Earth + City has evolved its menu to reflect the incremental ways the business has changed over the years, as well as the growing needs of the local food system at large. Some of our core food values have remained the same, some have shifted. Either way, each year we take the time to refine our Food Charter to ensure we remain committed to the principles that guide the development of our food practices and products.
Did you know we have a Food Charter? Perhaps you’re not sure what a Food Charter is? Let’s explore it in more detail shall we? Essentially, a Food Charter is a broad statement and/or set of goals that describe how members of a specific community - or in our case business - want their food systems - or in our case production - to operate. They raise awareness, offer platforms for discussion and act as inspiration or a vision for how to conduct our work.
Here we hope to begin a series of blog posts that dig deeper into our Food Charter - the values and principles that influence our work - discussing the experiential and grassroots ways we’ve demonstrated Earth + City’s commitment to its mission - to enrich the health and sustainability of the local food community and economy.
#1 on Earth + City’s Food Charter is…..
Source Local Whenever Possible!
Over eight years ago, Lisa and I launched Earth + City at a few farmers’ markets in Toronto. When we began, we had a general sense of how our food system worked, how food was grown, procured, and distributed. But it was through our continued participation in the very food system we were a part of that we developed a greater understanding of how our city’s local food system interacts with its growers, producers, and eaters. And, in turn, our business grew as a result of this deeper understanding.
Above: a spring smoothie made with locally grown and stored staples (beets and apples) as well as seasonally available strawberries.
By engaging with urban and regional farmers, sourcing small quantities of locally grown vegetables and fruits, attending food lab workshops and educational events, we quickly learned how to integrate, and more importantly prioritise local produce into our recipes. We determined that storage crops, such as carrots and apples, should be a staple base for many of our products because of their breadth of availability throughout the entire year. In this way, we are able to procure and produce food that is locally sourced for a greater portion of the year. We learned to use seasonal produce - that which is only available for a short amount of time (often in the summer months) - in super creative ways. From this, we designed recipes that invited substitutions as new things became available. For example - utilizing rhubarb in our lemonades and stewed fruit in May and June, which could be substituted or supplemented with Strawberries in July. We learned to be adaptable and inspired by our evolving harvest. Local maple syrup runs dry by the late fall so we allowed recipes to adapt throughout the year - switching to other local sweetener such as honey or house-made apple sauce. Through these practices, our recipes quickly became innovative and creative, and our customers got excited to try the many variations of our staple products.
We ingrained these practices and many more into our production methods and products quite early on in our business. Now these methods constitute the very ethos of our company’s values. We do our best to remain unwavering in our principles and yet agile to the flux of the growing season. This has made our work challenging at times, but it is these very challenges that continue to inspire and motivate us on a daily basis.
Stay tuned for more on the Charter and hit us up with any questions on social!