Now, you may be a little confused here, what with lentils and PEI being mentioned in the same sentence, but please bear with me dear readers, I’ll get around to explaining all of that in just a moment.
Food Day Canada began way back in 2003 as a way to show support for the agricultural community who were suffering terrible financial hardships due to the recently imposed US sanctions upon Canadian beef during the BSE crisis. From Anita Stewart’s original conception, The World’s Longest Barbecue, grew what is now known as Food Day Canada, an annual mid-summer coast-to-coast celebration of Canada’s rich culinary heritage and the farmers, fishers, researchers, chefs, cooks, and servers who work each and every day to bring us food from the best managed food system in the world.
Now, about those lentils…
Unbeknownst to me until about three weeks ago, Canada produces around 70% of the world’s supply of lentils, making us the world’s leading exporter of the pulse, with 95% of that production coming from Saskatchewan. Lentils are a relatively new crop to Canada, with the first commercial plantings happening in 1970. In 2011 the lentil export business was doing pretty damn well, with over $872,956,572 in exports, most of that going to India. That’s a lot of money… and one hell of a lot of lentils when one considers how inexpensive they are!
Chef Michael Smith has been working with Canadian Lentils since March of 2012 to help promote lentils as an affordable, nutritious, and versatile Canadian food. Through the Canadian Lentils’ website Chef Smith has presented a series of 12 webisodes that are stacked with cooking tips, and simple recipes that highlight the simplicity and versatility of Canadian lentils.
Sharing this marvellous Food Day Canada experience with me were the two joint winners of Canadian Lentils’ Love Your Lentils competition as well as two members of the public who were picked from the competition voters. 25 Chefs participated in the contest, each submitting a signature lentil dish with their recipes being posted online. Canadians were invited to vote for their favourite and at the close of the competition a tie was declared between Chef Charles Part (Les Fougères, Chelsea, Quebec) and Chef Norman Aitken (Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar, Ottawa) and the recipes for their winning dishes can still be viewed on the aforementioned website.
A video documentation of our day spent together “hunting and gathering” on Prince Edward Island is below…
If you are having trouble viewing this video please click here.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he really needs to invest in a new microphone and wind baffle.