Five years ago today I started a blog.
At the time, it was a place for me to write about whatever was top of mind – television, fashion purchases, theatre, and, well, food. I had just started cooking, though not on a regular basis, so most of my food dollars (and attention) were allocated to restaurants. After a few years of eating my way through and documenting the Edmonton culinary scene, it became clear that my blog did indeed have a central focus, and Only Here for the Food was born.
A lot can happen in five years, something that is very true for me. I started my first job post-university, began a long-term relationship, moved out of my parents’ house, bought a condo. But I never thought the act of sharing my food experiences would have such a significant impact on me as well.
When I first started to visit farmers’ markets, I would walk past the tables overflowing with produce and overlook the proud farmers showcasing their wares for cupcakes. To me, markets were weekend festivals – bustling, colourful, and meant only for brief stopover. In 2007, a chance prize earned me the opportunity to cook alongside long-time Edmonton Journal Bistro columnist Judy Schultz and local food advocate (and Seasoned Solutions proprietor) Gail Hall. One afternoon was all it took to demystify the market; it was the first time I saw the market for what it really was – a plethora of farm fresh ingredients, and a direct link to the producers who grew or raised it.
In the years that followed, I learned more and more about the local food scene. Perhaps more importantly, I met and got to know the people that have worked hard to develop and drive their beliefs forward – farmers, chefs, advocates, eaters, all pushing to ensure Edmonton has a vibrant economy that includes independent businesses and sustainable food production. I am very fortunate that this blog, and the very small window that it is, has allowed me to be a part of that community.
This growing awareness also increased my desire to become more active in the community. It began with co-organizing Slow Food Edmonton’s Wild Boar and Beer BBQ in 2010, snowballed into helping put on Eat Alberta earlier this year, and most recently, planning two What the Truck?! events this summer. It’s a cliché, but it is true – food helps bring people together, and in the case of What the Truck?!, can be the catalyst for something even greater – small-scale revitalization.
The experiences I’ve written about – farm visits, market reports, cooking chronicles, chef’s dinners – have helped shaped my values and my lifestyle. It may have started with a few restaurant reviews here and there, but this blog has inextricably changed the way I view food, and the city as a whole.
What I also know is that your support over these past five years – through comments, e-mails and conversations – has been priceless to me. Though some bloggers may deny it, the very nature of public sharing is ego-centric, and I appreciate knowing that what I’ve written has been interesting or helpful in some way – my greatest hope is to have perhaps demystified the farmers’ market for someone, too. So in short: thank you for reading.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Mack – my editor, sous chef and partner. It is doubtful that without his constant indulgence in my penchant for food that this blog would have gone on for as long.
We’ll see what the next five years brings. But through the lens of this blog, things are looking up in Edmonton – and I am happy to be along for the ride.