Thursday, June 28, 2012

Not just Locavore, but Locaholic

We hear much of the local food movement; readers of this column know I’ve written on it often. There’s even a name for local food enthusiasts: locavores. Just as a carnivore eats meat and a herbivore eats plants, a locavore eats foods grown or prepared locally. Ideas like the “hundred mile diet” or “eating the seasons” are growing in popularity from humble kitchen tables to fancy restaurants.
But what about beverages? I’ve written on the folly of bottled water when we already have top-quality drinking water free* at our taps. (The other day I was shocked to see water from Icelandic glaciers on the shelves of a local dairy.)
Yet we don’t just drink water. Simcoe isn’t a juice region, but we do have some wonderful local breweries, wineries, and even distilleries for those who like a tipple.
My own philosophy, when at home or travelling, is to approach the local beers or wines just as I would the local cuisine: part of a region’s character, something to partake of when there. Living in Korea, I drank Korean beers and rice liquor, especially house vintages, rather than the expensive western imports popular among status-seekers. Visiting relatives in Vienna a decade ago, I enjoyed visiting the Heurigen which serve house white wines fresh from that year’s cask.
Bike tours of the Niagara wine region have been a frequent summer activity for my wife and I, and our last visit to BC featured a wonderful day touring the wineries of Kelowna.
Whenever I share drinks in another city, I seek out local flavours on tap. In Toronto, it’s Mill Street Organic or Steam Whistle; in Kitchener, it’s something from the Brick Brewery. (This once backfired on me; after a long day canvassing in London, I asked the bartender for a pint of something made nearby and he pulled me a Labatt Blue! Since then I’ve been more careful how I ask… )
Most of the time I’m in Barrie, but that doesn’t mean I must settle for generic national brands, or beers made from melting BC glaciers, trucked across a continent to sit in a warehouse for weeks. We are lucky to have, right downtown, our own local brews courtesy of Flying Monkeys. For variety, I’ll have something from Creemore or Muskoka.
Recently I discovered a new winery in the Holland Marsh, which I’ll write about soon. I hear there are also some now in the Collingwood area. Collingwood is also site of the distillation of several Canadian whiskies. From beer to wine to spirits, one can now complement a “locavore” diet with “locaholic” drinks!
In future Locaholic columns, I’ll look at each of these regional beverages in more detail.
Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner under the title "Locavores, localholics getting more popular"
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of the Ontario School of Economic Science and Earthsharing Canada.

Although your tap water is metered, the amount you use for drinking is so miniscule (compared to what is used for toilets, showers, cooking, dishes, laundry, washing, lawns, pools, etc.) that it barely registers on your bill. For the average person it amounts to less than one fifth of one cent per day, or under a dollar per year. 


  1. Flying Monkeys is making some of the best beer in Ontario. I travelled through downtown Barrie on a Sunday night back in mid-May and I couldn't believe how many people were out on the streets, walking around, eating at downtown restaurants and drinking at downtown bars. You've got a success story to share with other communities regarding downtown revitalization, and I think that local breweries and wineries are a part of the story.

    If you haven't already tried it (and Erich, you probably have), the Lake of Bays Brewery in Baysville (Muskoka) is making some really interesting beer. Their Pale Ale is, without a doubt, one of the finest pale ales brewed in Ontario.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation. I just bought a Muskoka variety pack, but when that's done I'll see if they have Lake of Bays in stock. I'll admit I haven't tried it, I don't actually drink that much beer. (We have a large wine rack, though, holds hundreds).

    What pleases me is that a lot of our local pubs have Flying Monkeys on tap. This is how it was in the days of old - anything on tap was almost by definition local. Beer didn't keep too long or ship too well, compared to wine or spirits.