When we think organic, many things come to mind. We think rural backcountry, we think carefully cultivated, hand-picked, we think pesticide-free, healthy and nutritious. We may think bohemian, freethinker and free spirit, or we may conversely associate organic with prestige, affluence, exclusivity and privilege. The concept of organic food and horticulture echoes the pastoral authenticity of antiquity. It initially surfaced as The Green Revolution in the 1940s organic farming movement – a rejection of the emergence of a 20th century bourgeoisie which turned a hefty profit from the manufacturing of inexpensive synthetic fertilizers and from the quick substitution of manual labour by tractors. Present day organic culture poses as a direct response to our times. The organic way of life is quite simply a return to the proletarian, to the wholesome pre-industrial era when plastics and Styrofoam, antibiotics and growth hormones, assembly lines, complex machinery and macro and micro technologies did not overwhelm our agricultural commercial society. Organic makes sense. It’s an innate understanding – a part of our perennial philosophy.
In this day and age, everything organic appears to be a desperate plea to return to everything real. Our era marks the epoch of synthetics – a materialistic world, contingent upon the production, manufacture and distribution of the artificial. The entire cyclic process of mass consumerism and consumption has inherent discrepancies, which create problems within our food supply, food quality, food production and sustainably, in turn affecting our health and the health of our children. Essentially, global supply and demand has become the Frankenstein of modernity. Having fallen down the rabbit hole, deep enough to know its true darkness, there now appears to be a shift in the social psychology of food, consumption, distribution, sustainability, ecology, the environment and the profound impact of our human footprint. People want to climb back out and see the light. It starts with the small things – thinking locally to act globally : communities re-launching their social initiatives, growing their own vegetables, ploughing and tilling their own fields, supporting their own local products; individual city dwellers buying plots of land to grow their own gardens or transforming their own front and backyards to accommodate fresh fruits and legumes; larger multilateral and multinational corporations reshaping “greener” objectives to support more sustainable programs; the global political sphere entertaining green theory and its “far-reaching” ideas of ecocentrism and sustainable development.
While the human condition intrinsically encompasses a level of extremity, it is only natural for us to want to tip the scales back in our favour by revisiting the “eco-friendly” philosophy and the rustic appeal of a simpler organic palette. Although the trendy pop culture of everything organic has become the latest mass media phenomenon, attentively developed into the multibillion dollar industry it is today, organic doesn’t have to mean “exclusive to.” The Penticton Lakeside Resort & Casino started its own organic garden twelve years ago, with the holistic idea of producing fresh herbs and vegetables to be incorporated into the foods of our hotel restaurants. This year, we will be expanding our herb garden to Hickory Road Farm, a local smallholding, which will produce a larger amount of organic products for our hotel. This will allow us to further support general principles about organic food management, practising environmental awareness, sustainability, ecological balance, soil integrity, natural pest management, natural plant fertilization, optimize biological productivity and promote sound state of health.
An organic garden symbolizes more to us than just a means of providing food; it is a representation of what is feasible in a community, where people can collectively take the lead in producing healthy, nutritious food in harmonious support of their local economy. This year our early planting of Chef’s garden is already underway. Chef Remmington has planted an assortment of Chinese greens, from Tatsoi, a well loved Asian mustard green, with a sharp, spicy flavour that tickles the nose, Jui Choi, with its dark-green leaves supported by thick white stalks, which are mild and juicy with a hint of mustard, Mei Quing, also known as baby bok choi, Tah Tsni and Chinese Yuki to name just a few, are some of the colourful arrangements you can see and taste in our garden and foods this summer! However look out for some other favourites yet to come! Soon we’ll be planting rhubarb, sage, thyme, garlic chives, bush beans, purple carrots, three types of basil, strawberries, edible flowers, mini kiwi, rainbow Swiss chard,lemon balm, patty pan squash,bay trees and oregano.
So come on over and enjoy some fresh local ingredients at our restaurants this spring and summer, and taste the distinction organic makes not just to the flavour of our foods, but to the projected future of our fragile interconnected global ecosystem. The difference starts here.