Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Spreading the Pie-Love in Fort McMurray

There is nothing as comforting as pie. If you disagree with this statement you should probably quit reading now as clearly this post is all about pie, and non-pie-lovers might not be keen on the pie love. I, however, was raised on pie as the daughter of a German woman who loved to cook and made a helluva pie. Pie, when in my house, was an all day food, often becoming breakfast, and lunch, and dinner, and elevensies. I would sneak slices of pie, and on one occasion smuggled an entire apple pie out of the house to share with friends (leaving my mother very puzzled about the pie disappearance until I confessed). And for the record store bought pie just isn't the same, as the mass production of pie means it loses some of the flavour and appeal - which is why the recent arrival in Fort McMurray of Meadow Creek Farms, and all their goods - including pies made by the Athabasca Hutterite colony - was such a big deal to me.

Meadow Creek Farms is a family run operation that raises their animals in a holistic, organic way. The animals in their care are free range, and free too from the antibiotics, hormones and growth additives so frequently used in raising livestock. And while I was raised in the city my parents were farmers originally, and most of my extended family continued to farm, and so I was raised on a diet of fresh beef and pork, family raised in the traditional way.

Meadow Creek Farms comes to Fort McMurray on a regular basis, bringing a truck loaded with meats, sausage, and jerky from their own farm, as well as fresh produce from local producers around them, fresh fruit from BC - and baking from the Hutterites in their area. I am familiar too with Hutterites, as growing up in Saskatoon they often attended the Farmer's Market there, and my father, who grew up speaking German, would converse with them in their native tongue and they would give him potatoes and produce in appreciation of his respect for their culture.

Meadow Creek Farms was to set up their market stall at Heritage Park this summer, but due to the recent flooding the park of course had to close to undergo restoration, and so Meadow Creek needed a new home - which is how they ended up at MacDonald Island Park, and just steps from my office. When I first learned they were coming I requested they hold two pies for me - and what started as two pies has become a full-fledged love affair with everything they bring.

So far the Intrepid Junior Blogger and I have eaten our way through Hutterite-baked pies (apple, saskatoonberry, and strawberry-rhubarb), as well as banana bread. We have had the Meadow Creek raised ham and garlic sausage (in a word, delicious), and the day I brought home 1/4 pound of beef jerky may live in carnivorous infamy in my house as my kid, niece, myself, and the family dog snarfed down the jerky in record time and with not a scrap left (and a demand from the IJB to bring home more, and in larger quantities). The pie, however, took on a life of its own when one of the local radio hosts, Marshall from KAOS, and I got into a pie discussion on Twitter.

Ever since Marshall and I did the food hamper challenge from the Wood Buffalo Food Bank our conversations seem to centre on food. When I commented on Twitter one day that I was having pie for breakfast Marshall and I began to banter back and forth about pie, which is how two weeks ago I ended up delivering pie to the station, and setting in motion a chain of events that led me to delivering pie to every radio station yesterday. You see you can't just deliver pie to one radio station, as if you do (as I discovered) you get messages and texts asking you why you are picking pie favourites and only giving pie to some media outlets and not just handing out pies to everyone.

And my partner in delivering the pie love? The incredible Mandy from Meadow Creek Farms, who insisted on giving me the pies for free to deliver (no doubt realizing pie is like a gateway drug, leading those who eat it to want more pie, and then banana bread, and likely right into beef jerky and sausage, too). There is no denying the joy of home-made pie, and the flavour of all the produce and meats coming from family producers like Meadow Creek Farms. These items are the kinds of things I have craved, and now, thanks to entrepreneurs like Mandy (and others who are now recognizing the demand for these goods here) I can get them.

So, about that pie. It is best summarized in one word. Nom. Okay, not really a word, but the most descriptive one anyhow. So far this summer I have fed my co-workers pie, delivered pie to all the radio stations, and consumed more pie than is likely good for me, and yet you know what? I want more pie. Which is why if you want pie you may want to contact Meadow Creek Farms and place your pre-order, because I am quietly stocking my freezer for this winter, and I can't be held responsible if you are left pie-less in Fort McMurray.

My sincere thanks to
Mandy of Meadow Creek Farms
and all the other small Albertan food producers
who take food
and turn it into joy -
like having pie for breakfast! :)

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