Back to Basics: A Calgary Farmer’s Market Food Tour

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”

-Julia Child-

If you ask me to list my favorite things in life, food ranks somewhere between my family, travel and a decently priced bottle of Moscato.  For me, food is so much more than the smell of fresh basil, the taste of a rich rose sauce or the appeal of a beautifully presented main course.  It’s the conversations and laughter, the energy and connections that take place over a plate.  It’s the memories that linger from a wine night in an ancient cellar in Tuscany, the men of our family visiting around the bbq in Hawaii, the sea views over freshly baked pastries in Positano and even the nachos that signal it’s time for kickoff. This tour is one of those kinds of moments. I’ve previously mentioned Calgary Food Tours as part of our incredible Weekend in Calgary.  Share in our experience and allow yourself to be inspired, and see how a food tour can be about so much more than a plate.

INTRODUCING: CALGARY FOOD TOURS

“We are here to provide first class hospitality and tender loving care of our guests while sharing our passion for the world’s best food producers, markets, artisans, chefs and restaurants”

-Calgary Food Tours-

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This is a company based on passion, knowledge and experience.  In the first moments of meeting Karen, the genius behind this delicious venture, we quickly understood that this is a group deeply rooted in a purpose that envelopes fun, learning, adventure and expertise.  Calgary Food Tours is dedicated to food education and community support, are proud supporters of local foundations, programs and charities, and keen on providing guests with “aha food epiphanies”.  And the best part?  They also offer other culinary adventures thru this site, as well as Alberta Food Tours of which we cannot wait to embark upon here in Edmonton!  When we learn to embrace the opportunities in our own backyard, we open ourselves up to some amazing possibilities.

THE CALGARY FARMERS MARKET FOOD TOUR:

The tour experience kicks off behind the bright red exterior of J Webb, a wine merchant like no other.  Having been in business for over 30 years has allowed them to develop unique bonds with suppliers, and develop a philosophy that embodies support and embraces old fashioned traditions.

“From the beginning, our philosophy has set us apart as we hand-select our wines and offer bottles found nowhere else in Canada: our shelves are full of unique, quality, hand-selected wines in every price range.”   -J Webb-

Over a gourmet brunch prepared fresh by the vendors of the Farmer’s Market, steaming cups from Fratello Coffee, fresh fruit and glasses of several hand picked wine selections, we were treated to group introductions and the history of J Webb.

 A FARMERS MARKET EDUCATION:

The tour then moves next door to the Calgary Farmer’s Market, home to more than 80 local vendors offering wares including fresh, local produce and meats, many organic options, international fare, art and more.  The large aisles make it easily accessible for all and options such as stroller parking and a child’s play area make it a fantastic outing for families. The market sees 20,000 faces every week, and offers the bonus of free parking!

THE FAMILIES and FACES BEHIND THE FOOD:  

Perhaps the greatest part of this tour is just how they connect to the people behind the counter.  The vendors we had the privilege of meeting are ranchers and farmers from southern BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.  They are families, they each have such a unique history and every one of them are passionate about the products they provide, and just how the go about creating them.  In learning the story behind the names, you better understand that they are real people who are committed to a way of life, something much bigger than the food on display.

A LESSON in SUSTAINABILITY:

As consumers, we tend to overlook the idea of sustainability.  This tour sheds light on this as an extremely important aspect of food in Alberta.  So what is a sustainable food system?    It is a system that embodies ideas such as working towards organic farming, balancing food imports with local capacities, is healthy and safe, is an economic generator for farmers and communities, is energy efficient, is secure and reliable in the face of changes on the planet, and is accessible and affordable to all.  It’s a life that is embraced by the growers and farmers we had the privilege of meeting, working hard to create a future of sustainability for our communities and residents.

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Innisfail Growers, Calgary Farmer’s Market

A LESSON in MAKING HEALTHIER CHOICES:

We live in a society where the terms ‘organic’ and ‘humane’ tend to float fairly freely, but do we truly understand it beyond the word?  The tour introduces us to vendors who are as passionate about the quality of their foods and how they are produced, as they are about service.  While I don’t want to give away the entire agenda, I’d like to introduce you to some of the growers and their philosophies:

  • Silver Sage Beef:  “Our cattle are raised naturally on wholesome prairie grass, we do not use artificial hormones or antibiotics and we dry age for flavor and tenderness.'”
  • Blush Lane Organic: “Passion for quality, care for how we make our living, and connection to our Earth translates into the way we conduct our business. When we act with love everything else falls into place.”
  • Innisfail Growers“As farmers, we take our job of producing high quality safe food seriously. We continue to educate ourselves on the cutting edge technologies so we can use the best techniques available to us for our diverse fruits and vegetables.”
  • Field Stone Fruit Wines“All of our wines are 100% produced from Alberta-grown crops of raspberries, strawberries, wild black cherries, black currants and saskatoon berries, with at least 75% of the fruit being picked and supplied from our own farm.”

AND OF COURSE…….THE FOOD and WINE!

While we were inspired by vision statements, stories and given an education in the vast food and vendor options in Alberta, we cannot go further without mentioning the incredible items we tasted along the way!  The girls still talk about the popsicles from The Cherry Pit, Miss Teenage B became hooked on kohlrabi (who knew!) and Mr B may or may not have eaten 17 lbs of treats from Bauer Meats.  I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mention my love for the tasting at Field Stone Wines and the stop to try the Grand Prix Gouda of Sylvan Star Cheese.

Another delicious perk of the tour?  With a re-suable bag and shopping list in hand, guests not only move from spot to spot, but have the ability to purchase ingredients along the way to help prepare a fresh and healthy meal at home!

FUN FACT:

Did you know Alberta is the proud supplier of ‘7 Signature Foods’?

  • Honey:  We are the 5th largest producer on the planet!
  • Bison
  • Beef
  • Canola
  • Saskatoon Berries
  • Red Fife Wheat
  • Root Vegetables

I wish to express my sincerest gratitude to the folks at Tourism Calgary for such a spectacular weekend that introduced us to this tour.  While this experience is thanks to so many generous people, all opinions are my own, and I whole-heartedly encourage you to think about booking.  It is so unique, inspiring, eye opening…..and delicious.

Oh, and Karen, as Little B solemnly promised you, we no longer place our tomatoes in the fridge 🙂

Cheers to new adventures,

Amy

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18 thoughts on “Back to Basics: A Calgary Farmer’s Market Food Tour

  1. Love everything about this. Love food tours, but especially love the stories, the history and the life that sits behind it all. This mirrors the whole farm to table philosophy too by the looks of it. Definitely would be something I would want to do.

  2. Sounds great; I’d definitely want to take my kids on a food tour. It’s so important to learn about sustainable food and its sources. And with a bit of effort in sourcing and preparation food can taste so much better than what we buy in supermarkets.

  3. I am not fan of food (wine is different . . ) but one year ago I took a kind of food tour and I saw that you can learn many things about a place and its people through their food. If Alberta is the bigger honey producer in this planet that also means there is the highest bees concentration in this planet? Not sure I like this, ha haa

  4. The food culture and philosophy in the Pacific Northwest is very much in line with Calgary. I love seeing the food revolution taking hold. Now, if only it could break the barriers between aware citizens and unconcerned consumers…

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