We have always been a family that struggles to fulfill our daily veggie intake.
There. I said it.
So it is not surprising that the tiniest being among our family of three, is pretty much relentless when it comes to rejecting any (or all) of her veggies. It has been my life’s mission to figure out the best way to get vegetables on her plate, into her tummy, and off her face. (Okay – this was actually the artistry of a local vendor at the street market – and it represented the vibrant colors of the veggie rainbow – but still… I would much rather a rainbow of veggies go in her mouth and not decorating her face).
Not being a native to British Columbia we were especially fascinated with the idea of BC Veggie Day (something we have never heard of, but wish we had), which was just this past weekend on May 23rd, 2015. Several BC Greenhouse Growers open houses were set up at select Real Canadian Superstores in and around British Columbia. My first instinct was to jump into my car, and make a day trip out of it. So I packed up the family and we made our way up to Duncan, BC to find out a little more about BC Greenhouse Growers and more importantly, how I can finally get my picky-eater four year old to eat and love her vegetables. It was all about starting with our own backyard.
When we arrived at the Real Canadian Superstore in Duncan, we were greeted by the lovely Darcy Zerky – the “Vegetable Vixen” of Vancouver Island Farm Products.
Their company represents the Growers on Vancouver Island, four of which are BC Greenhouse Growers. Little Mama, donned in her best ode to farm life (which turned out to be a little more Wayne Rogers, and a little less Farmer Joe), eagerly stood next to me waiting to hear more about who our BC Greenhouse Growers are, and what makes them so unique.
This is what we learned:
The process of locally grown greenhouse vegetables prior to being sold at the Market
All Greenhouses are conventional, they are not certified organic. However, they do use biological pest control by introducing predatory insects to the greenhouses. Their reliance on biological controls allows them to use little to no pesticides and therefore, sprays are only used when the the biological pest control gets behind.
What makes B.C. Greenhouse Veggies such great quality to the local consumer? What are the advantages of purchasing from local farmers?
The process and turnaround time from pick-up to delivery to the store is unparalleled. The Growers contact the stores, receive their orders, vegetables are picked from the farm, packed and shipped. The result? Quick, fresh product.
More specifically, the smaller scale farms on Vancouver Island give that extra personal care for their customers.
What is the Total amount of B.C.’s farmland being used?
0.01% of BC’s farmland, yet generating 21% of the province’s total agriculture production value.
The Difference between B.C. vs. other provinces (what are we known for)?
B.C. is known for their delicious strawberries yes, but what make B.C. farming exceptional, is with the actual Greenhouses themselves. Notably, in the lower mainland – there are acres upon acres of greenhouse peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, as well as field crops (lettuce). This is especially important as we see California suffering from drought problems. We can’t rely on California anymore. Locally grown vegetables is the best option.
How is the economy affected with locally grown product?
Employment opportunities for those that work on the farm and those who handle the local transportation. Consumers are becoming so much more aware of where their food is coming from, and are more proud and supportive of local food while giving their money back to their own community.
Are locally grown vegetables more unique in taste?
Yes. B.C. Greenhouse locally grown vegetables are especially sweet and tasty, as they are allowed to ripen fully on the vine before they are picked.
What would be the best recommendation to encourage children (i.e.: picky eaters) to increase their daily veggie intake?
Smaller sizes – Baby carrots, mini cucumbers, cherry and grape tomatoes, mini peppers. Little kids love food that fit in their little hands. (brilliant!)
Little mama was especially thrilled to receive her own bag of mini cucumbers in celebration of BC Veggie Day. Yum!
Some fun Facts & Tips about BC Greenhouse Veggies:
- Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are also fruit.
Growers have 8 – 10 lettuce crops vs the 1 tomato/pepper crop per season
When you cut lettuce, it’s better to tear it by hand as a knife will turn the edges brown (otherwise, opt for a stainless steel knife)
Cucumbers are seedless because they are not pollinated
Tips when choosing your Greenhouse Vegetables:
- When choosing tomatoes: Go for red, plump, firm, and bruise-free
When choosing peppers: Go for smooth, firm,and plump, with thick shiny skins
When choosing cucumbers: Look for the dark vivid green cucumbers that are firm and spot-free
And we scored a RECIPE! I am thrilled to share this with you, as I know this will end up being a staple in our home.
SPINACH AND CHEESE STUFFED MINI SWEET PEPPERS
Serves: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 Minutes (Bonus!!)
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
8 mini sweet peppers, multicolored
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, etc.)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Add salt and pepper, or herbs like rosemary to taste.
- Cut off stem ends of peppers, cut in half length-wise and de-seed
Mix together cheeses, spinach, and salt/pepper
Spoon the cheese mixture evenly into the pepper halves. Bake in 375 F oven for about 20 minutes until bubbly.
Be sure to Visit bcveggieday.com for more veggielicious recipes!
And if you are wondering if my little anti-veggie girl has been convinced to eat her vegetables? Why don’t you see for yourself?
She was so inspired by everything we learned at our fun trip at the Open House in The Real Canadian Superstore, she decided to take this show on the road and stroll down the local street market, where we bumped into a few more B.C. Greenhouse Growers and their yummy vegetables!
Looks like we got ourselves a happy customer! Farmer LD says… “Yay for Veggies!”
Well…not quite. It’s still a work in progress, but knowledge is definitely a good start!
Get your veggie on!
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