Oil is a starting point for most dishes. Whether it is to grease a pan or to drizzle over as garnish, it is one of those things that is usually forgotten about but critical. At Canoe (the restaurant featured in the film “Before The Plate”), everything is taken to another level. There mantra is food from Canada, and they are obsessed with it. Everything from limiting the use of olive oil, to using unripened strawberries as zest to add acidity due to the fact we can’t grow limes or olives in Canada. It is a very cool challenge for anyone to take on no matter what country they are from.
How much can we utilize what we grow within our own country in order to make the best food possible? It is a great way to support local farmers and increase pride in a nation’s food supply. It also may be a good starting point for people to start connecting the dots with how their food is produced.
For Chef John Horne, sunflower oil became the obvious choice for the dish featured in “Before The Plate.” Jason Parsell is one of the many farmers Horne and Canoe work with, and his operation became a stop for us and the film crew. Parsell grows soybeans and sunflowers for oil processing, as well as Edamame beans for local markets. All of his own field crops get pressed and bottled in their own facility on farm.
Visiting Jason’s operation was one of the more interesting locations as it was easy to see the entire process in one location. We went from touring fields to watching the seeds being crushed and the oil being bottled all within a few hundred feet and just a couple of minutes. For consumers, being able to tour an operation like this is key. Does it accurately represent the size and scale of where most of our oil comes from? Not at all. But that’s hardly the point. It allows people to start wrapping their head around what is involved in getting the product to market and what is at stake for farmers.
In our view, the more knowledge people have about agriculture and its process, the more their questions can be formed from a place of reason instead of a place of fear. Everything is baby steps, and we can only hope that the desire for most consumers to do good is what will fuel their journey to ultimately realize the truths of modern agriculture and our advancements are something to be proud of and not ashamed of.
Dylan Sher is the creator of the “Before The Plate” food documentary. To connect with “Before The Plate’s” journey, follow them on Facebook and on Instagram and stay tuned to AGDAILY.com. Click here to donate to “Before the Plate.”