Renowned author, travel writer and founder of Alberta Food Tours, Inc., Karen Anderson’s latest project, Eat Alberta First is helping readers choose local first.
Anderson was inspired by her love of Alberta’s farmers, ranchers, food artisans, and the diverse food produced in the province.
In 2018, when co-writing Food Artisans of Alberta, with Tilly Sanchez, Anderson travelled across Alberta, meeting with, and writing about 200 people.
“I’ve been blessed to partner with and befriend people of many cultures since living in Alberta,” Anderson said. “It’s a real thrill for me to share the recipes of my family and all my home cook and professional chef friends.”
After finishing the project, Anderson was inspired to create a cookbook that would inspire Albertans to utilize the abundance of signature foods grown in their own backyards.
“Readers can expect a celebration of the bounty of produce grown in Alberta,” Anderson said.
Eat Alberta First features fresh produce for the spring and summer, canning and pantry recipes for the fall and winter, along with recipes highlighting farmers and artisans.
Anderson explained Alberta has seven signature foods, including beef, bison, canola, honey, Red Fife wheat, root vegetables, and Saskatoon berries.
Eat Alberta First features 90 recipes that have been created to inspire home cooks to source and use local ingredients, with stories highlighting cultures with recipes to celebrate throughout the year.
“The recipes are things you’ll want to make. They are laid out in a fun way with six micro seasons that reflect our very specific climate and way of life in Alberta. From the long, dark, and deep winter to cabin fever to our dicey spring and full-on summer to the time when fall is back, and we hurry up and harvest,” Anderson said.
She added, “I hope these recipes become part of the fabric of their lives. They are tied to this place. They are tied to our seasons. They can create connections and they can create community.”
For Anderson, teaching readers how to support local, and share information categorized by six regions throughout the province was extremely important.
“With about a million households in the province, spending $20 a week on local food could add up to over a billion dollars each year,” Anderson said.
“That’s a huge impact that could help the next generation of farmers make a go of it.”
When writing Eat Alberta First, Anderson kicked her cooking up a notch.
“It’s one thing to cook so something is tasty, it’s a whole other ball game cooking a dish so it’s also beautiful enough to be photographed,” Anderson said. “I’m very grateful to the photographers I worked with to produce food photos that will inspire people to actually want to make the recipes.”
Going forward, Anderson is on a mission to connect people with soil and food to ensure healthy people, and a healthy, vibrant community.
Eat Alberta First not only shares stories and recipes to connect people, but also teaches readers how to forage responsibly, how to make sourdough, how to can and preserve, where to source food, and challenges for proficient cooks.
“So far, the people who’ve tried the recipes and gotten copies of the books have said, ‘These are things I want to make.’ That makes me happy,” Anderson said.
“I hope everyone who picks up the book will find something they identify with and something they will love,” she added. “I hope the book helps Alberta’s food culture develop further as people recognize and own the bounty we have here.”