Russell Wangersky: A Conservative wolf in sealskin clothes
In St. John’s on Thursday morning, Tory leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary slipped into an apparently borrowed sealskin coat to make one more connection when speaking with the locals.
Do-it-yourself projects create a lot of satisfaction and, particularly when they involve something as essential as food, they can offer plenty of benefits on the side.
Take for example a budding interest in maple sugar products. Ordinarily when we see references to maple, the word ‘industry’ is included. But producing syrup is another of those crafts that can be done on a small household scale – as a Pictou County couple described this week to The News.
Corey Ceccolini and Justin Smith of Lansdowne are in the midst of sugar season, tapping maples near their home and transforming the sap into syrup using a homemade evaporator. In addition to the joy of stocking up a fine product as the result of one’s labours, they tout the health benefits of a natural product like maple syrup.
They’ve also managed to connect with others interested in keeping alive what otherwise might be a dying art in a still largely a rural area.
But keeping in tune with nature can provide a lot of benefits – along with an appreciation and continual self-education that can foster nature, and help keep her intact.
No doubt there are many families across Pictou County with similar projects, tapping into the rich resource of sugar maples and making enough product to supply their needs for a year. And really, you have to think just how lucky we are – this is a natural resource that’s abundant and self-generating in a limited part of the world, that we just happen to inhabit.
There are all sorts of other possibilities available for anyone interested in being even a bit more self-sufficient. Coming in just a couple of months will be fiddleheads, those tender, tasty young shoots of the ostrich fern. Again, finding them and harvesting a few might be another ‘dying art.’ While our ancestors counted on them – a source of nutrient-dense greens after the dwindling of vegetable stock during winter – many modern Maritimers probably aren’t quite as aware of the possibilities of this traditional down-east dish.
But things are changing for the better in our outlook on what we eat. Fortunately a growing number are regaining an interest in gardening at home – whatever size plot they can manage. There’s far greater aim to buy products grown locally than there was a decade or two ago – the number of farmers markets here and in other communities attest to that.
We’re seeing community gardens for those in an urban setting who want to try growing their own; also, farm garden entrepreneurs who take orders from folks who want regular deliveries of fresh produce.
It’s a welcome, healthy trend, people being more aware and concerned about where their food originates. The more awareness, and the more encouragement to participate in that process, the more secure our food sources remain.