New Book, Flat Out Delicious, a call to local food action
The time has never been better to build a thriving local food system in Saskatchewan
by Jenn Sharp
I wrote a book! And I’m beyond excited to share it with you.
In the summer and fall of 2018, photographer Richard Marjan and I travelled all over the province to meet, interview, and capture images of Saskatchewan’s food artisans; that is, our small-scale farmers and market gardeners, beekeepers and winemakers, ranchers, chefs, cheesemakers, and more.
The resulting book, Flat Out Delicious: Your Definitive Guide to Saskatchewan’s Food Artisans, shares our bountiful local food story through the eyes of over 150 food artisans. It also includes longer essays about our unique ingredients and iconic food traditions. I was surprised to discover just how much food we produce. It ignited a newfound pride in our humble prairie people.
We met farmers in their fields, ranchers in their pastures, and beekeepers tending their hives. What struck me the most, besides their interconnected stories of passion for good food and love for the land, was how much of a difference it makes to purchase even just one product from them.
While Flat Out Delicious is a travelogue, designed to help you tour the province (with maps and all) to discover new places and rediscover old favourites in your own backyard, it’s also a call to action.
Eating farm-to-table, that is either growing or raising the food yourself or knowing the people who did, wasn’t a trend for our grandparents. Unfortunately, today many of our communities are overflowing with cheap or hyper-processed food that’s destroying our health and our environment.
I find it silly that Saskatchewan has such diverse agricultural capabilities yet much of the food on the grocery store shelves is imported—or processed elsewhere from our raw ingredients, then shipped back here. This is how globalization works and for the benefits it has had for some, we’ve also witnessed the centralized food supply chain’s shortcomings in 2020.
As I researched and talked to food producers, I also realized we’re getting too caught up in what type of food is healthiest. It’s confusing. Plant-based? Keto? Who knows anymore!
The most important question we can ask is, “How?” How was the food raised or grown? How far was it shipped here and how many nutrients were lost along the way? How many ingredients are on the packaging? How were the agricultural workers treated who are growing our food in other countries?
We’re at an unprecedented moment in history, a crossroads if you will. Which road we take will determine our future. We have a glorious opportunity to create our normal for the food we feed our families. We have the power to help build a thriving local food system that will benefit our health, our economy, and our environment.
It’s already happening. From local flour mills using grains from regenerative and organic growers, to pastured meat farmgate stores, business has doubled, if not tripled, since early March. The more you spend at farmgate stores, the local farmers’ market, on a CSA subscription, on value-added locally-made food products, at grocers stocking Saskatchewan ingredients, and at independent restaurants doing their best to support Saskatchewan farmers, the more you’ll help make an immediate positive impact.
My biggest hope for Flat Out Delicious is that it will support your own journey home, to the food our ancestors were raised on. If you try a new food you like, spread the word. Share it on social media and leave reviews on the business’s page. Tell your friends. Tell the producer. Let’s make the good news about our food artisans travel fast. Godspeed to you all.
Flat Out Delicious: Your Definitive Guide to Saskatchewan’s Food Artisans is available from Chapters, Amazon, and McNally Robinson, which offer shipping throughout Canada. Follow Jenn Sharp on Twitter @JennKSharp and Instagram @flatoutfoodsk.
This article is adapted from a column that ran in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix on April 30, 2020.