Last week Robyn and I attended our first ever “Tweet-up.” For those of you as uncool as I was a week ago, a “tweet-up” is an in-person gathering of like-minded twitter users, in this case, for the purpose of celebrating and bringing awareness to the 8th birthday of Ontario’s Greenbelt. Although it involved making the trek out to Cafe Belong at Evergreen Brickworks on a rainy Tuesday night, we were very happy we did. Turns out, “tweeters” are super friendly, social people and no foodie in this province is worth his/her weight in tweets if he/she doesn’t seriously appreciate the Greenbelt and the people who work to protect it.
The event was co-hosted by Environmental Defence and acclaimed Chef Brad Long, which made for a perfect pairing. After all, what better way to celebrate environmental activism than with delicious local and sustainable food? Sarah Winterton taught us about the history of the Greenbelt (officially established in 2005, it protects 1.8 million acres (!) of environmentally sensitive agricultural land from urban sprawl, as well as forests, wetlands, lakes and rivers from contamination), following which Chef Long shared with us his passion for Ontario’s amazing (and under-appreciated) local food, including produce, wines, and dairy industry, appealing to both our minds and our taste buds.
Although I generally eat a pretty healthy pescatarian(ish) diet, I’m not above a cheeseburger with a side of cookie dough ice cream, and for that reason, I’ve never been a big fan of rules when it comes to eating. This is why Chef Long’s approach to eating local was so appealing. For him, eating local is about more than kilometer counts and organic certification – it’s about about creating a connection between the natural food from our land, the farmers that nourish and harvest it, and ultimately, the people who enjoy it. Everything at Cafe Belong is local, sustainable and organic, but more importantly, it all has a story. And that story is delicious.
Our tweet-up invite promised “nibbles”, but we left the the event with bellies full of braised beef, “faux pho”, Cave Springs wine, an incredible charcuterie spread and other bite size delights. If you’ve never been to Cafe Belong, now is the time. I am losing my mind over the brunch menu and I can’t wait to check out Long’s five course family style meal. The space itself is gorgeous (all that Le Creuset!) and it never hurts to know that the food you’re eating was raised/grown/prepared with love.
To learn more about the Greenbelt, check out the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance’s recent report: Good Things Are Growing in Ontario: Expanding Ontario’s Greenbelt Through Urban River Valleys.