Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Cariboo Potato - The Libertarian's Potato

The Tyee has an interesting article about the Cariboo Potato. The Cariboo is a potato native to the area it is named for and has worked well there for generations as a small scale potato. It is not a great potato for mechanized harvesting and therefore the Canadian government banned it. Yes, the government decided what could be grown and what could not.

There is a sub-text in the article that this old variety of potato is a slap in the face of capitalism, but really it is a slap in the face for top down government interference. In a free enterprise system no one would be stopping anyone from growing something.

Starting in the 1920s and escaltign wildly during World War 2 and then going on for decades the governments in Canada intervened in a huge number of aspects of of our day to day lives. We had prohibition of alcohol, which was lifted, and of marijuana. What you grew had to sold through marketing boards, many of which still survive today. Transportation of fruits and vegetables around the province was restricted. In general the government was looking for more and more places to regulate our lives.

This interference was first attacked by the hippies in the late 1960s and then by the free market libertarians in the 1980s, but we still have vestiges of the insanity around us in our food system.

Many organic growers can not sell what they want to produce because they can not afford to buy the 'right' to produce the product regulated by a marketing board - eggs, cheese and milk fall under this.

Growing interesting high quality niche varieties is not possible on the praries because everything has to be sold through the Canada Wheat Board. If you go to Alberta and buy a bushel of wheat from a grower, you are breaking the law.

There are more examples out there I could name, but suffice it to say that I am glad to see the Cariboo Potato is alive and well and fighting the oppressive government system.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CR-FAIR October 15 food security roundtable at Community Council
The next CR-FAIR, the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable, will be held at the Community Council office on October 15th from 11am to 1pm.

Meeting details:

When: Thursday 15 October, 11:00am to 1:00pm
Where: Community Council, 3948 Quadra Street - Map

Community Council office: 2-3948 Quadra Street (Located across from Lumberworld. If driving, please enter driveway at the foot of Reynolds Street and park in front of the brown building. Our office is in the white building at the end of the parking lot. Please enter the door at the front of the white building, not the beige side door. For accessible entrance, please go to the beige side door and ring the doorbell. Someone will come to let you in.)

Please RSVP to

Food security roundtable meetings are an informal forum for networking and exchange of information on issues and projects related to food security and sustainable food systems, and usually last 1 to 1.5 hours.
We look forward to seeing you on the 15th. Check out this and other food-related events on the new CR-FAIR regional food events calendar:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Sheila was very nice to me for my birthday, she took me to Camille's for dinner.

I have been interested and intrigued about Camille's for some years now, I had an office above them back in 2004. The restaurant is located in the basement of a Bastion Square building, it is a warren of small rooms hidden away down a discrete staircase at the southeast corner of the square. Other than a small sign at the top of the stairs there is nothing to indicate that one of Victoria's best restaurants is right there.

Both Sheila and I have been wanting to go to Camille's for some time but not had the chance to do so. Finally we have been there for a meal and it is as good as we had hoped it would be.

Camille's chef David Mincey focuses on using a lot of locally sourced food on their menu. The chef seems to have a close relationship with his suppliers. What was also wonderful is that the waiter was very knowledgeable about all of the food and willing to spend time talking to us about the food. If he was not a sommelier, he certainly seemed to be have the skills to be one.

I had the pan seared scallops as a starter. I wish I could make scallops at home, but I can not hit that sweet zone of perfection, I have a nasty habit of getting something more hockey puck like than perfect.

My main course was the beef tenderloin. The beef they use is from Ranchland's Natural Beef of the Nicola Valley. This ranch is run by former BC Liberal MLA Dave Chutter. Dave is an amazingly reserved man with a vision of how a better world will work, it shows in the beef that he raises. Dave even won an award from the SPCA for how he looks after his cattle. It is nice to have this personal connection with your food. Anyway, it was amazing, it melted in my mouth.

Sheila had a five course tasting menu, she also had a wine pairing with each course. She enjoyed all of her courses, but the wines were adequate but not stunning.

I ordered a bottle of 1998 Chateau de Ferrand St Emiillon Grand Cru on the recommendation of the waiter. This was an inspired choice, it worked perfectly with my beef. It is the sort of wine that is so much better than a typical wine that makes a decent red wine feel like cooking wine. Sheila tried some of the wine and then had trouble going back to her BC red wine that came with her tasting menu.
The unfortunate truth is that BC can not make a stellar red wine.

We still had much of a bottle of wine left when the main course was done so we asked for a cheese plate, they do not have one on the menu but the waiter worked with the kitchen staff to come up with one for us. The cheese plate a nice selection of Vancouver Island and Saltspring cheeses along with some fresh berries.

All in all it was a wonderful experience and I would love to return when we can afford it.

Camille's on Urbanspoon