ShazamFest, a unique outdoor annual summer festival, returns for its 14th edition, and this year with more whimsy than ever. It has perhaps the most eclectic diversity of performances to occur at a single festival.

ShazamFest features a diverse range of entertainment including, but not limited to: live music performances, circus acts, burlesque, dance, theatre, poetry, wrestling, skateboarding, and much more. The festival is set to take place from the 11th to the 14th of July (this weekend), and is to be hosted in the Eastern Townships, 90 minutes outside of Montréal at festival founder Ziv Przytyk’s organic family farm. Free roundtrip shuttle services from Montréal are available, as well as free on-site camping. 

The festival is also particularly distinctive for its green initiatives, as part of its dedication to an eco-responsible and sustainable approach. ShazamFest is very encouraging of its zero-waste initiatives, having only produced 12 bags of garbage at its 13th edition last year and aiming to create even less this year by encouraging festival goers not to bring single-use bags, using only reusable or compostable dishware, providing unlimited free local source water, bringing in organic local food vendors, and numerous other eco-friendly features.

The headlining acts of ShazamFest XIV will be Afrikana Soul Sister, Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire, the Souljazz Orchestra, and Susie Arioli. A few additional must-see features include Matthew Silver, Ziv’s Sunset Show, Bibi Lolo BangBang the clown, a burlesque segment by Swell Sisters La PetiteFleur and Queeny Ives, and many more.

Here’s the full lineup:  

Visit ShazamFest’s website for more information about the artists and tickets.

Win Tickets!

That’s right, FTB is giving you a chance to win a pair of tickets ($125 value) to Shazamfest! Simply share this post on Facebook or Twitter, tag @forgetthebox and say Shazam!

We will draw a winner from the entrants and announce it Friday morning.

For everyone else, tickets are available through ShazamFest.com

Happening on July 11-14, 2019, 2722 Way’s Mills, Ayer’s Cliff, QC J0B 1C0 in the Eastern Townships.

Free entry for children 12 years & under
Free admission all day Sunday 
Free roundtrip shuttle services from Montréal 
Free on-site camping

Now that world leaders and their negotiators have left Paris following the climate change pow-wow, the focus now shifts to the work needed to make a paper agreement hold together in practice.

Greenhouse gasses, overflowing landfills and destructive chemical waste pollute our atmosphere at unsustainable rates. That is clear. But while we put this pressure on governments and corporations to clean this up, shouldn’t we also ask ourselves what we can do, as individuals, to reduce our destructive environmental impact on the planet?

But I can’t point my finger at anyone else before shining the mirror on my own lifestyle. What I saw in reflection, was a small scale environmental disaster.

Facing this need to turn a new and greener leaf, I was inspired by a UK-based blogger, Joanna Yarrow, author of Beyond Green and the eye-catching philosophy on living an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

“Sustainable living is a bit like teenage sex. Few are doing it, and fewer are doing it properly.”

Sustainable living revolves around a few simple principles, according to my research. Consume less, and waste less stuff. Consume less energy and other non-renewable resources. Reduce our environmental footprint in ways that may seem indirect, such as paying attention to the way we travel and the way our food travels to us.

With that as my inspiration, I tried to kickstart a new way of life that is kinder to the planet, albeit in an incremental way. Many advise trying out these drastic changes for the manageable period of one week. That’s hardly enough effort to reverse the impact of years of damage to the environment, but enough time to test some new waters.

The water that that would be poured over my enthusiasm on day one was cold. Starting the week with a cold shower made me realize that it might be a better to attempt the energy conservation part of my plan closer to summer. Still, I knew that I would still have to cut down on the leisurely long hot showers that I normally enjoyed, drastically limiting my shower time to a maximum two minutes and reducing the eight litres of water that this part of our morning routine dumps down the drain every minute.

