Food wish list

Dear Santa,
As I can tell from your sturdy physique, you are a person who clearly enjoys good food.
I can just imagine some of the delicious North Pole fare you and the missus are tucking into these days: pickled herring in mustard sauce, lingonberry and cloudberry jams, and, of course, that traditional arctic specialty, reindeer sausage.
Well, come to think of it, that last one probably isn’t a favourite in the Claus household.
I, too, love good food, which explains why a grown man like me is writing to you with a Rainy River food wish list. To be clear, this is not a list of Rainy River food items I want to receive myself (that will be sent to you under separate cover).
Rather, this list represents my wishes for the entire Rainy River District food sector. Since you seem to have connections in high places, perhaps you can help one or more of these wishes to come true in the coming year.
(For the record, I think you’ll find that my name reappears on your “good” list this year. Sorry, again, about all those parking tickets in 2004).
So, here’s the list:
First, I wish that more Northwestern Ontarians will choose to eat Rainy River foods in 2006.
As you know better than anyone else, this is the season for giving. What few Rainy River residents realize is that by buying foods produced in the Rainy River District, they give the gift that keeps giving.
I’ve learned that money spent on foods coming from Rainy River swooshes merrily around in the local economy like mulled cider in a pot at a holiday party, whereas money spent on foods from away leaks out like that same hot cider served in a soggy Dixie cup.
Currently, the majority of money spent each year on food is flowing out of the region’s economy to pay for foods coming from other regions—or even other countries and continents sometimes thousands of kilometres away.
Surely, Rainy River eaters can help reduce that flow by actively looking for, and asking for, Rainy River foods at their local grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and restaurants.
Second, I hope local farmers, producers, and consumers can recognize the uniqueness of Rainy River District’s agriculture. Santa, you probably have noticed from your many moon-lit flights over this country that our farms are very different from other areas.
I know we don’t have the variety of fruit and wine of the Niagara region. However, Rainy River District produces local beef, elk, bison, vegetables, berries, eggs, honey, jams, jellies, and other preserves.
Third, and last, I wish for a new sense of unity and synergy among Rainy River’s many farmers, and food producers with our local consumers in the coming year. There’s no reason we shouldn’t all celebrate the richness and diversity of our regions agriculture.
Showing pride in, and loyalty to, Rainy River food products won’t save the world, but it can help preserve our little part of it.
Oh, yeah, one last thing: my niece asked me to remind you that they moved this past year. It would be a shame for all those Rainy River food items, um, I mean toys, to be delivered to the wrong address.
Happy holidays to you and Mrs. Claus,
Jarrod Gunn-McQuillan
Devlin, Ont.