Did Cooking Make Us Smarter?
The Recipe for Improved Intelligence

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
February 21, 2019

What did the advent of cooking bring to human development? Scientific evidence suggests cooking our food may have made us more intelligent.

Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania where humans evolved. Did cooking make us human?

Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania


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Bringing Back Ancient Grains and Seeds
Growing Old World Grains in Gardens and on Small Farms

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 17, 2019

Ancient grains are making a comeback, as farmers, millers, artisan bakers and diners seek them out for their exceptional flavour, nutrition, and low-gluten content.

The heritage wheat, barley, rye, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa and flax at Dan Jason’s farm come in many colours. In August, at Salt Spring Seeds, the fields shimmer with blue, gold, and purple seeds and grains. Not the kind you’d see on the large industrial farms of the prairies, but old world varieties that grow today much as they did thousands of years ago. (Article continues below video.)

Video: Bringing Back Ancient Grains & Seeds


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Oh No, Not the Beer!
Barley, Hops, and the Future of Beer

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 6, 2019

Beer lovers take note: barley a key ingredient in beer is in trouble around the world.

Glass of Beer. Oh No, Not the Beer: Barley, Hops, and the Future of Beer.A recent article in Nature Plants warns that increasing episodes of extreme drought and heat due to climate warming will cause a decrease in world barley production. Today, beer is brewed most commonly from partially germinated (malted) barley. To find out about the effects of climate change on beer, researchers modeled the effects of more frequent droughts and heat waves on 23 barley-growing regions around the world. Under the worst case conditions, barley yields would decrease by 17% and beer prices would double on average.

In bartender speak, low barley supply means less brew to satisfy the world’s surging thirst for this popular beverage. Beer is the third most consumed liquid after water and tea, and the most popular alcoholic drink in the world. So rising costs for this valuable drink will quickly become visible to consumers.

How Beer Got Started

Farming began 10,000 years ago with the domestication of wild wheats and barley. As these grains became the food mainstay, early farmers discovered grain fermentation, and the resulting alcoholic drink we call beer. By the time the pyramids were under construction in ancient Egypt 5,000 years ago, the workers were paid in vegetables, grain, and alcohol. In 2017 the world produced approximately 140 million tons of barley, 20% of which goes for brewing beer.

Although well adapted to a wide range of climates, barley prefers temperate regions such as the northern prairies of North America. Barley does not like extreme heat and drought, which brings us to climate change…
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Colourful Scalloped Potatoes

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
November 25, 2018

RECIPE
This scalloped potato recipe celebrates the diverse colours and flavours of the much loved, yet humble potato. Red, yellow, blue and white potatoes add colour and nuanced taste to this potato classic. Make with any combination of potato colours and varieties. Topped with cheese, scalloped potatoes are a traditional favourite for special dinners and prepare-ahead entertaining.

Serves 6
Baking time: 1 hour
Colourful Scalloped Potatoes recipe. Sliced red, yellow and blue potatoes in a baking dish.6 to 8 potatoes of varied colours (red, yellow, blue, white), thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
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How We Can Regrow Sustainable Agriculture in BC
Investing in British Columbia’s Food Security

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 22, 2018

British Columbia is facing an agricultural crisis. Sixty percent of farmers in BC are over age 55, and the new young generation of farmers cannot take over.

At the same time as baby boom era farmers are retiring, speculation has driven the price of farmland higher than the ability of new farmers to buy it. Unless we find a way to make most of the farmland in the Agricultural Land Reserve affordable, and to grow enough food on it, we can expect to permanently rely on imports to feed ourselves. Two recent projects suggest a way forward for BC.

Farmland in BC. How We Can Regrow Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in BC.
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10 Tips for Year-Round Vegetable Gardens
Best Techniques for a Sustainable Four-Season Garden

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
September 25, 2018

Gardeners often ask how they can grow and harvest vegetables all year long. Here are our top ten tips for a sustainable, organic year-round garden:

Plant a winter garden. Tips for a sustainable year-round garden.


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Zucchini Pancakes

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
August 19, 2018

RECIPE

These savoury zucchini pancakes will not last long! Flavoured with sweet onions, hot out of the pan, they make a delicious side dish for meat or pasta, or a light vegetarian meal. Zucchini pancakes freeze well and are a great way to preserve an overabundance of summer squash.

zuchinni pancakes recipe from BC Farms & Food

Zuchinni pancakes are delicious hot off the griddle, topped with parmesan cheese.


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Deer Resistant Plants That Attract Pollinators
Pollinator-Attracting Herbs, Vegetables and Flowers that Deer Avoid

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 31, 2018

Bee-friendly plants that repel deer? It sounds like a gardener’s dream. As it turns out, quite a large number of flowers, herbs, and even vegetables are deer resistant pollinator plants.

