While perseverance has defined Canada’s food community over the past couple of years, we’ve also seen a positive shift in Canadian values. We’ve become more interested in understanding how our food is produced, where it comes from and how it arrives at our local grocery stores and restaurants. At the same time, we’ve also become more inclined to choose local and sustainable products whenever we can.
When it comes to eggs, Canadian farmers have cracked the code for keeping things local and sustainable. The Canadian system of supply management ensures that egg supply meets consumer demand and that Canadian farmers receive a fair return. This system also makes it possible for our farmers to invest in sustainable farming practices, helps drive innovation across the egg industry and ensures that the eggs found on shelves or used in our favourite restaurant dishes are produced locally, with world-class quality standards.
To dive a little deeper into the great Canadian egg and how it makes its way from the farm to our kitchen and restaurant tables, we caught up with Vancouver Island-based egg farmer Cammy Lockwood and Canadian chef Josh Gale. Lockwood and her husband James take pride in operating Lockwood Farms, a sustainable egg and vegetable farm in Cobble Hill. Here, local food takes on a whole new meaning.
“Sustainability was what initially drew us to farming — we wanted to be there to produce food for our community,'' says Lockwood. “It started at university when we first discovered the hundred-mile diet and how far food travels to make it to our plates. Initially, we laughed at the idea, but since then it has grown to define our lives.” The pair have continued to invest in sustainable farming practices, pioneering a new hen feed and more recently, through their investment in solar energy.
“We make a conscious effort to do things differently,” says Lockwood. “Much of our feed is sourced locally in Canada and includes a diet of black soldier fly larvae. While unique, the feed provides a protein-rich food source that doesn’t require water or imported soy.” The Lockwoods’ bottom-up approach to egg farming, starting with the feed they give to their hens and extending to the energy sources they use to power the barn, not only supports sustainable production but also allows consumers to enjoy a high-quality product that is proudly Canadian.
Back in the kitchen, chef Gale continues to be inspired by the local flavours, rich culinary scene and community of farmers and producers the city of Vancouver has to offer. And while his interests have evolved from high-brow eats to comfort food classics, his commitment to supporting local producers persists, becoming not just a personal preference, but a way of life.
“Early in my career, working in the indie restaurant scene, I tried to ensure every product came from a local supplier — my eggs came from one farmer, my dairy and grains from another and my fruits and veggies from the local market,” says Gale. “Over the years, I’ve developed strong relationships with local farmers and more of an appreciation for the fresh food they produce.”
When asked about the importance of fresh food and how the pandemic has shaped attitudes around made-in-Canada products, Gale notes, “more and more Canadians are choosing to invest in local goods, whether it’s the groceries they’re buying at the store, like Canadian eggs, or the research they’re doing to support businesses that provide quality products. Choosing fresh, local food is becoming a conscious decision.”
The next time you crack open an egg or go out for eggs benedict at your favourite brunch spot, remember that Canadian egg farmers coast-to-coast are heeding the call for local food. They’re continuing to provide the fresh, local, high-quality eggs we want, year-round. And like the Lockwoods, they’re continuously working at making egg farming even more sustainable, helping ensure an egg-cellent future for all of us.
Discover more at @eggsoeufs or by following the #CanadianEggs hashtag.