Manitoba Food Producers' Association's Christmas reception. The MFPA represents many of Manitoba's local food producers, and as an avowed locavore and champion of local groceries, of course I was pleased to attend.
Aside from the delicious, locally-made food I was bound to find there (and which did not disappoint), I was particularly interested in speaking with a few people. I was glad to find the Buy Manitoba representatives at their station: Megan and Gemma are lovely ladies who were happy to explain things to me. There have been some rumblings among the Manitoba Food Bloggers and others about the generous definition of local that Buy Manitoba uses - apparently it extends to soft drinks bottled in the province by multinational companies, and to Safeway eggs which might come from any of four provinces in a given carton. I am hopeful that somebody from Buy Manitoba will respond and tell us how Coke is a local producer.
I have to say, though, that pretty much everything I saw at the Caboto Centre that night was definitely locally made. Cakes from Gunn's and Jeanne's, delightful northern pike cooked on the spot, Bothwell cheeses, locally made samosas and sausages. I even found Manitoba birch syrup, which I can't wait to get and try.
I somehow missed Constance Popp's chocolates, which makes me very sad. All I can think of is that she must have got there after I left, which was pretty early as I had to go see my sons sing and dance (ah, the things we do for love. They were wonderful, though).
Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Intiatives - in particular, their Food Safety people. I asked them what they thought about the illegality of raw milk in this province, and I got a remarkable range of responses (all off the record, I should add). One person told me she was completely against legalising raw milk, and that in her opinion people shouldn't be able to buy raw meat, either. Another representative referred me to the movie "Forks Over Knives", which espouses a vegan diet. A third was more supportive of the availability of raw milk to adults, but was understandably concerned about the dangers of trying to introduce it into a mass market. We agreed that maybe farm gates sales would be safest, as well as some serious labelling and education. Both of the latter two mentioned (and promptly emailed to me the next day as promised) some reports that have recently surfaced in Indiana - a FAQ sheet from Purdue University, and a report prepared by the Indiana Board of Animal Health for Indiana legislators. While both of them express trepidation about possible health issues, it is clear that the debate is far from over.
What do you think, should Coke that is bottled in this province be considered locally made? And should we be able to buy raw milk at the farm gate, if it is accompanied by a fact sheet on how to use it safely? Or should we ban raw meat, too?
Let me know what you think!