Gardeners and farmers who struggle against deer damage know how difficult it is to grow flowers, fruits, and vegetables with these voracious browsers about. At the same time, growers depend on bees, flower flies, butterflies and hummingbirds to pollinate farm and garden crops. If you select carefully, you can have both together: plants that attract pollinators and are also unpalatable to deer. (Article and plant list continue below slideshow.)

Prickly plants like globe thistle, globe artichoke (above), and cardoon resist deer and are tremendous attractors of bees, when in flower. Deer also usually avoid plants with thick, leathery or spiky textures.
Plants with fuzzy leaves and hairy stems such as cucumbers, squash, borage (above), and phacelia typically turn away deer. The tiny flowers of borage and phacelia are amazing attractors of bees.
Deer avoid strong-scented herbs and aromatic flowers. The strong fragrance of marigolds (above), lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme, chamomile and other herbs can interfere with a deer’s sense of smell (which it relies on to detect danger).
Mint family plants (Lamiaceae) are reliable deer deterrents. These include bee balm, catnip, anise hyssop (above), lavender, lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, salvia, thyme, and savoury.
While deer may nibble on new spring onion shoots or chives, flowers from leeks, onions and native alliums such as Nodding onion are generally deer-resistant. Leeks (above) and other allium flowers are beautiful, powerful attractors of bees.
Deer avoid bitter-tasting plants like snowdrops, yarrow (above), foxgloves, bleeding heart and poppies (including California and Oriental poppies). Fawns learn while young to avoid these plants, which contain alkaloids.
Wildflowers, such as deer-resistant woolly sunflower (above), yarrow, and phacelia, co-evolved with pollinators for centuries. Native plants have co-relationships with specific bees and pollinators that protect diversity.
Blue, violet, white, and yellow flowers, such as salvia, lupine (above), alyssum, and zinnias are attractive to bees. Bees cannot see the colour red. They look for shallow or tubular plants with a landing platform.
Tiny clusters of flowers attract a variety of beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies, flower flies, ladybugs and parasitoid wasps, which pollinate and also prey on garden pests. Parsley, dill (above), and fennel are a prodigious draw for these beneficials.
Bright (especially violet or red) flowers, such as purple coneflower, delphinium, and cosmos (above) with wide landing pad areas attract butterflies. Hollyhocks and lupine host butterfly larvae and help support butterflies into adulthood.
Scarlet, red and orange tubular flowers such as columbine (above), comfrey and foxgloves attract hummingbirds. A hummingbird can access nectar from deep within the flower using its long narrow bill and tongue.
Yellow and white flowers, like calendula (above) are good attractors of flower flies (also known as hover flies or syrphid flies). Flower flies are valuable pollinators. Although they often look similar to wasps or bees (a mimicry they’ve developed to ward off predators), they do not sting.
 
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Prickly plants like globe thistle, globe artichoke (above), and cardoon resist deer and are tremendous attractors of bees, when in flower. Deer also usually avoid plants with thick, leathery or spiky textures.


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Why Farmland Protection is Not Enough
Report Outlines Ways to Fully Use BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 18, 2018

BC can expect to face a future of rising food prices and food shortages unless it protects and fully utilizes its Agricultural Land Reserve farmlands.

A new report from the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at Kwantlen University, shows why simply reserving land for agriculture without comprehensive programs to expand and develop farming is not effective public policy. The report, Protection is Not Enough, looks at why so much of BC’s preserved farmland is underused, and presents ways to protect and revitalize the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

Hay bales dot the landscape on this view of a BC farm. Why Farmland Protection is Not Enough
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A Movable Urban Farm
Sustainable and Profitable Small-Scale City Farming

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
June 17, 2018

On a vacant gravel building site in the heart of Victoria, Topsoil, a movable urban farm, shows what innovation can do. Looking out at the empty rooftops one day in 2013, Chris Hildreth, founder of Topsoil Innovative Urban Agriculture, had an inspiration. Could a small-scale farm on a city rooftop or unused lot be sustainable and profitable? (Article continues below video.)

Video: A Movable Urban Farm


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5 Classic Salad Dressings
Make the Basics: Homemade Salad Dressing

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
May 28, 2018

RECIPES

Homemade salad dressing greatly surpasses any you can buy in the store. Fresh herbs and lemons, quality oils and full-flavoured vinegars make all the difference. Here are five classics to make at home: Honey Mustard dressing, Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette, Italian dressing with fresh herbs, Ranch dressing, and Sesame Ginger dressing.

A fresh green salad with five classic salad dressings: honey mustard, balsamic vinaigrette, ranch, Italian and sesame ginger.

Five classic salad dressings you can make at home: (left to right) Honey Mustard dressing, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Ranch dressing, Italian dressing, and Sesame Ginger dressing.


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