MEAL – Next Steps

UPDATE (November, 2011)!  We are offering up a second helping of MEAL! We’ve moved our website to a more permanent address. Please visit as at http://meeteatandlearn.wordpress.com  to learn more about An Island MEAL, and mark December 8th , 2011 on your calendar!!

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What an overwhelming success A Local MEAL turned out to be!!! When we started talking about this event, we envisioned perhaps an audience of 50 or so, most of whom we assumed would be friends and family. When guests starting arriving half an hour before the event was supposed to start, that was the first clue that we *might* have more folks than we initially expected. Indeed, it turned out to be ‘standing room’ only, with estimates that we had more than 200 people in attendance.

The food was amazing. Huge thanks to our volunteer chefs who were hiding out in the kitchen all night plating out a feast of delicious concoctions including stuffed baby potatoes, striploin beef, mussels with a blueberry vinagrette, pulled pork on potato slices, and panacotta on shortbread, to name but a few of the treats. Some folks have requested recipes for these culinary delights and we’re happy to oblige.

If I were to pinpoint one concrete part of the night as a highlight, it would have to be the speakers’ presentations. We had 9 speakers lined up to do Pecha Kucha presentations on topics they were passionate about, from eating in line with evolution, to the importance of organics, to connecting farmers and consumers, to the power of urban agriculture. Each and every presentation was phenomenal, and I could hardly believe it when the final talk was done. Time had flown by, and the audience had remained enraptured with the speakers. For those that missed the evening or those that want a replay, we’re delighted to be able to provide  videos of all the speakers thanks to Nick’s awesome videography skills.

Eggs played a prominent part in the night. We kicked off the presentations with a special guest talk from Paul Offer, the gentleman who was told last week that he and his wife are not allowed to serve their B & B guests the free-range eggs from their farm because they are not inspected.  His speech set the tone for the night. I loved his last line ‘when I go into a government bureaucrat’s office and cry, he asks me to leave, but when I go into my garden and cry tears, my garden thanks me for feeding it’ (or something like that!).   At the end of the presentations, we thought it was quite apropos to give out door prizes…we had 10 dozen eggs to give away …free-range, un-inspected eggs!!

While I mentioned the tangible highlight of the evening was the presenters, the really amazing thing was the energy in the room. It was palpable (which, is, I suppose the same as tangible!). There was just so much positivity and enthusiasm, it was amazing! If I ever had a shadow of a doubt about whether the event was worth the efforts necessary to make it happen, they were obliterated last night! My mind is churning – what do we do next? where do we go from here? how to we harness that energy and keep the momentum going? how can we transform conversations and enthusiasm into concrete actions that will help move our local food system forward?

So many questions! And while the answers may not be clear yet, in the wake of last evening, I am left feeling quite confident that we will work our way towards those answers, that there are enough of us on this Island that care about building a strong, local food economy that we can move mountains, or at least rolling hills! So please, if you were at A Local MEAL or if you wanted to be there, consider that last night was not just a one-off event, but hopefully a part of something bigger, part of a growing community of people who do care about their food system. I talked with a number of farmers last night, and they all gave me really positive feedback about the event. One farmer said that he and other farmers had been doing local food promotion for many years, but A Local MEAL was something different, because it was eaters (aka consumers) who had decided to promote local food. We’re all in this together folks, we all have to eat to survive, so the stakes are high. Hold on to that energy that was abuzz in the Farm Centre last night, and we will progress.

It all started with an invitation to A Local MEAL

Hungry to meet with others that share your passion for ‘local food’?  Have an appetite to learn what’s going on in your own community?  Come join in an informal evening intended to bring together people who are passionate about good food, about small-scale, local and/or organic food on PEI, and about the health of our environment, our selves, and our children.

Chefs, farmers, sellers, eaters and other ‘food folk’ will share unique stories sure to intrigue and inspire! There will also be plenty of time to mingle and enjoy a small sampling of “local fare” in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.  If you are interested in Meeting, Eating And Learning, then join in an evening that promises to be delicious and fulfilling!

This Local M.E.A.L. will take place on Thursday, March 24th at 6.30 pm at The Farm Centre (420 University Avenue, Charlottetown.  Special thanks to The Farm  Centre for supporting this initiative. This event is free and open to all, just bring your enthusiasm!

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9 Responses to MEAL – Next Steps

  1. Muriel Brown says:

    Thank you for the invitation- I will do my best to be there as food is a high interest for me (weather permitting)

  2. Rev Don MacPherson says:

    Regrets as I am teaching a class at that time. I have a high interest in local foods. I keep in touch with Ivan Johnson from Lot 16 to learn how the community of Faith can be of assistance in this regard.
    Blessing for your commitment
    Don

  3. Neil says:

    Last night’s event was amazing! The energy in the room was higher than anything I’ve ever attended. It’s proof that there really are people that care where their food comes from and are willing to take time out of their busy lives to learn more about, and become involved in, our local food production. My hat goes off to all the presenters, who did a great job delivering a lot of information in a short amount of time.

    The food was amazing, the event went off without a hitch, I want to congratulate everyone that organized, and volunteered at, this event. You did an amazing job!

  4. John Quimby says:

    It was a wonderful opportunity to meet, share and listen. Thanks to everyone who worked to put together such an effective event.

  5. Pat & Jane Dunphy says:

    We really enjoyed the presentations last night. It was the first time we had experienced Pecha Kucha (sp?). and a very good thing about the format is that my quite deaf husband was able to follow the presentations probably as well as I was because of the high visual content. It was really satisfying to both of us! Thanks to all.

  6. Tom Rath says:

    What a great event it was. Those who couldn’t attend are almost as fortunate – because the incredible eye-opening presentations are being put online within a few days. Seek them out, and spread the word.

  7. Lobie says:

    It was great to see such a crowd keen to get more involved with local food – reminiscent of the bustling crowds at the ACORN conference earlier in March. I had deadline work to deal with, so I could not stay for the whole M.E. A. L. event, but I did manage to chat with Paul Offer out in the hallway and to check out the kitchen action. Congratulations on spreading the word – it is unusual to see that many people at the Farm Centre on a weekday evening.

  8. Tony Reddin & Marion Copleston says:

    what a natural high from all the great people energy and delicious food- how did they do that miracle of the loaves and fishes?!

    Please mark your calendars for this play on May 6th- Bouffe- a colourful, hilarious, bilingual production, set in a fast food restaurant, that explores many culinary issues such as food security and eating locally. Check the May Buzz for details, or on the buzzon.com website calendar.

    Free (the) Chicken(s)!

  9. Just going over “WEEKLY FLYERS” and notice Supper Store will have either Canada AAA or USDA grade beef …. Question is there a shortage of CANADIAN BEEF?? WE NEED TO DEMAND LOCAL PRODUCT!

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