50In every issue of COLLECTIONS, we invite achef from Greater Toronto's celebrated culinarycommunity to join us and share a little ofthemselves. This segment allows the chef toconvey a bit of their personality, while enlighteningour readers on emerging food trends. It also letsus provide our readers with a peek into thehearts and minds of the gifted people that formthis acclaimed community. Whether it's AnthonyWalsh teaching us to tap into the personal side ofcooking, Keith Froggett discussing sustainablefishing practices, or Jamie Kennedy educating usto cook with winter ingredients, it's clear there isno shortage of talent. Their scope of interest is asvaried as the number of restaurants in Toronto,so when a large group of these individuals chooseto speak out on an important matter in a unitedvoice, perhaps we should listen.By Jeremy Finkelsteinhis summer, I had the unique experience of getting apersonal tour of Michael Stadtländer's 100 acre EigensinnFarm. The chef and I hopped in his golf cart and drovearound the grounds where he showed me a variety of livestock,smoke houses, outdoor kitchens, and a number of art installationshe'd created with his team over the years. We spoke aboutfarming, big business, politics, and, most notably, quarries. Forthose of you unfamiliar with the proposed plans for MelancthonTownship, located between Shelburne and Collingwood, TheHighland Companies, backed by the Boston-based hedge fundBaupost Group, began buying up large tracts of land in the areafrom retiring farmers under the guise of becoming the region'slargest producer of potatoes. Undisclosed was an alternativeinterest in the land, with roots far deeper than the spuds for whichthe area is famed. 230 feet deeper to be exact. The limestonelying below the surface can be crushed and sold as aggregate, abuilding material most commonly used in road construction. Thevalue of the rock could be upwards of $8-billion. Certainly, that'sno small potatoes.T100 CHEFS SPEAK ASONE AT FOODSTOCKTATERS ORCRATERS?
51Accessing the limestone, however, is not a small endeavour, andwill require an open pit mine of approximately 2400 acres thatwill make it Canada's largest quarry (roughly a third of the size ofdowntown Toronto). Because its depth is well below the watertable, it will require the extraction of 600-million litres of waterper day, every day, forever, affecting the watersheds of fivesouthern Ontario river systems. It will also destroy Class 1farmland that produces about half of the potatoes sold in the GTA.Ultimately, left to proceed as planned, the quarry will devastatethe region's farmland and water system forever.Stadtländer and the Canadian Chef's Congress are leading thefight to put an end to this proposal that values constructionmaterial over food and water, but it's not a cheap proposition. TheHighland Companies is well-funded to fend off any lengthy legalbattle, so the strategy is to put the matter to the court of publicopinion, raise awareness in the streets, and pressure thepoliticians. Drawing inspiration from the Woodstock musicfestival, the Congress held Foodstock this past October 16. It wasa day to remember, with 100 chefs from across Canada travellingto the region to cook with local ingredients for close to 30,000supporters. "This will be the culinary equivalent of the original'60s celebration," said Stadtländer, leading up to the event."Each chef is pouring their talent into one dish, and if you lovefood, farmland and water, you will not be disappointed."Also served up was a healthy portion of entertainment, as the chefswere joined by a number of musicians including Blue Rodeo's JimCuddy, Sarah Harmer, members of the Bare Naked Ladies, and RonSexmith. "Happy to lend a hand to people who are trying topreserve the sanctity of water and arable land," offered Cuddy. "Ifa little music can help open some people's eyes to the risks we arefacing up here, then I consider myself lucky to be able to help."Cuddy's sentiments captured the tenor of the day, with everyonepleased to be a part of the experience and to stand in solidaritywith the farmers. Though I'm too young to have attended theoriginal Woodstock, I've seen the movie enough to confirm thatthere were sufficient similarities to warrant the use of "stock" inthe title. For starters, the rains from the week (and later in the day"Happy to lend a hand to people who aretrying to preserve the sanctity of water and arable land." - Jim Cuddy