Local Dragon’s Den Success, Celebrating Urban Farming

Tarren Wolfe, owner and inventor of Living Produce Aisle and a Dragon’s Den success story, takes fresh and local produce to the next level. Located in Gastown, customers will be able to choose from a dozens of different micro greens and herbs and have them freshly cut right from the urban cultivators.

ned-tarren living produce aisle

Their menu created by Four Season’s Executive Chef Ned Bell, mainly consists of smoothies and salads. A delicious recipe below – tried and tested.

Ned Bell - Living Produce Aisle

Urban cultivator was only offered for commercial uses, have been miniaturized for consumer consumption. Recommended for anyone who wants to take control of what they eat and start growing their own greens and herbs 365 days a year.

Skeptical at first, while I get the whole grow your own food sell, how was this green, this thing is on 24 hours a day, everyday. Upon further discussion, Urban Cultivators has the same energy output as a dishwasher.

Commercial Urban Cultivator - LPA

Ned Bell was spending around $2000/ month on fresh herbs and micro greens at the Four Seasons, an investment in one of these industrial sized ‘farm in a box’ retails for $6000 turned out to be a huge money saver. The home model produces about $1000 worth of greens per year, paying for itself in approximately two years.

For regular consumers like myself, I’d stick to purchasing pots. The greens were perfect, no yellowing, no holes where bugs nibbled. Walking in there are rows and rows of green machines, not even a designer landscape artist could reach to this level of perfection.

micro greens - Living Produce Aisle

All seeds are non-GMO and organic, Wolfe’s main supplier is Mumm’s from Saskatchewan.

Chef Ned’s “Sweet, Salty, Nutty and Fruity” Cranberry Hazelnut Honey Balsamic Salad

Artisan lettuce, Pea Tendrils, Beat Tops, Arugula, Kale Micro’s, locally grown and roasted Hazelnuts, locally grown Cranberries and Chef Ned’s Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette:


  • 4 cups canola oil
  • 2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 4 tbsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp cracked black pepper


Puree everything in a Vita Mix Blender. Check for seasoning and adjust with sea salt and pepper to taste.

 Additional Applications:

  • This dressing is great on any mixed greens or lettuces.
  • It is also a great dip for vegetables or fruits (apples, pears melon)
  • Try it with a warm potato salad, mixed bean salad, green beans, asparagus or your favourite pasta salad or cooked quinoa.
  • Serve with Dried Cranberries and Toasted Hazelnuts sprinkled on top


Food and Menu Trends for 2013


Here is what to be expected on our menus in 2013.

Beef represents a big challenge for food service operators for the next year, and very likely passed down to consumers. The 6% increase in cattle prices prompted a 8% increase in ground beef and 14% increase on choice steak cuts prices in 2012. To further the challenge, 2013 beef product is expected to decrease by 5% translating to an increase in prices to be record high by spring 2013.

The health conscious consumer. The trend of menu labeling will increase nutrition awareness amongst consumers promoting healthier ingredients like Kale, and whole grains, quinoa and farro.

Lightening our favourites. Our favourite heavy calorie meals are being lightened. CarlsJr tweeted “With only 490 calories in our NEW Jalapeno Turkey Burger, U can make a resolution to eat @CarlsJr every day.”

Game meat, specifically, elk, bison and venison. Consumers are becoming increasing adventurous and won’t mind paying extra $ for added quality.
Chicken breast Overkill. It’s a race to see who can use more chicken breast on their menus.

My favourite trend, is the farm to table concept. Restaurants are ordering local products, and regularly changing upscale comfort foods. You will see more local artisan products and local craft beers.

Heavier food marketing for millennials promoting for Group Grazing. Small share plates, and even street food vendors inspire cravability.

Starbucks Rolling out Reusable Plastic Cups

Starbucks Takes A Step Towards A More Affordable Sustainable Culture

source: Starbucks

Whether this is a smart marketing ploy from the Seattle base coffee giant or a true effort to help consumers move towards becoming more environmentally conscious, Starbucks will be rolling out reusable cups starting today, any customer who brings the cups back for a refill receive a $.10 discount. The cups cost $1, making it a lot more affordable compared to the $20 Starbucks coffee travel mugs.

It might not be a huge discount but it is a step towards consumers becoming more environmentally conscious.

During the past few weeks researching and blogging for my Demystifying Our Food Series, I’ve really been more conscious of the food I consume and how it is consumed. No, I am not a tree hugging hippie, I am inspired by the people that continues to go the extra mile when producing or purchasing sustainable food, ensuring that we as consumers continue to have access to healthier options.


Related Articles: Demystifying our Food Series

Tips On Choosing Your Bird This Christmas

Starbucks Rolling out Reusable Plastic Cups


Tips On Choosing Your Bird This Christmas

The second installment to my demystifying our food series, uncovering truths in the foods we consume.  As a host and chef on CBC’s Village on a Diet, and guest on numerous regular TV features, owner of Bittered Sling Extracts and finally Co-owner of Kale & Nori Catering, Jonathan Chovancek has got his work cut out for him. Chef Jonathan – Kale & Nori

Source: Hello Vancity
Chef Jonathan – Kale & Nori

I caught up with him at Blenz for a late coffee. What caught my interest other than his abundant energy was his passion when he spoke of promoting a sustainable food culture, its pitfalls and triumphs. We can all agree that the organic, sustainable, ethical food movement has become a political and billion dollar behemoth. There will always be people trying to take advantage, which impedes the movement’s growth by making consumers skeptical.

