Annual Food Cycle Tour wants patrons to rediscover regional cooking
by Adrian MacNair
The Slow Food Cycle Tour in Agassiz on July 28 is a leisurely self-guided bicycle ride around a 25-kilometre flat route, visiting farms and meeting farmers.
The tour is a part of Slow Food Vancouver and the Slow Food International Movement, which according to its manifesto seeks to "rediscover the flavours and savours of regional cooking." The concept is that under the rise of industrial civilization, fast foods have created significant environmental and even sociocultural problems.
Agassiz has been running a similar circuit for about eight years now called the Circle Farm Tour, a year-round road map that directs drivers to a variety of specialty farm-gate vendors, open air markets, and charming eateries.
The idea originated with slow food advocate Philip Wouda seven years ago while working for the district of Kent. Wouda's parents just opened up the Tasty Chicken Farm on Ashton Road in Agassiz last year and this will be their first year on the cycle tour.
"I've been watching people go by and they always stop in front of my place," said Hoa Wouda.
Hoa is from Vietnam and said she decided to start a chicken farm because in her 33 years in Canada she'd never tasted chicken as good as the ones she'd eaten as a child.
"I came when I was 15, so I was quite used to eating fresh food. Coming to Canada was quite a culture shock," she said, adding slow food is essentially Asian cuisine.
Hoa said she learned to cook from her mother and has since learned to cook fusion style.
"I like to chew my food, I like to savour it. The chicken you buy in the store is too soft so you can't really savour it."
Robert Reyerse, executive director of Harrison Tourism, said the adoption of a second food event like the Agassiz Cycle Tour was a natural progression toward more ecological sustainability.
"They really want to combine people exploring local food with them getting out of their cars and onto their bikes," he said, adding it's a great way for local farmers to offer their produce and provide tours.
Reyerse said last year's turnout was the largest yet, with an estimated 800 riders doing the circuit. Although the event is usually in August, it's moved to the last week of July this year to ensure the Fraser Valley's notoriously unreliable weather is likely to be sunny.
This year, Touism Harrison is offering a shopping shuttle service for those who sign up with the tour. They collect riders' purchases from the farms and bring them back to the registration area to pick up.
Reyerse said that although biking is a great way to visit the farms, it's sometimes awkward to take away the cumbersome foods on a bicycle, so this gives people an option to cycle around and place orders.
Proceeds from registering with the tour goes to the Terra Madre 2012 Fund, which will help pay for local farmers to attend this four-day international organic farmers event in Turin, Italy, in October.
For more information, including full descriptions of the farms and stops of interest, visit www.slowfoodvancouver.com.
For information on the year-round circle farm tour visit www.circlefarmtour.ca.