Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and Drink

Weirdly but solidly rooted



You don’t need to be a full-blown locavore to grok the need to eat locally.

With California fruits and veggies devastated by an unseasonable frost, prices for much of the produce we normally find on local shelves have shot through the roof. (Don’t cry too hard — lettuce is about five bucks a head in Winnipeg right now.)

Add to that the ever-growing need to cut greenhouse gas emissions (sub-text: don’t buy produce shipped halfway round the world), and to support our farming neighbours, and you can come up with at least one good reason to source locally-grown produce.

So why not do all of the above, plus investigate a few radical, you could say ugly, veggies you’ve never tried before that have been grown right in Pemberton Valley? Bonus: they’re tasty and good for you.

All the root veggies described below are biennials — that means when they’re harvested, the plant is storing up energy to make seeds the following year. You eat the roots, you get the energy.

So take a trip up to North Arm Farm in Pemberton and stock up on what Jordan Sturdy calls weird root vegetables. Here’s a primer:


“B” is for burdock

Yes, burdock supplies those annoying burrs that stick to our socks. But it has also been used medicinally for centuries, as a diuretic, a blood purifier, as an oil to restore hair loss. But burdock root also makes a tasty side dish. Japanese cooking uses it in a number of ways, pickled and often dyed orange, in miso soup with pork, or as kinpira gobo . Now you, too, can cook up one of these amazing roots, which can be up to two feet long. If you like, soak julienned strips in water for 5-10 minutes before cooking, or blanche it. Pan fry it in butter, recommends Jordan, or rub it with oil, salt and pepper and roast it in a 325-degree oven for 20-30 minutes, and enjoy a sweet, smooth veggie high in fibre and calcium, and low in calories.


“C” is for crosnes, crazy carrots and celeriac