Champions to the Cause
Jonathan and a few other chefs in Vancouver have to taken it upon themselves to preserve the movement’s core values. Jonathan goes the extra distance to ensure that his clients and guests of Kale & Nori Culinary Arts Catering consume ingredients that supports a sustainable food movement, meaning antibiotics free, free of dangerous chemicals and pesticides and ethically raised. Ethically raised, I don’t mean coddling the animals. They should not be so confined that they cannot move, so fat that their legs give out and pumped up with drugs when they start to get sick or start developing cancers.

Going the Extra Mile
To ensure that the quality of the ingredient is what is promised we need to know the source of the ingredients. “Most food is sold from origin to distributor to sub distributor. Getting to the source, knowing where the food originated and what is was fed, how it was grown is important. How long has it been dead, picked, preserved. Understanding that the quality is at its peak for only a few hours and from that point on it is diminishing.”

The Cheaters and Scammers

Chickens penned, poultry processing

Source: Dawn.com

There is a colossal difference between “Antibiotic Free” chicken and “Raised Without Antibiotics”. Jonathan compared it to professional sports, where technology has allowed the farming industry to effectively mislead consumers to believing they are buying a healthy product. Chickens may still have been pumped with drugs , it would have been already flushed out during testing. I do want to point out, there are still independently owned farms not controlled by the monopoly food producers. They go the extra mile to ensure their food is sustainably raised.

Chicken Farm Testing and Protocols
Drugs does not refer to hormones or steroids, which were been banned in Canada since the 1960’s. I’ve reached out to Marty Brett, representative for the Chicken Farmers of Canada – CFC for a comment. For conventional chickens, they do not do on-farm testings, during the time at the processing plant random tests are conducted usually by the CFIA to ensure there are no drug residues left in the birds. Each medicine has its own withdrawal time, for example if it is given to the bird too late in the cycle, there will still be residues of the drug left. CFC claimed “to date no random testing has found residues in chickens”.

Chicken farmers will need to abide by the On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program which includes protocols from our Animal Care Program, which require stringent record-keeping for every flock that is accompanied to the processing plant. Including, grow-out period, type of feed, temperature of barn, water testing. These legal binding forms are then audited by 3rd parties in each province at various intervals, all led by the CFIA. Farmers in violation of these guidelines face stiff penalties like stripping their quota which prevents them from selling chickens. I highly recommend reading CFC’s section on Understanding Your Choices, which compares the different choices, free run, free range, organic chicken. It’s a great read.

What Should Consumers Do?
Ask a lot of questions. While consumers, myself included purchase meats or produce at chain grocery stores and by that point it been re-distributed from the original source a few times, the purchaser will still be able to provide very useful information. “Putting the onus on the distributors to provide consumers with full disclosure is challenging and there a court cases pending right now about labeling our food. We must ask more questions of the people serving and selling our food and make the decision with our dollars to not support unethical industries”, answered Jonathan

Related Articles: Demystifying Our Food Series

Menu Trending, the Truth on Who Decides What We Eat

Starbucks Takes A Step Towards a Affordable Sustainable Food Culture

Menu Trending, the Truth on Who Decides What We Eat

Remember when menu trending buzzwords like low-fat and low-calorie, sugar-free was everywhere?  Found on menu’s to granola bars and chocolate chip cookies. These menu trend buzzwords were synonymous with healthy living. Then it began to gradually take on another meaning. Consumers were becoming educated on what they were consuming. Sugar- free is just another word for aspartame, an artificial sweetener gaining increasing evidence of being a serious health risk. One ingredient found in aspartame is methanol, which is a chemical used to make antifreeze.

Today’s Menu Trending Buzzwords

Penetration Growth
Gluten 3.2% 72.5%
Grass-Fed 1.2% 43.8%
Quinoa 1.9% 30.3%
Farro 1.2% 30.3%
Vegan 2.9% 19%
All Natural 4.3% 15.4%
Local 6.7% 8.3%
Organic 9.2% 6.4%
Whole Wheat 15.3% 6.1%
Diet 1.5% 1.3%
Fat Free 6.3% 0.2%

source: http://www.datassentialsurveys.com/mtd/newsletter/2012/130/index.html

Gluten is making a huge headway, which up until 5 years ago no one knew about.  For some of us it is a medical condition, for others they believe it’s a path to a healthier lifestyle

Although consumers, myself included, may not know what the labels truly mean just yet, we understand the general implication, food that is better for us.  Or is it? Are we falling for another marketing ploy or are there substantial benefits to eating organic, gluten-free, grass-fed versus the conventional produce.

I found out a local Vancouver chef, only imports organic produce within Canada, asserting that the USDA organics label is worth shit. What the hell, what have I been eating the past few months, paying double for organic produce?

In the next few weeks I will be launching a Food Series: Demystifying Our Food. Along with Hello Vancity,  we will be on a mission to uncover the truth behind what we are consuming.

What does organic exactly mean and does it justify their prices? Since when has the label “organic” changed to “all natural” and why?  Farmed versus Wild, Grass fed versus Grain fed, Fair Trade isn’t as fair as we like to think. In the next few weeks I and a team of bloggers will be featuring local farmers, chefs and businesses around Vancouver, BC.  Stay tuned.