Official Logo for Le Panier Bleu

Québec’s official colour is blue. From the flag to official government communications, the colour is omnipresent. It represents the identity of the citizens in the common project of a distinct, francophone culture in the heart of North America.

In the middle of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, when everyone was scrambling to purchase basic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for front-line health workers, the Premier of Québec announced that he wanted to solidify local production chains for these essential goods. Once we got over that particular challenge, the government then turned its attention to another aspect of the local…

Newer methods of measuring emissions are turning the spotlight on our entire food system. And that’s a good thing.

In the small village of Saint-Georges-de-Clarenceville, 75 kms south of Montreal on the Canada-US border, there is no municipal water system.

The Saint-Georges-de-Clarenceville Catholic Church, a 200 year-old town institution, with the Cemetery Chapel to the right.

Individual homeowners have artisanal water wells for that are supposed to provide them with clean water for their daily needs.

But the village is smack, dab in the middle of some of the most heavily exploited farmland in the Province. The residue and runoff from the farms is infiltrating the wells in the town, contaminating the majority of them with fecal coliform bacteria.

So, the homeowners are reduced to buying their drinking water in large jugs twice or three…

Long labelled as just ‘stirring and stitching’, Home-Ec could be the one thing we need to provide the necessary context about our highly industrialized food system.

I went to high school located in a small village in a rural area of British Columbia. Kids were bussed in from even more rural towns to the school. It was an eclectic mix of daughters and sons of ranchers and farmers mixed in with those of us who lived in bigger villages and towns and whose parents had jobs in services.

Enthusiasm for liberal arts courses was not very high, let alone hard sciences; in my most senior year, for example, just four of us were in Chemistry, Biology and Physics classes.

Where did everyone else go? Well, the…

Consumers need to trust what’s on the label of the food they’re buying, but our labelling schemes may be failing us.

At the beginning of March, I wrote an article that found that buying local doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting a healthier product, or a product that is less harmful to the environment or farms, contrary to the marketing claims.

I also explained how Quebec’s local products labelling scheme — a recognizable, quirky, yellow ‘Q’ with ‘Aliments du Quebec’ written around the letter — tries to help consumers quickly identify items in-store that are either produced in Quebec, or transformed in the province.

Finally, I concluded that the whole point of labelling of any kind is designed to provide valuable…

But after 135 years of agricultural innovation with Canada’s Experimental Farms, what’s next for this venerable institution?

My first foray into what I knew as ‘Eastern Canada’ was to pick up and move from my home province of British Columbia to Ottawa in the late 1980's.

With a freshly minted Bachelor’s degree and a job that was in my field, I was pretty excited to land in the nation’s Capitol. I was — and frankly still am — a news and politics junkie. So Ottawa, for me, was where it all happened.

As I was settling into a new apartment, I began to explore the city. I took in guided tours of the Parliament, the Senate and…

The food we throw out is warming the planet, but to solve the problem we need to attack the issue on multiple fronts.

I had a feeling when I pulled the chicken pieces out of the fridge for dinner.

When I checked the best before date, both packages said the 11th of May. I looked at the date on my watch: 11th of May.

But when I cut open both packages, one package had that distinct odour of beginning-to-rot meat. Even after rinsing with cold water, the odour remained, so I binned it, not wanting to take the chance with a potential case of salmonella.

Whenever this happens — and it happens rarely — it always feels like I’m throwing money into the…

But it’s only the kitchen where you’re dinner is coming from.

There’s one thing this pandemic has altered in my home and that’s the amount of take-out food coming in the front door.

I am a cook, and I love to play with food and recipes. The pandemic has provided ample opportunity for me to stretch my cooking capabilities in many different directions. No, I didn’t slave over that sourdough starter. …

One is not ‘better’ than the other. But it’s a start down the road of protein diversity that we all need to embrace.

I’ll admit it: I’m an omnivore.

I eat red meat.

But how much I eat, and where I buy it from, has changed a lot over the past decade and half.

I mix in a lot more non-animal protein into my diet. My consumption of legumes has grown, and correspondingly, my consumption of red meat has declined significantly. I’ve also mixed in a lot more ‘bird’ protein (duck, guinea hen, chicken, etc.) and fish.

In addition to a greater mix of protein, I also pay much greater attention to where my protein is coming from. Organic and grass-fed beef when…

For anyone reading what I’m writing in this space, it’s no secret that I have a passion for soil health.

I know. It sounds downright odd. Even dorky. How can a guy who lives in a major North American city be interested in soil?

It comes down to the food I eat. I started maybe 15 years ago learning how to cook different foods from different cultures. In sourcing my ingredients, I became interested in where those ingredients came from, who grew them and how they grew them. …

Recent Budget documents suggest maybe they do.

The annual Spring budget cycle in Canada is usually a good barometer to understand where the priorities will be with respect how Government wants to spend our tax dollars for the coming years.

Amongst the wall to wall coverage about what’s in these voluminous documents (the 2021 Federal budget clocks in at 725 pages in English, 865 in French while the Quebec provincial budget comes in a 508 pages in English or French), how the Government intends to support Agriculture — and what impact this spending will have on your food — tends to be overlooked. …

Leonard Eichel

Telecom professional, writer, food lover. Focussed on discovering civilized eating & sharing that with the world.

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