While I do not do restaurant reviews or “serious” essays on IslandEAT, I have been thinking about a recent fine-dining “locavore” experience at the Willows Inn, Lummi Island, Washington. It was one of New York Times’ 10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride. This is a lofty honour for a restaurant on an obscure island of 800 year-round residents off Bellingham, WA.
If you are not familiar with the term – in its most simplistic definition – “locavore” refers to a person who focuses on local, in-season foods, in large part or exclusively. The philosophy behind this “locavorean” ideal is that local foods:
- Taste better, as they have not traveled tremendous distances.
- Work better together, as they are from the same area/region.
- Feature high nutritional value: they are fresh, seasonal, and often organic.
- Benefit the environment more, due to less packaging and transportation.
- Create less waste (see #4) and are to satisfy – but not stuff.
- Support local economies, small farmers, and independent growers.
- Represent how humans – or other animals – are meant to eat.
The above definition is my explanation and understanding of what constitutes a “locavorean” approach to eating. It is one that makes sense to me as well as one I try to follow, to a large extent. For me, I cannot find – or “source” - locally produced citrus, avocados, olive oil, cocoa/chocolate, vanilla beans, coffee, and tea (black, green, or white, that is, as opposed to herbal teas or tisanes). Hence, I am not a hard-line “locavore”, as I have not stopped consuming these staples – at least staples in my kitchen.
However, I eat only blackberries I have picked, as they are free and abundant in the Gulf Islands; buy eggs – all free-range/grain-fed/organic – just a 20-minute walk up the road; and have harvested nettles for cooking. It is rare that I have any fish or shell fish from outside the seafood-rich waters of British Columbia, even some of which comes from right off this island. (Here are some of my favourite recipes for maple-ginger-soy salmon, salmon chowder, halibut with lime-ginger-cayenne, halibut cheeks, and scallops in brown butter with hazelnuts.) Last week, I had eaten lamb raised on a farm on the other side of the bay, which I can see right from our house. So that is pretty good, as far as “locavores” go. I am privileged to live in a place where all this is possible.
For the “non-review”, keep reading…