada Day, then popping back down to Vermont for Independence Day. It'll be great fun, regardless of how the plans come together. Hoping I get to see some of my favorite Vermont folk including Kate, Elena, Joe and Maura!

How NOT to Keep Me As Your Grocery Store Customer

Yet another visit to the grocery store, yet more fodder for a rant. Last time it was a mother's offer to get her fat 8-year old son a Hungry Man for dinner that had me feeling queasy, this time it's signage that peeved me off.

So we decided to check out the brand new Sobeys at the edge of town. The Guardian had reported it was an out-of-this-world experience (only in PEI does the opening of a grocery store warrant a news story with a photo to boot). To say I was underwhelmed when I walked into the store would be an understatement. It's just another grocery store (in case you were holding out for a trip to celebrate some special anniversary, don't bother). But I needed groceries, so my love and I wandered the perimeter of the store, where all the fresh, decent food is to be found. Then my love suggested going down the cereal aisle. I have no use for cereal these days, but am trying to be mindful of the fact that most normal people still want a bowl of cereal for breakfast, and most even think it's nutritious!!! Ha. Anyways, we turned down the aisle, and Mr. Wonderful is like 'uh oh, you're not going to like this, but try to stay calm'. I couldn't figure out what he was talking about and then he pointed to the big signs jutting out from the shelves to help shoppers find the type of cereal they are looking for. The labels were as follows: ADULT CEREAL, FAMILY CEREAL, KID CEREAL. I put these in Caps because they were really big signs.

I already knew what I'd find in each section, but I held my breath until the very end of the aisle, where the 'KID CEREAL' was to be found. It turns out that ADULTS are meant to eat things like Fibre 1 and Shredded Wheat, FAMILIES are meant to eat things like Life Cereal and Cheerios, while KIDS are meant to eat Cocoa Puffs, Reese's PB Cereal, Lucky Charms....well, you get the idea.

I felt my heart beat faster. I felt my blood pressure rising. This is NOT cool. I don't like the idea that these food products are produced at all, but to market them as the food we should be feeding kids is absolutely disgraceful. Again, I realise it's up to the parents to make the final decision but can you imagine if you brought your kid shopping and went to buy him/her some healthier 'Adult' Cereal, the backlash you'd have to put up with. I suspect most kids would rebut with something like 'But that's not for me, look, those are the cereals for kids'. Kids are a major influence in decision-making of purchases, and food companies do their best to get kids begging their parents to buy sugar-laden foods. Now the grocers are in on the plot!!!

Here's my suggestion for Sobeys: relabel your cereals honestly. Here are some better and more accurate labels:

Won't Cause Your Child Significant Health Risks - Fibre 1, Shredded Wheat

Is Alright in Moderation, But Serve with Protein and Fresh Fruit - Cheerios, Original Rice Krispies

CANDY That Will Damage Your Child's Physical and Mental Health and Cause Them to Have Sugar Highs and Lows that Will Drive you Insane: Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, etc.

-The End-


Raeanne said...

Labels? Seriously? NOT REQUIRED! Send a note to the store manager - that's disgraceful.

Charles Hollyer said...

So we're going to stop shopping at Sobey's now, right?

Shannon Courtney said...

The options are limited. Obviously in summer we shop at farmers market, have our veg CSA, our garden and our meat CSAs from Raymond. Sobeys is better than Atlantic Superstore in terms of carrying local products, but I suppose Co-op is the best option in the summer when we'll just need the basics. Also, Mr. Hollyer, didn't you try to sneak a box of Candy Cereal into the cart as I was turning red from anger at the signs? :)

Jen said...

They could also re-label cereal based on when it's advertised.
"During cartoons"
"During primetime sitcoms"
"During Law & Order"

I add loooooads of sugary cereal when I was young and still enjoy the *very* occasional bowl almost as dessert. I can see why parents buy cereal though - cheap/serving, kids can serve it themselves. I feel "cereal isn't real food" isn't common knowledge yet, so maybe someday soon the cereal aisle will start shrinking.

Also do add to your beef list, Superstore is doing the same labelling with yoghurt, I saw tonight.

And it was Bud Light Lime with Mojito, not Moosehead, but close :) It's deliciousness almost felt wrong and immoral.

Jen said...

Ugh, I *ate*, not *add* cereal.

And *its*, not *it's*. I blame the lackluster meal I had at Ristorante Diem for my brain's malfunction. And not proofreading.