Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Celeb-Spotting at the Gentle Rain

This week I joined my sister-in-food Laurie Knechtel at the Queen’s Inn, where we gave a talk to a group of retired directors of the Ontario Children’s Aid Society about the Slow Food movement and how its “good, clean, and fair” values can be applied to our food choices today. Given the lively discussion, which included one former director's heartfelt lament for the lost frogs of Elgin county among other unlikely digressions, I think our message really hit home with this conscientious group. I have a feeling a few of them went shopping for some sustainably-cultivated local food before they left Stratford...
Luckily for them, they needed to look no further than just a couple of blocks away from the Queen’s Inn: The Gentle Rain Natural Foods, a true jewel in the Stratford food scene crown, is tucked away on the downtown side-street Rebecca Avenue. Outside of the Stratford Farmers’ Market, this is probably the best place to score local produce in this town, and the best part is it’s all organic. Definitely Slow Food approved!
We encouraged those who attended our presentation to take the “10 percent challenge” and make a conscious effort to eat local and organic at least once out of every ten meals. I felt obliged to live up to our own recommendation, so it was off to The Gentle Rain...  
Where I was delighted to find that fresh, local asparagus is in season!
After grabbing a bundle of the tender green spears I continued with the local/sustainable theme and got myself a paper-bagful of organic shiitake mushrooms from Weth Mushroom Farm near Goderich. A dozen free-range eggs from Gold Hen Acres and I had myself the fixings for a 100% local and sustainable omelette!
As I was talking with Michelle, the manager of the Gentle Rain, about the exceptional nutritional qualities of their asparagus (which I’m told has to do with the unique soil in which it’s grown), I observed a familiar face in the produce section: star of stage and screen, Colm Feore! I’d heard a rumour that he was a fellow fan of the Stratford food scene, so I approached him and asked him what it was about shopping at The Gentle Rain that appealed to him. He told me he liked being able to come to one, central location to get “all kinds of good, organic food”. But he also mentioned that he wasn’t a one-store man, “I’m a promiscuous shopper in Stratford”.
Ever considered joining Slow Food Perth County, Mr. Feore?  

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