Farmers markets can be as political as they are quaint. Chat with the local beekeeper to gauge how climate change may or may not be affecting the health of his bees, and learn how his unpasteurized honey is as medicinal as it is practical for everyday use.
Meet with local growers of fruits and vegetables and be inspired by how amazing a sugar snap pea picked the day before tastes in comparison to the store bought product that travels sometimes 3,000 miles to grace our tables.
See the abundance of local produce and realize that eating local does not limit us in any way. Instead it may teach us that eating what's in season is not only important, but is actually most enjoyable and a most healthy choice for our bodies, communities and planet as a whole.
Our own Squamish farmers market has grown leaps and bounds since its conception a few years back, and now I cannot wait to visit every Saturday just to see what inspired foods will make its way into our weekly meal plan.
I have met the folks at Pure Bread who have changed the way we eat sandwiches with their hearty handcrafted artisan breads. They offer a killer jalapeño cheddar loaf that is a steal at only $5 a loaf and has caused an obsession in our household for grilled cheese sandwiches using cream cheese, aged cheddar, fresh basil and a bit of fresh garlic between thick slices of this jovial loaf.
Their cherry pecan bread made with buckwheat flour needs nothing more than a knife and a healthy appetite as it is a treat on its own.
I would also encourage a chat with Karsten Shellhas, a European trained chef with a master's degree in sausage making and a registered holistic nutritionist.
He offers bison products that knocked my meat eating husband's socks off. He has a variety of low fat, gluten and dairy free sausages that go well with any meal. My favourite would have to be his sunflax bison sausage that tastes just like salami but very healthy with tons of omega fatty acids and fibre and my kids love it.
Another growing favourite for me is the Nonna Pia's balsamic vinegars. Also produced by a certified red seal chef, this line of vinegars is a rich portrayal of Italy's fine aged balsamic vinegars.
Nonna Pia's balsamic reduction comes in three flavours: Strawberry and Fig infused, Rosemary infused, and Classic balsamic.
My favourite is the strawberry fig but could live quite easily on the classic alone. These vinegars can be used as dips for fresh bread and finishing sauces or glazes for meats and fish. Today's recipe is from Nonna Pia's.
Pine nut, portabello and prosciutto pizza with asiago and mozzarella
Your favourite pizza dough
Your favourite pizza sauce
Fresh Portobello mushrooms
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Asiago cheese grated
Mozzarella cheese grated
Nonna Pia's balsamic reduction
Use your favourite pizza dough spread your favourite pizza sauce over the dough.
Sprinkle a layer of Asiago cheese on the pizza sauce
Sprinkle pine nuts, and then cover with prosciutto and thinly sliced portabellos
Generously cover with remaining Asiago and mozzarella cheese, bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Let it cool 5-10 minutes before cutting.
Drizzle with Nonna Pia's balsamic reduction and serve.