The Fraser Valley Food Show, an annual exhibition and celebration of local food, produce and innovation, dominated the Abbotsford Tradex Centre October 3rd to 5th. The infectious sense of community captured visitor and vendors alike as they explored their way through the sea of exhibitors. “We’ve been attending the show for years,” said Diane Herbert. “After a personal invitation to join the sausage making competition 3 years ago, I realized how naive we had been not to take advantage of exhibiting here in the past,” she laughed. Diane and her husband Dale are the proud owners of Davis Quality Meats. Conveniently and rather ironically, their shop is located about 10 minutes away from the food exhibition.
The sausage competition began three years ago, and since then has never ceased to disappoint regional carnivores. The varied categories and grading of each sausage is immensely diverse. What constitutes a German Salami over an Italian Salami, or a Frankfurter over a Bratwurst is beyond me. The competition narrowed down these categories even further as winners for the “best English style banger, or “South African Boewurst” were announced and confirmed.
Although the sausage competition explicitly seemed to take centre stage of the show, the realstars that shined were the foods and products showcased in the exhibition. The innovations brought to light by farmers, former and current cooks and chefs, deli and butcher owners, and even inventive housewives were marveled at by the eager crowds.
A feature that seemed recurring throughout the show? Gluten Free everything. Obvious products such as honey, delicatessens and salad dressings were proudly displayed. Beer, crackers, and even breads, food and drink traditionally not gluten free were even present. Gutenberg Beer in particular showcased an entire collection of gluten free beers, ranging from blonde to red to an exquisite Belgian Double.
Countless exhibitors have been in the business for decades. Hopcott Premium Meats for instance; located in Pitt Meadows just off the edge of the family farm, which has been in the Hopcott family for 3 generations. Their philosophy has always been to support local and do things the more old fashioned and natural way. This forward way of thinking has gained a lot of traction in the last decade as we see more and more young people with interests in food culture and what exactly they are putting in their bodies. “We’ve been doing it this way since we started,” Diane Herbert said, “it’s great to see its getting trendy in the public.” These guys were producing this way all along, even before it was cool. One could say they are the “hipsters” of food culture.
As votes got tallied up at the end of the competition and the winners were announced, smiles beamed and laughter filled the air. Black Forest Meats took first place overall and were even presented with the people’s Choice Award for their rich liver pate. Diane Herbert’s succulent pepperoni also received a second place prize in its division, while Hobcott’s placed in third for both their smoky and farmer’s sausage.