Epicurious: Our fields, by fork 

Exploring local food systems at the third annual Sea to Sky Feast of Fields

Many of Whistler’s most popular restaurants emphasize their use of local products, whether it’s seafood from Squamish or produce from north of Whistler. But have you ever wondered why it matters that your potatoes come from Pemberton, rather than P.E.I.?

That’s where Astrid Cameron Kent comes in.

She knows a lot about our local food system. Through her business, Astrid’s Fine Foods, she distributes fine artisan’s products, like cheeses, to local restaurants and grocery stores, working with farmers to source products, and managing the relationship between producer and client.

“It’s not that easy to just have your business go all local and green, and you do need support,” she explained.

Aside from her private business endeavours, Cameron Kent was one of the panelists at the first Anything Grows discussion, which took place at MY Millennium Place last week. Her message to the audience was simple and straightforward: take small, mindful actions towards supporting local farmers, and celebrate food.

She is also the director of Slow Food Sea to Sky, a branch of the global non-profit organization, and helps to organize the annual Feast of Fields, which raises money for Farm Folk City Folk, a provincially registered charity that helps to educate people and showcase how easy it actually is to enjoy and explore the local food systems.

“It’s all about celebrating food, celebrating life, bringing the community together through the culture of food,” she said of the Aug. 30 Feast of Fields in Whistler.

But Cameron Kent didn’t always have such an enthusiastic view of food.

She has been an avid athlete for years, but up until about nine years ago, she was living on a steady diet of Starbucks and packaged food.

“I was getting kind of sick, and I went to a naturopath and he said, ‘start eating straight from the ground.’”

Though she had grown up in a household with a large garden, Cameron Kent hadn’t embraced her family’s wholesome attitude towards food.

“My mother had a big garden and I resisted it my whole upbringing,” she said with a laugh. “And I hated the work.”

But her visit to the naturopath led her to begin eating a steady diet of unprocessed, natural foods. After returning to her roots, literally and figuratively, her health issues disappeared.

Now, Cameron Kent wants to help others understand the value and power of natural, locally grown food.

While there are plenty of ways to learn more about the Sea to Sky’s food systems, the 2008 Feast of Fields is a great place to start. You’ll have an opportunity to speak with chefs, farmers and foodies about some of the key issues surrounding food production, and get to enjoy some delicious cuisine and wine while you’re at it.

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