Larkin Schmiedl's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘culinary arts program

Meat on campus: a microcosm

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Local meat without added hormones or antibiotics is what the people want to buy, but it’s not always what’s cost-effective.

Jason Cochran is a faculty member in the Retail Meat Processing program at Thompson Rivers University (TRU).  He handles most of the meat ordering for the program, as well as for the neighbouring Culinary Arts program.

The program runs the Meat Store, which is open every Thursday on campus to sell the cuts of meat the students have made.

The customers want local meat, Cochran said, and so that’s what’s in the store, but, “the local beef actually costs me more than the feedlot beef.”  It comes from a ranch just north of Barriere.

The beef the culinary arts program uses on the other hand almost all comes as boxed beef, and it’s from a slaughterhouse in Alberta.

It’s feedlot beef, Cochran told me, and there’s a 99 per cent certainty the animal has been fed hormones and antibiotics throughout its life.

When you buy boxed beef, he said, it could be from three or four animals from anywhere in Alberta or even B.C. mixed up together.  The majority of B.C. beef, he told me, is shipped to Alberta to be slaughtered.

There are two local provincially-inspected slaughterhouses according to Cochran however.  One is called Kam Lake View Meats, and is located in Kamloops.  The other is Rainer Meats and is situated north of Barriere.

Cochran said local beef can be difficult to source because he needs a consistent source of meat.  He also listed the need to trust the supplier and to have a relationship with them as concerns.

The majority of the beef comes into the meat cutting program in the fall he said.

In a typical program year, Cochran will order 15 to 16 cows, which will cost approximately $40,000 altogether.  This would make each cow approximately $2,500.

The two other main types of meat in the Meat Store are chicken and pork.  Each come from a different slaughterhouse in the Lower Mainland.

The chicken is entirely hormone and antibiotic-free, whereas the pork gets one treatment of antibiotics in its lifetime.

Besides operating the Meat Store, the retail meat processing program also sells sides of beef, bulk chicken, does customer orders, and processes meat for both hunters and some local farmers.

Food-involved folks gather and make things happen at the Kamloops Food Policy Council

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Kamloops Food Bank. Photo by Larkin Schmiedl.

They were gathered around a long table up a long flight of stairs on the second floor of the Kamloops Food Bank building.  The Kamloops Food Policy Council (KFPC) is a group of keen food-involved folks from a wide range of organizations and backrounds, with common visions to promote the strength of the local food system.

Each of the KFPC’s members comes from a particular place, and in that place, they are each making food localization a concrete reality, in all different ways.

The KFPC is where they come to collaborate, check in and connect.

Ed Walker is starting a revolution among chefs in Kamloops.  He is the chair of the school of culinary arts at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), and is also the founder of the Thompson-Shuswap Chef Farmer Collaborative.

The collaborative was started to link local chefs with local farmers–and as the best chefs know, the most delicious, quality ingredients come fresh, local and well-grown.  Walker said he wants to make it easier for local food to get into local restaurants.

The Chef Farmer Collaborative was started in just 2010, and has grown exponentially.  It is a non-profit, and to date boasts over 70 members, both farmers and chefs.

The Collaborative is modelled after the Island Chefs Collaborative started by David Mincey and based in Victoria, B.C.

At the Thompson-Shuswap Collaborative’s annual general meeting (AGM) coming up Feb. 12, it will be announcing its newest program–a non-profit loan system that will be available to offer no-interest loans to folks interested in starting up projects or with good ideas for increasing the productivity of an existing one.  The loans will be available to businesses, whereas the already-existing grants are available to non-profits.

The AGM takes place at the Culinary Arts building on TRU’s campus at 10 a.m.

Walker said he hopes to ultimately see chapters of chef-farmer collaboratives all over Canada.

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On the Culinary Arts building’s roof, there are animals.  Hive animals.  Walker’s colleague, another faculty member in the culinary arts program, is beekeeping up there.  He took a course and learned how to do it, and set up the apiary sometime last year.  More on this in upcoming blog entries, so stay tuned.

Culinary Arts is also trying to get a garden in front of its building, to grow produce for use in cooking.

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The Kamloops Food Policy Council’s AGM is also coming up; March 1 at 6 p.m. at the Henry Grube Centre, their AGM will be a potluck and meeting, and will be themed “Public Produce.”

Elaine Sedgman, a member of the group, will be speaking about edible landscapes in schools.  She said she hopes school gardens can become a more common feature in Kamloops.  She said Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project garden in Berkeley, California is one of her inspirations.

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In terms of edible landscaping here in Kamloops, there is a push to have more streetscape plants be edibles.

The Public Produce Garden here in town, built and first planted this past summer, is also going to be moving to the North Shore in summer 2012.

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One very interesting new local project is the Kamloops Community Food System of 1948 mapping project.  Check out their website.  The group is presently reaching out to schoolteachers in hopes that their maps and resources can be used in classrooms when complete.

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Another new local project that’s just gotten funding is Thompson-Shuswap Food Connections.  This group is looking to link institutional buyers such as the hospital, the University and the prison with local farmers.

Stage two of the project is planned to be a look at local processing facilities.

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Kamloops Seedy Saturday is an annual seed-swapping and workshop event that is happening Feb. 25 this year.  More details to come on this.

Seedy Saturday is a Canada-wide event taking place in many communities.  The idea is for gardeners to get together to share different seed varieties, especially but not limited to those bred and grown locally.

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There is a new community garden in Kamloops called the Wilson House garden.

The organizers of the garden recently received a TD Canada Trust “Friends of the Environment” grant to finish construction (which mostly meant buying the soil to put in the already-built garden).

All other community garden plots in Kamloops are booked for the 2012 summer season.  There are a few left available at Wilson House.

Here is a map with contact numbers for the community garden plots in Kamloops.

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Thanks for reading, and please come back for more information weekly.

Larkin

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