Locavore Latkes

Organic Campus provides healthy, local food for students

We wanted to make a seasonal dinner for our friends with food that we bought locally – really locally: a tall order with the limited opportunities for year-round, organic food on campus. So we looked for produce that was in season, available at local farms, and easy to find. After rallying the troops and making the trek, we decided to stop by the Shatner building on our way home on Monday to see what Organic Campus had to offer.

At the Organic Campus stall, we met Matthew Hawco, the group’s general coordinator. Here’s what we found out about the initiative: Organic Campus currently operates four days a week, Monday to Thursday, from 12 to 5. On Monday they were stationed outside, but now that it’s getting colder, you can find them in the lobby of Shatner.

The group has come a long way. In past years, you would have to pre-order your food. Now you can pick up whatever produce and freshly baked goods suit your fancy on the day you shop. Having received a grant from Generations Pact, the group now has big plans for the future. They want to open up a storefront in Sadie’s Corner in Shatner. Along with a counter and rolling grill, they hope to acquire a commercial fridge, allowing Organic Campus to increase the variety of products available to students on campus.

Organic Campus gets most of its produce from Glen Robertson Farm in Ontario, about an hour and a half away from Montreal. Visiting their stall is just one of the ways to eat locally during the winter season. Hawco recommended that students check out McGill’s Food System Project and read the labels on the produce in your grocery store (“grown in” means that it was actually grown in Canada whereas “produced in” means that that’s only where the packaging took place). His current favourite seasonal dish is Brussels sprouts with sage butter, which sounds delicious to us.

For now, with limited space and the ground frosting over, there isn’t a lot offered in terms of variety at Organic Campus. Until we see greater sustainable changes made to the University’s food systems, we’ve got another seasonal recipe for you to try.

Classic Latkes
Since potatoes were Organic Campus’ veggie of choice, latkes were our dish of choice. Here is a classic no-fail recipe. Just don’t be grossed out by how much oil you use. It’s part of their charm. This is a ratio recipe, so double as you see fit. We made about five times as much and over 10 people were very, very full.

3 medium-large potatoes, peeled and grated1 onion 1 egg¼ cup floursalt and pepper to tasteCanola oil (varies for every pan and every latke)
This recipe is a lot easier if you have a food processor that has a grater widget. If not then you’ll have to do this by hand, which takes considerable time. Peel and grate your potatoes. Dice your onions. Mix potatoes, onions, egg, flour, and salt and pepper. Pour about a centimetre of oil into a frying pan. Let it heat up. Spoon in latkes. Fry them until one side is crispy. Flip and do the same to the other side. Transfer to a plate or baking sheet that has a paper towel on top (like with bacon, you want to soak up some of the oil). Repeat until you’ve cooked all the potato mixture. Add oil as you go along. They won’t cook right unless you have a gruesome amount of oil.