Cookbook profiling Alberta food producers wins award

An alphabet book based on Alberta food and farmers has won a food literature award.

Foodshed: An Edible Alberta Alphabet, which profiles 76 Alberta growers and producers, won the best food literature award at the 2012 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards and will compete for the Gourmand Best in the World Awards during the Paris Cookbook Fair.

“It’s the Oscars of food writing,” said author Dee Hobsbawn-Smith.

She said she used her extensive network of contacts to tell the story of food.

Through the farmers, Hobsbawn-Smith discusses sustainability, animal welfare, farm labour and the environment.

“These farmers are largely engaged in sustainable agriculture for the local Alberta market,” Hobsbawn-Smith said about the dairy, cheese, wine, beef, market garden, lamb, grass fed beef, wild rice and asparagus farmers whom she interviewed.

“I wanted to profile people who are leaders making changes and are inspiring to the public,” said Hobs-bawn-Smith, now of Saskatoon.

Hobsbawn-Smith has been using, promoting and celebrating local food since 1992, when she opened her Calgary restaurant, Foodsmith. It’s a trend she believes is here to stay.

“There are a lot of good reasons for wanting to eat local food. People like knowing their money is going to local farmers, not disappearing into a vast food distribution network.”

She said consumers are increasingly interested in knowing more about food and the farmers who produce it, and her book is a way to help introduce farmers to consumers.

“They ask where to go to find farm-raised animals and ‘how do I know what they raise is healthy?’ ”

She said the book, which was published in April, has helped continue the conversation about food between farmers and consumers.

“People want more information and to gain more knowledge of their food and how to access it. It’s a book about food with recipes thrown in.”

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