North Cowichan Household Challenge Week 4 check-in:

Noni Battye, Maple Bay

Mmm…food! I think this has been our favourite topic in this challenge. We’ve been learning more where our food comes from and being more conscious about what we pick up from the store. Some hasn’t been much of a challenge as we have some staples that already come from Vancouver Island.

Over the past few years, we’ve made an attempt to have more slow food that the family prepares together – not easy with a busy family involved in various things. We take turns cooking throughout the week, planning ahead what the meals will be, then helping each other out in the kitchen. It’s a big change from the "what can we throw together that’s quick" mentality we had and have found that the meals don’t necessarily take longer and we feel better eating the fresher food rather than the processed stuff.

This challenge has happened to fall on the first year that we have done a "real" garden (more than a couple of tomato plants and some carrots and onions) in our back yard. The garden has been easier than we thought and we’re pleasantly surprised that the produce lasts longer than store bought.

We’ve also been learning how to process through canning and freezing to make it last us even longer. The items that don’t hold as well, or that we have incredible quantities of, we have started to trade with family or neighbours for other items, such as eggs, herbs or apples.

I don’t know if it’s psychological or what, but the food that we grow or know that comes from nearby seems to just taste better.

Franya Jedwab, Tamara Leigh, and Gabriel, Crofton

This week our family enjoyed discussing and reaping the benefits of locally grown foods. We have been canning from our vegetable garden for the past couple of months, and planning to make salsa from the abundance of tomatoes we have had this year. It was amazing to learn about some of the delicious foods that some of the other families in the challenge were preparing, and to share recipes and ideas this way. This has been a valuable experience in learning more about nutrition and reducing our carbon footprint, a benefit to each member of our family.

Tyrone Mills, Somenos

Week four has been a lot of fun for us. We are "regulars" at the Farmers Market, but have made a greater effort to try and eliminate as much packaged/processed or "long distance" food as we can. We have a modest garden (which we are looking forward to expanding next year) and supplemented that with veggies from the market and local farms.

When shopping, our first choice was Valley grown, second was Island grown, followed by B.C. grown. We are used to checking the labels of what we buy to see what is in it; it was in interesting twist trying to determine where it came from as well. Thankfully, between the Farmers Market, Community Farm Store and the grocery stores that feature Island Grown and B.C. Grown food, we managed to do pretty well.

It was really quite eye opening to see just how far some of our prior food choices had travelled.