Supporting local is something that has really taken off over the last few years, and while many people have always tried to support local producers over imported products, it has definitely become more mainstream. When it comes to buying local groceries – produce in particular, we often think about purchasing from the local farm markets and road-side food stands, and not about the product in our large grocery stores.
I know for me personally, aside from when strawberries are in season, local carrots and potatoes I have never really thought about the procure in my local grocery store as being grown locally. Of course I thought the same way about the products in the garden centre until this past spring (BTW, we have managed to keep all our plants alive all summer!), so I was happy to once again realize that I was wrong.
This past weekend, our local Atlantic Superstore in New Minas played host to Jacqueline from Melvin Farms which is located near Canning, NS who was on hand to provide samples of their cauliflower, spinach and green onions that are sold in store under the VitaBite brand.
The display was set up just as you entered the store making it impossible to miss, and shared not only where Jacqueline was from, but what local produce Melvin Farms Limited produces for the store.
Along with Molly McLaughlin the in-store Dietitian, they were offering samples of their Cauliflower Mac and Cheese & Lightened Up Spinach Artichoke Dip (recipes can be found later in this post) to customers to help them think outside of the box when it comes to using these products.
Jacqueline and Molly were also there to answer any questions customers might have about the farm, produce, and how to use them in new and exciting ways. Along with the recipes mentioned above (which they were handing out) we also talked about other unique ways to use cauliflower like cauliflower garlic fingers, cauliflower rice and cauliflower steaks.
What really stood out to me about the Cauliflower Mac & Cheese was that you really could not taste the cauliflower at all, and had I not known it was in there, I would have thought it was regular Mac and Cheese. When you have a picky eater, trying to get them to eat vegetables can be a hard sell, but with a recipe like that you can almost certainly trick them into eating their vegetables without them suspecting a thing!
But back to the produce. As a busy girl who often does all of her shopping in one shot, I rarely find myself at a farmer’s market so it’s nice to know that I can still do my shopping here at the Atlantic Superstore while supporting local farmers at the same time. While products might not be labelled as being local, looking for those labelled as grown in Canada is a good place to start.
I know for a fact I’ve bought their green onions numerous times without ever knowing they were grown right here in the valley!
And it says right on the packaging for the spinach that it is Maritime Grown!Loblaws has very strict standards for the product they bring into their stores, so while it would be great to offer all local products all of the time, that simply isn’t possible. In order to ensure we get consistently great produce, sometimes they have to import. It’s great to know though, that whenever they can they are bringing in local produce allowing us to help support the local economy while still getting the great quality we’ve come to expect from the store!
As promised, here are the recipes for the Cauliflower Mac & Cheese and Lightened Up Spinach Artichoke Dip:
- 3 cups chopped cauliflower
- 2 Tbsp PC Blue Menu Celeb Margarine
- 2 Tbsp All-purpose FLour
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups skim milk
- 1 cup PC Tre Formaggi Cheese Blend
- 2½ cups PC Blue Menu Rotini with Fibre White Pasta
- Cool cauliflower in a large pot of boiling water for 6-8 minutes or until tender; drain. Return to pot; mash well with potato masher
- Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10-11 minutes or until tender but firm.
- Meanwhile, melt margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in mustard, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring constantly, or until sauce is smooth and just bubbling. Remove from heat. Stir in cauliflower and cheese until cheese is melted.
- Stir drained pasta into cheese sauce
The only change I’d make to that recipe is swapping out the margarine for butter. I’m 100% team butter!
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups chopped white onions (in store they used the locally grown green onions)
- 1 pkg no name Frozen Chopped SPinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry in tea towel (in store they used a package of fresh spinach, chopped)
- 1 jar no name Marinated Quartered Artichoke Hearts, drained and chopped
- ½ cup shredded light Cheddar cheese
- ⅔ cup PC Blue Menu Mayonnaise Type Dressing
- ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degree. Grease a 2-cup gratin or casserole dish.
- In large non-stick frying pan, heat oil over medium heat; cook onions (if using fresh spinach you will cook it in this step with the onions) for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until softened and golden. Scrape into large bowl. Stir in spinach (if using frozen) and artichokes. Using potato masher, mash. Stir in Cheddar, mayonnaise and pepper. Scrape into prepared dish; place on baking sheet.
- Bake in centre of oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden, bubbling and heated through. Serve with toasted PC Blue Menu Naan points or multi-grain tortilla chips.
Interested in learning more about what products in your local Atlantic Superstore are #GrownNearYou? They are hosting a series of these events across the Maritimes, here are some of the dates/locations for events happening in the next few weeks:
- Bridgewater Atlantic Superstore – August 17
- Windsor Atlantic Superstore (NS) – Thursday, Aug. 24 and Saturday Aug. 26
- Fredericton – Smythe Street Market Atlantic Superstore – Saturday, Aug. 26
- Tantallon Atlantic Superstore – Fri., August 25
- Digby Atlantic Superstore – Thurs., Aug. 31
- Oromocto Atlantic Superstore – Sat., Sept. 2
- Joseph Howe Superstore (Halifax) – Thurs., Sept. 7
There will be more locations moving right into the autumn season, so keep your eyes peeled at your local store!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for the #GrownNearYou campaign for Loblaws/Atlantic Superstore. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
About Melvin Farms Ltd.:
“Food for our Neighbours.” Located in the Annapolis Valley near Canning, Melvin Farms is operated by Richard and Stephen Melvin. This fifth generation family farm consists of nearly 600 acres of prime agricultural land and employs 45 seasonal and two full time employees. The VitaBite logo is Melvin Farms’ registered Trademark.
Melvin Farms’ is an industry leader in Atlantic Canada in the ethical production and supply of wholesale cauliflower, spinach and bunched vegetables such as carrots, green onions, leeks and beets. Once the vegetables are harvested, they are quickly moved to a temperature controlled processing facility where it is inspected, washed and packaged. Generally VitaBite product is on its way to store shelves within 24 hours from the moment of harvest. For more information visit www.vitabite.com.