For people who love good food — whether fresh, preserved, baked or served in a restaurant or cafe — the Gulf Islands are the place to be.
The number of food-related cottage industries seems to climb higher each year, as islanders become more conscious of how consuming local products benefits the economy, their own health and that of the planet.
Island-made cheeses, chocolates, coffee, fish products, tofu, flour, gelato, pasta, spices and seasonings, jams, gourmet condiments, teas, breads and acres of farm products can be picked up here.
All of the islands’ farmers’ markets offer a chance to buy home-grown, home-baked or prepared-on-the-spot delicacies. In the last few years, the field of artisan breads and exquisite baked treats has really blossomed.
Gulf Islands restaurateurs pride themselves on using locally grown foods whenever possible, fostering a true “farm-to-plate” culture. They will often note which local products are used in specific menu items, including the name of the farm, when applicable.
Fish and other forms of seafood are also plentiful on the islands, naturally. Visitors can stroll down to the docks or into specialty shops to see if a daily catch is available. Local restaurants also serve excellently prepared seafood.
Salt Spring mussels, grown in aquaculture operations, are seen on a number of menus throughout the region.
A number of island-based companies offer packaged seafood products available at the grocery stores, specialty shops and even the markets, in some cases.
Salt Spring lamb has long been famous and presented in fancy eateries near and far, but many other island products are now being “exported” and find themselves in high demand in off-island restaurants and stores, and through internet sales.
Local grocery stores are also supportive of island-grown-and-created products, so they’re always easy to find.
A number of food producers are Salt Spring Studio Tour participants, too. Just check the tour’s brochure or its website at www.saltspringstudiotour.com for places to pick up a delicious treat or two.
Of course, the islands’ weekly markets are another great place to find locally made food products — as well as the many festivals dedicated to food and wine that take place on the islands throughout the year.