As for eating, I was prepared for how this passion in my life would be affected more than anything else during the week. If only keeping a keener eye for locally produced products was the only issue I’d face, I could easily breeze through this. Discovering Montreal’s burgeoning organic food market, which makes better tasting food more widely available was a bonus. But organic food, which is produced without dangerous by-products which are washed back into the water table, was also more demanding on my strict budget. So I’d have to find other ways to reduce my food budget.

Image: archinect.com
Image: archinect.com

Reducing the consumption of meat not only saves money, but it brings reported health benefits and is more sustainable for the planet due to the way that the production of meat devours more of the earth’s scarce land and resources. But cutting out meat ‘cold turkey’ was a drastic move for a carnivore like me so I found ways to merely reduce my meat intake and some delicious ways to replace it a couple of times a week.

Certainly my fast food habit had to be broken, if only to conserve the mountains of paper, cardboard and plastic produced by the fast food chains which are the biggest contributor to street litter, according to one study, and is not always successfully recycled.

Another form of recycling is a boon to those of us who hate shopping: Use it pp, Wear it out, make it do or do say anti-consumption groups who believe that most of us are buying stuff we don’t actually need. The impulse shopping habit absorbs precious resources by producing products to fill demand for new stuff while filling landfills with older stuff that’s often still usable.

I spent some of that shopping time at home mending, repairing, and patching up things I would have replaced instead, like replacing my old pair of jeans with a new pair that would probably look just as worn out and patched up.

Fruitful explorations of Montreal’s second hand stores, like Notre Dame West’s Salvation Army, turned up lots of gems among the junk, including furniture and house wares that often look as good as new, with the most significant difference being the price tag.

Avoiding these shopping trips also allows us to cut down on the use of a car for short local trips. I rekindled my latent passion for bicycle riding while visiting second hand stores. The bargain bike I picked up for $50 only needed some air and the tightening of a few bolts to get on the road. But the onset of winter is not great timing for a rider to get back on a bike. The late onset of the snow has been a blessing, but an Opus card might still soon come in handy.

But back at home there were a few things to sort out to make a more sustainable home that will last beyond this week. Turning down the thermostat one barely noticeable degree in winter saves lots of energy and more money than you might think, according to Hydro Quebec.

An audit of my water use showed that one flush of my toilet whirls more water down my toilet drain than many families in some parts of the world use in one day. I discovered the handy online tip of filling a plastic container with water and placing it in the toilet which tricks it into thinking it is full, saving some 1325 litres a year, according to the New York Times.

Useful tricks like these, along with understanding the benefits of buying less and thinking more about what I eat were all part of a very interesting experiment. But would the benefits weigh up against the inconveniences well enough to make this new lifestyle permanent?

The effect on my budget was probably neutral. The food bills went up, but utilities bills, when they arrive, should shrink. Time and money was better spent away from the mall, and I noticed my garbage containers are less than half full. But some changes were easier to implement than others. Cold showers and veggie food come quickly to mind.

Perhaps the greatest ongoing effect of the week was the level of consciousness brought to the impact of almost everything that I do, and how that is related to a sustainable future on this planet. Even if my contribution is only a little bit for a little time. That’s a little bit that helps.

* Featured image by Andrew Seaman (Flickr/Creative Commons)

10-things-food-josh

Many seminal things happened in 2013 in the culinary world. Here is a review of 10 moments that will forever affect how we eat, cook or play with our food.

But as “the culinary world” is really a thousand worlds, I’ve picked two from each of five different “regions.”

Montréal

1. We got food trucks back

However sanitized their reentry, 2013 saw the dismantling of legal obstacles to “mobile” food-selling and preparation in this city. After 60 years, this is no small feat and we shouldn’t take it lightly. Staid and stationary as the trucks might be right now, their presence will inevitably grow more fluid–and irrevocably change our sense of public space. Moreover, as mobile food enterprises grow, traditional restaurants will be challenged to evolve to remain viable, affecting cost, menus and overall experience.

