A rough calculation of current rates of soil degradation suggests we have about 60 years of topsoil left. Some 40% of soil used for agriculture around the world is classed as either degraded or seriously degraded â€“ the latter means that 70% of the topsoil, the layer allowing plants to grow, is gone. Because of various farming methods that strip the soil of carbon and make it less robust as well as weaker in nutrients, soil is being lost at between 10 and 40 times the rate at which it can be naturally replenished. Even the well-maintained farming land in Europe, which may look idyllic, is being lost at unsustainable rates.
The kitchen made this burger yesterday. Every once in a while they get in a food donation that is too small to do much in and needs to used right away or they bring in some stuff from home and see what they can do with it. This is what gets made. Thatâ€™s a normal size plate and that is a loaf of bread (not a bun). I had them weigh it but it was to heavy for the kitchen scale so itâ€™s weight is unknown but over two pounds.
It was offered to me but in the interest of my heart and stomach, I turned them down. Maybe for my birthday. Then again, I want to live to see 38.
On Thursday I went to an invitation only food show at Prairieland Park that was put on by one of the Centreâ€™s suppliers. The kitchen coordinator invited me along and since I was on vacation, I thought why not. He told me there would be some coffee but vastly understated the amount of food there was to eat.
Basically the show was put on by a massive food distributor who invited all of itâ€™s vendors to come and show of their best products. Everyone was there and it was amazing. Booth after booth of food that you canâ€™t buy in grocery stores, all with wonderful samples to try. We were often elbowed out of the way several times by chefs during their Iron Chef competition. They had an area where you could chill (and digest) and watch chefs compete. It was a fun diversion throughout the day.
Of course it wasnâ€™t all perfect. I now know how much food costs restaurants (yes I know overhead and wages are huge). I tried one product (and brought Wendy home a sample) of food that had been passed off as a family recipe by one restaurant we go to. It isnâ€™t. It is a off the shelf product that isnâ€™t available via retail channels. I also saw many, many mass produced products designed with a â€œrandomâ€ from the oven look.
The other bad part was that I made a rookie mistake. I didnâ€™t pace myself well and I didnâ€™t block my tiny plate well enough. I may be big but I am only mortal and I only made it 3/4 around the trade show before I was feeling full and we had two more times to go around (first found was talking and tasting, second round was negotiating, third round was dessert). It was a pretty good experience. My office is right next to the food services coordinators so when salespeople bring by good food, I often get a nibble and a chance to meet some of the people so they knew me. I was also introduced as the kitchenâ€™s greatest critic but I think that was just because I keep requesting we serve Kraft Dinner sandwiches.
Here is what I learned while I was there.
None of the boothâ€™s were that extravagant. Just a lot of samples, information sheets, and sales people. However a couple of booths had dried out samples, no sales people or even worse, uninterested sales people. The problem was that there wasnâ€™t a company there that didnâ€™t have a competitor and if you competitor is â€œwowâ€ing people, I think that is a bad thing for you.
I also learned that the food industry is a tough one to be in. A lot of bad mouthing of competitors was going on there. They have a lot of people to impress. The distributor, the wholesaler, and the restaurants while the whole time another company with a very similar product is telling everyone how inferior your product is.
I learned there is such a thing as â€œliquid coffeeâ€. Coffee from concentrate. I think that should be against the law. One salesperson said it tasted as good as Starbucks while another salesperson said â€œMaybe coffee that Starbucks rejects as flawed.â€
I also learned that one brand of fish is caught on the east coast of Canada, frozen and sent to China to be processed, frozen again and shipped back to Canada. I wonder how many Newfoundlander’s lost their job over that change.
I was smart enough to bring Wendy home some samples and recipes and she forgave me for attending and not faking an injury and sending her instead.