With October brings the end of Harvest season. While many of us are tucked inside, cradling cups of hot tea, a large number of Manitobans are braving the wet and chilly weather to bring food to our tables. Currently, Manitoban farmers are hoping for dryer weather to ensure yields have the right moisture content so they can be binned for the winter. Not to mention, it’s a race against the clock to complete harvest before the ever-looming frost. This has been a particular difficult year for Canadian farmers. With the temperamental weather and political decisions affecting our ability to export our food on the global market, our farmers can use all the support they can get!
Here is how to connect with and learn from our hardworking Manitoban farmers.
Get Online and Engage: Possibly the easiest way to connect with farmers, social media is full of eager Farmers and Ag professionals sharing their personal stories and experiences out in the field. Not sure where to start? Try using the hashtags of #Harvest2019, #CanadianAg, #MBAg and #AgMoreThanEver to be connected to the top voices in Prairie Agriculture and get a behind the scenes view of what happens in the barns and fields throughout the year! Instagram is a great tool as well as Twitter for folks in agriculture. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Social media is most effective when there is a two-way conversation.
Start a Conversation: You never know who you will run-into when shopping, walking campus or even at community events. If we see or hear of someone who has a connection to agriculture, introduce yourself and take it from there. Some great conversation starters are to ask what they farm, how many generations of their family have farmed, how many heads they take care of, do they farm with conventional or organic practices and why they do what they do? These icebreakers can truly make the difference in a food producer’s day. Don’t be afraid to ask any question that comes to mind – Farmers want to you feel confident in our Canadian food supply!
Research: When I first started to get involved in Manitoba Agriculture and food writing, I was very naive to just how many science-based resources there were available to the public. Once I learned how to navigate with confidence, it was easy to connect with farming associations and commodity groups. From the importance of soil health to the role of supply management, there isn’t a shortage of topics to explore. Locally, Canola Growers Association and Manitoba Chicken Producers have great resources available online and often host community outreach events, dinners and online contests. On a national level, CropLife Canada and Canadian Food Focus have great online resources to access personal farming stories and to review the science behind modern agricultural practices.
Next time you sit down to a lovely dinner or crack open a cold, Canadian beer don’t forget to take the time to reflect on all the hard work, passion and science that went into what you are about to enjoy!
Happy Harvest, Friends!
Chicken Pancetta & Sweet Potato Soup
Recipe courtesy of Manitoba Chicken Producers
1 cup quinoa
1 Tbsp canola oil
200 g pancetta (or bacon), chopped
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sweet potato, peeled and chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 tsp dried chili flakes
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups baby spinach leaves
½ cup whipping cream (optional)
½ cup cilantro leaves
Soak quinoa in 1½ cups of warm water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add pancetta (or bacon) and cook for 4 minutes or until golden. Add chicken and stir cook until no pink is showing, about 4 minutes, add onion and garlic and cook about 4 minutes until softened.
Add sweet potato, chili flakes and broth, increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
Add quinoa and cook for 15 minutes or just until sweet potato is tender and the quinoa is cooked. Add spinach leaves and cream (if using) and stir to combine.
Serve garnished with fresh cilantro.
Amanda Bibeau is a Winnipeg-based food blogger who is passionate about affordable food for all and ‘food without judgment.’ Amanda enjoys hiking, exploring Winnipeg's craft beer scene and working her 9 to 5 as a sr. recruiter with RBC.