2. No-shows got shamed

Thanks in part to a great article in The Gazette, those self-absorbed you-know-whats who simply vanish at reservation time were finally outed. While they weren’t exactly named, they were certainly shamed. Dialogue from the article spread far and wide and the concept of snubbing restauranteurs became akin to aiming a crossbow at the heart of a vulnerable local hub.

 

Québec

3. Rooftop greenhouses hit the big time

Once just a curiosity in an Ahuntsic warehouse, Lufa Farms has in two short years become well-known to Montréalers. The rooftop greenhouse has been supplying local homes and restos with foodScreen Shot 2013-12-29 at 1.48.43 AM since 2011.

But it was in 2013 that its mission hit the mainstream–and became a household name province-wide. This year Lufa opened its second, arguably more ambitious operation in Laval, vowing to export the model to the states. Québec City has already gotten on board, with a massive industrial rooftop greenhouse in the works for next year. Hell, rooftop greenhouses were so big in 2013 that they could even be spotted in yuppie-oriented Toyota Prius ads!

4. Critics finally learned to eat “out” (of town)

A proliferation of rural eateries seemed to make the press this year, led by Lesley Chesterman’s choice forays to À la table des jardins sauvages, Vices-Versa, and Bistro Champlain and M-C Lortie’s recurring crusades. Not to mention Dany St-Pierre (of Sherbrooke’s Auguste) winning Montréal’s chi-chi “Golden Plates” competition. Will finicky urban masses be quick to follow?

Canada

5. Celeb Canadian chefs trashed celeb American chefs for posing with this creepy mascot

I won’t get into the entire complicated backstory of the Chefs for Seals campaign, which hit fever pitch this year as thousands of the most glitzy (and Food Networked) US chefs signed on as mouthpieces for the warm and fuzzy cause. What’s important is that the fallout might have dented our neighbourly culinary relations and strengthened our national culinary community forever.

The US boycott of Canadian seafood provoked so much bark-back (seals, harbours…get it?) that Canadian chefs stood united and found a common voice. Their cause? To support hard-working fishing communities, respectfully-fished Canadian seafood products and the tradition of common sense.

There’s no end to the boycott in sight…but even a cursory glance at the debate reveals that Canadian chefs emerged victorious: respectful, rational, and reinvigorated in the face of their hypocritical foie-gras touting counterparts, most of whom just seemed desperate for a photo op.

6. Poutine restaurants officially became an epidemic

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Though poutine took Williamsburg, then the world, by storm a few years ago, the explosion of the “poutine restaurant” belongs to 2013.

With few exceptions, the poutine-only resto has been a novelty even in Québec until very recently. And though many scoffed at Smoke’s Poutinerie et al.’s attempts to usurp casse-croûtes on their home turf, the reality is that most poutine restaurants have thrived.

2013 saw poutine the theme of a Top Chef Canada episode, an otherwise respectable production, whose host introduced it (without irony) as “the one and only Canadian national dish.” And lest you think poutine still hasn’t found the mainstream, consider this: McDonalds across (gulp!) Toronto now feature the oozy delight.

North America

7. Jiro got reincarnated in New York (sort of)

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 1.45.38 AMMany consider the greatest living sushi master to be Jiro Ono, proprietor of ten-seat Sukiyabashi Ono in a Tokyo métro station. Ono has won three Michelin stars and international fame after David Gelb’s acclaimed 2011 documentary.

Portrayed as a rare relic of en era where masters lived, slept and, yes, dreamt sushi, critics were divided on whether Ono’s lineage would fully survive in Japan. But it seems it is North Americans who can breathe the most easy.

Ono protégé Daisuke Nakazawa (whose devotion to his master is insane in the aforementioned documentary) has opened his own shop in New York, and it appears to be the real deal…dare we say the boldest embodiment of Ono’s ethos outside Japan?

