Surviving the Mountains on High-Quality, Locally-Grown Food
By Ken Wetherell
Illustrations by Lyuba Kirkova
You are strolling down scenic Banff Avenue; rugged, snow-capped mountain peaks ascend on all sides and you are taking your first breaths of fresh, crisp mountain air. You have arrived. But suddenly you are hungry — the fresh air of the Rockies has given you a voracious appetite for some locallly-grown food. Luckily, the prairies of Alberta, just east of the mountains, and the lush mountain valleys and river deltas of British Columbia are local farm havens. For example:
Beef and Pork
Benchmark Angus is a family-run ranch where premium, hormone-free Angus cattle graze the wide-open prairies.
Blue Ridge Farms produces grass-fed Angus beef, pasture raised poultry and purebred pastured pork.
At Broek Pork Acres, free-range Berkshire hogs, known for outstanding quality, texture and flavour, are raised on natural hay and grains without antibiotics, growth stimulants or animal by-products.
Redtail Farms is a third generation family farm that produces grass fed and finished beef, pastured pork, and natural honey. Their Scottish Luing cattle and Berkshire pigs are hormone- and antibiotic-free.
Carmen Creek raises bison that are free of additives, antibiotics, hormones and stimulants. The bison are raised on three local ranches.
Chicken, Turkey and Eggs
Mans Eggs produces organic and free-range eggs from small hen flocks on sixteen local farms.
Maple Hill Farms produces specialty chicken that is grain-fed (no animal by-products), antibiotic-free and humanely raised. They also produce free-range and certified organic eggs.
Ridge Valley Farm raises free-range chickens and turkeys in a humane environment using natural, locally-grown feed containing no artificial hormones or antibiotic growth promoters.
Stonepost Farms produces free-range eggs, chickens and turkeys, naturally grown produce, unpasteurized honey, and humanely raised grass-fed beef and pork.
Greidanus Honey Farms produces unprocessed honey, without blending or pasteurizing, collected from hives located in clover-rich fields.
Milk and Cheese
Fairwinds Farm produces organic milk, yogurt and cheese from goats that are fed an organic whole grain treat when they are being milked, and spend the rest of their summer days roaming the fields and eating fresh grass, which is converted to organic hay for their winter dining pleasure.
Sylvan Star Cheese produces lactose-free Gouda, Swiss and Edam cheeses from heat- treated milk containing no additives or antibiotics.
Broxburn Farm grows organic greenhouse peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as outdoor berries, vegetables and herbs.
Mans Organics grows certified organic onions, shallots and garlic outdoors, and tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in a half-acre greenhouse.
Poplar Bluff Organics grows speciality organic potatoes, beets, carrots and parsnips.
Now that you’ve got the low-down on locally farmed food, how can you sink your pearly whites into some of it? Here are some of the ways:
In Banff, The Bison Restaurant and Terrace’s menu features a map indicating where ingredients are regionally and provincially sourced. For example, you can enjoy a roasted Broxburn cauliflower salad with your Benchmark beef.
At the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, you can reserve a table at Eden and enjoy fresh organic Alberta vegetables, caviar from Northern British Columbia and aged Gouda cheese from Sylvan Star. Or try the Maple Hill chicken from the Primrose Restaurant menu.
Todd Kunst, the owner of Canmore’s Sage Bistro, notes that he and his team “source quality ingredients from local purveyors and producers of fine foods to bring the best taste to your palate.” Vegetables from Broxburn Farms, Broek pork, Sylvan Star cheese and Fairwinds goat products are all on the menu.
The Fairmont Banff Springs hotel is unrivalled in its fine dining choices. Vegetables from Poplar Bluff or Mans Organics can be found in most of the hotel’s restaurants, along with Mans eggs and Greidanas honey. As well, you can find goat milk and goat cheese from Fairwinds Farms at the hotel’s 1888 Chophouse. Down the hill at the Waldhaus, enjoy cured sausages from Valbella or Ridge Valley chicken.
At Olive Bistro in Jasper, chef and owner Darryl Huculak sources food locally because he wants his “restaurant to have a smaller ecological footprint, and because fresher food simply tastes better.” While much of his produce is from the Jasper Community Garden and his own small greenhouse, Darryl also sources poultry and pork from Blue Ridge Farms, and beef, eggs and produce from Stonepost Farms.
There is no shortage of farm-fresh foods to fuel your adventures in the Rockies. So eat well, burn o those delicious calories in one of the most popular mountain destinations in the world, and repeat.