If you follow the exploits of one Mr. Jamie Oliver, it’s likely you were aware of his recent “Food Revolution Day.”
This past weekend, cooking and food-awareness events in 500 cities—including a number across Canada—in nearly 60 countries were held to promote healthy eating.
If you’ve seen any of the chef and culinary crusader’s TV shows, you know that “healthy eating” doesn’t need extreme measures; it’s mainly a matter of making home-cooked meals using natural ingredients.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the absolute best (and healthiest) ways to add freshness and flavour to your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert—our favourite fruits, grown seasonally right here in Canada.
Obviously we have to wait until autumn for the really fresh ones, but even off-season apples can be a treat. I go for not-yet-ripe Golden Delicious, which seem best at retaining their crispness and subtle taste. The fact that there are just some many different, highly versatile varieties of the fruit means following the “apple a day” adage need never be mundane.
4. Saskatoon Berries
It’s not all wheat and barley out there on the prairies. Saskatoon berries have recently gained prominence as a viable food crop, and it’s easy to see why. Similar to blueberries in size, shape and colour, they nonetheless have a slightly “wilder” flavour (kind of like how a pheasant tastes different than a chicken), and are even healthier, with higher concentrations of protein, calcium, magnesium and other minerals. No wonder they’ve been a staple of Aboriginal diets since time immemorial.
There’s a small chance I’m misremembering, but years ago I recall seeing an episode of Jamie’s School Dinners where a kid actually spat out a strawberry. I practically fell off my chair I was so dumbfounded! Now, I suppose one can understand disliking an off-season, imported strawberry; they’re often chewy and tasteless. But in Canada we’re blessed with a few glorious weeks in June, during which we can head out to pick-your-own farms and harvest these sweet, soft and satisfying berries by the bushel. To my mind nothing—absolutely nothing—says summer in Canada like strawberry season.
Peaches are bar none the most succulent of all stone fruits. And who can resist the feel of their furry skin? Perhaps because they taste so great on their own, I think we tend to undervalue the fruit’s versatility. Like apples (and blueberries, and cherries, and more), they’re fantastic when baked in a pie or cobbler, and you really haven’t lived until you’ve had a big dollop of peach jam on toast.
For my money, blueberries are probably the tastiest little food you can grow in this country. They’re also wonderfully symbolic of Canadian summers; some of my fondest childhood memories are of foraging for wild blueberries at my aunt and uncle’s Georgian Bay cottage. Obviously they’re best when picked wild, with that little bit of tartness, but farmed blueberries—most of which come from B.C.—are still great, too, especially when added to pancakes! Another plus: they’re loaded with antioxidants and other micronutrients that may help prevent some diseases.
So what do you think? Do these homegrown fruits set you to salivating in anticipation for the harvests ahead?
I’m sure there are some cherry lovers out there who want to pelt me with pits for leaving that little wonder off the list. Or perhaps you’re one of those who touts the tomato as a top-tier fruit.
Let us know in the comments section, and check back next week when we turn our taste buds to the cream of Canada’s vegetable crop.
Craig is an editor at a Toronto-based city magazine. He also writes about all manner of cultural topics, including food culture.