Unexpected, amazing, and only a six hour drive away now! North American sushi will never be graded by the same standards again.

8. Mexico is part of North America, remember?

The hard work of Enrique Olvera is legendary–only a decade ago, the hard-working chef was hand drywalling his space in Mexico City. Now, he has climbed inside the top 20 restaurants in the world. Sure, it’s an elite and controversial list. But it’s not only a testament to Olvera’s perseverance and artistry with Pujol, it’s a sharp reminder to the US (okay, Canada too) that Mexico is part and parcel of “North AmericanScreen Shot 2013-12-29 at 1.53.00 AM haute cuisine.” And, when it comes to culinary “fine art”–they’re here to stay.

World

9. The art of fermentation exploded

Not literally: no cooks were reported hurt by shards of broken glass from flying kimchi. But in 2013 chefs and cooks took the art of fermentation to the next level.

First, there was Sandor Katz’s landmark book, which proved its relevance to flavour, cooking and health. Next there was David Chang’s heady hit show that explored the intricacies of tsukemen, katsoubushi, kimchi and more, and MAD Food Camp (the culinary TED)’s focus on fermentation as the vanguard of gastronomical experimentation, and many other chefs’ insistence that given global food uncertainties anyone could–and should–culture at home. Far from a trend, the culinary world’s interest in fermentation is here to stay and will only get better with age.

10. Eggless eggs happened

Explosively-popular mayos and doughs suggest that “tech startup” Hampton Creek is well on its way to its goal of an eggless society. Its goal is to “surpass” the egg in taste, nutrition, cost and sustainability. Using only plants. So far, it has managed to draw sustained ire from the dominant industry, a good marker of any product’s culinary impact!

What were the most important moments of your culinary world this year? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us at @forgetthebox or @joshdavidson

 

It’s a bit of a fantasy.   A stock broker gets laid off, realizes how unhappy he was, finds an unused tract of land, then resurrects a farm.   I’d like to introduce you to Ramsey, owner of Ferme Carya in Senneville who had the courage to start over again as an organic urban farmer in 2005.

In some of the best agricultural land in Canada and possibly the world, Ramsey nurtures his 28-acre farm with care, using organic compost and the most natural, sustainable herbicide out there: human hands.

An 8 year old volunteer weeds between rows of dinosaur kale
An 8 year-old volunteer weeds between rows of dinosaur kale

“The world’s cultures have always been directly connected to the soil.   When our bare hands work in the soil, our brain receives serotonin.   It’s like therapy,” said Ramsey.

Ferme Carya (a type of hickory tree that is very populous on the farm) is one of the farms that makes a weekly pilgrimage to the Sainte Anne de Bellevue farmer’s market.   They also host a market at their farm, run a community supported agriculture program, delivering fresh organic produce to drop-off locations in Montreal.

One of the most exciting things about Ferme Carya is a spontaneously organized weekly community gardening and BBQ.

Ramsey teaches kids how playing in the dirt can feed you

Ramsey said that people just started showing up.   Every Wednesday from 9:30 am to noon families and individuals began arriving at the farm to get a little taste of the farm life.   “It has taken on a life of its own. Lots of families come from the neighborhood and we have ages from 3 to 80 that help,” said Ramsey.

At noon, everyone gathers at the barn for a feast of vegetarian and non-veg treats.   The BBQ is fired up, salads made from ingredients picked right from the farm are mixed and the conversation flows from plate to plate as eclectically as the people who come and volunteer their time.

The weekly farming activity will continue until the end of the farming season.   If you’re itching to take a break and gets your hands dirty, Ferme Carya can be found at 39 Chemin Phillips in Senneville, by phone at 514-312-7175 or via info@fermecarya.com for more information.

Being charitable with your time will not only give you some time to play in the dirt and have fun in the sun, it will also invigorate your awareness of how your food ends up on your plate.   It gets from field to fork because people work very hard to make sure you like it enough to get more.