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Posts tagged ‘provenance’

One Event’s Food Provenance Presented On A Map

Last week our team was a part of A Plan Bee, an event organized by Farm Folk City Folk & World In A Garden here in Vancouver. The event was this year’s installment of an annual film fundraiser that features a long list of local food businesses; it’s held at a local theater and guests are treated to an array of drinks, treats, and other samples before watching a thought-provoking film. This year’s film was “Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us?” which I highly recommend to anyone who’s curious about beekeeping and the (massive) role that bees play in our ecosystem.

About The Map

We often think about these gatherings in the context of provenance, so we spent a bit of time last week reaching out to the food businesses who’d be involved looking for some insight into where their ingredients were from.

Nearly all of the parties involved sent us information on their ingredients, with almost all of them sharing specific origin locations for most of the ingredients. A few of the food offerings included ingredients that were only traceable to a particular region of the world, which we also included on the map (listed ingredients enclosed by brackets).

You can see the functional map here.

The results were interesting, when you consider that visualization with the following in mind:

  • This event was a small, intimate affair; it represents about twenty-five vendors serving light snacks to about 150 people.
  • The night is a celebration of local food communities and sustainability, and yet the inevitably global nature of the food in the room is obvious.

Food Provenance Maps – What They Tell Us

Throughout the evening this visualization ignited some really interesting conversations, but the most compelling was around the importance of “local“. In an admittedly biased crowd, it became obvious to most that “local” wasn’t the only important element of thinking about food. It was obvious that “100% local” was very difficult.

Many of the listed ingredients simply can’t be produced in our region, which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re “bad”.

What the map offered the conversation was a chance to know more. It is a simple collection of insights into the food we were all eating that night, but what is the story behind these various ingredient-makers? Who were they and how did they produce food?

Wasn’t their story just as important to us as their address?

What We Know vs. What We Don’t Know

The map ignited a conversation about what people care about, and various people throughout the night held different convictions as to the food they choose to eat and buy. The map was just the beginning…many attendees could point at a particular node on the map and tell us something about the farm or food producer. Many wanted to know more about the cantaloupe from Florida.

What was obvious was that looking at the “what we do know” made “what we don’t know” rather obvious, and in this the most thought-provoking conversations were grounded.

We’d love your thoughts.

What does the map show you?

Foodtrees from last night’s FRESH Event

Thank you everyone who came out last night to the Ridge Theater in Vancouver for the screening of FRESH. The food, wine, and conversation was wonderful and we had a great time meeting everyone. We hope you enjoyed the movie!


As Anthony said before the film, we’ve put together some ‘foodtrees’, as we call them, related to the food producers who participated last night. Foodtrees are like family trees…they represent the path our food has taken on its way to our plate, and the link together food sources that are related to one another.

The main link can be found at the link mentioned last night: That takes you to our Treehouse Community Profile…a place we put together special events foodtrees.

NOTE: Our platform is community driven…if you know where you can find some of these foods you are welcome to contribute by signing in and adding food sources!

Check out each vendor’s foodtree:

Tower Foods


J-B’s Candy Shoppe

Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company


Terra Breads

Edible BC

Farmstead Wines

Crannog Ales

Dao Tea

Ethical Bean

If you know of other places to find these foods, we’d encourage you to sign in and contribute!







Skipper Otto- Gone Fishing

My family and I were at the dock for the send off party for Skipper Otto. We’re members of his community supported fishery with our friend Grace. It is an awesome way to get great fish (which means delicious, good fishing practices, known provenance, etc). Otto’s daughter-in-law, Sonia, helps run the business and is generally amazing. Otto recently had hip surgery and stubbornly managed to get out on the boat at the start of the season even though he was on crutches. It’s really the kind of dedication you only see (and required) in fishermen and farmers.

Understanding Provenance- What should I eat?

This may be one of the missing food rules: Only eat food from places you would want to visit.

5 Reasons Why Provenance Matters

Seared Tenderloin with braised spinach, tomato confit, tomato powder and peanut veloute. This lovely looking dish is actually death on a plate. In the past year there have been massive recalls of spinach, tomatoes, beef (all for ecoli) and peanut butter (salmonella). Understanding the who, what, why, where and how of our food is more important than ever.

We live in a world filled with opportunity, but also with great challenges. At times, it feels impossible for any individual to make the world a better place. But each and every day, you really can make a difference. The struggles we face as individuals and a society are complex and interconnected issues. Food is no exception, but this is also its strength. The food we eat has direct and clear implications for everything from clean water and fossil fuel use to hunger and obesity, the power to change the world is right in front of you- on your plate.

Here’s why provenance, from provenir (Fr.) “the origin or source of something,” matters to you, your family and the planet.

1. Health. Not only are whole foods superior nutritionally, many are even better when grown in healthy soil. Beyond that, the impact of poor diets on our health is immense. Obesity is not only the leading risk factor for type2 diabetes, the direct medical costs are $93 billion dollars each year.

2. Food Safety. As you can see from the photo above a beautiful looking plate can still make you sick. This is despite a massive number of government regulations intended to make food safe. Just last week, a blogger broke the story of a massive meat recall before the USDA.

3. Environment. Sustainability does not mean a particular product is fair trade or organic, etc. An individual product cannot, by definition, be sustainable. Sustainability is a system-wide condition, not a product level benefit. We need to understand the underlying process and the implications for a larger system- relying on a reductionist label is insufficient.

4. Farmers matter. The best farmers have an amazingly wide array of skills- biology, horticulture, business, accounting, mechanics…Farmers connection to and understanding of the planet’s natural systems are one of our most important links to the Earth. Farmers can teach us how to live and work in harmony with nature. One of the great farmers of all time, Masanobu Fukuoka, explains, “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

5. Food is not a commodity. Although agriculture has inspired many of our current economic systems, food should not be a commodity, It is a biological necessity, and, as such, should be regarded as distinct from copper, iron ore and light sweet crude.


Cooking is important. As Harvard Professor of
Biological Anthropology, Richard Wrangham explains, “It’s the development that underpins many other changes that have made humans so distinct from other species.”

Eating Provenance- Social Connection and Happiness

Eating Provenance- Social connection and happiness from foodtree on Vimeo.

Coffee: transparency, trust and origins

With the rise of fair trade and now direct trade coffees, I’m surprised that the farm-to-table crowd isn’t talking about coffee much. Why is that?