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On the foodie trail from Whistler to Pemberton

- August 18th, 2012

In British Columbia, the local, organic food movement is hugely popular.

With its abundance of seafood, temperate climate for fruits in the Okanagan Valley and gourmet restaurants and food trucks, it’s no wonder culinary tourism is a big draw in the province, especially so, as I discovered today, in Pemberton.

Scenery at Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef.

Scenery at Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef.

A 20 minute drive from Whistler, Pemberton is a small town filled with big flavours and exciting developments in the organic industry.

At Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef, Don Millerd raises cattle for natural meat products that are making big waves in the B.C. culinary world.

Local beef wasn’t as readily available in the area as locally sourced seafood, but that all changed after Millerd teamed up with his neighbours, Bob Mitchell and Roxy and Mark Kuurne, to raise about 60 cattle per year that roam free and are grass, then grain, fed. The meat produced is hormone and antibiotic free.

It’s made Pemberton synonymous with organic, free range products, says Millerd.

After two years on Millerd’s farm, the cattle are butchered and prepared at Two Rivers Specialty Meats, owned and operated by Millerd’s daughter and son-in-law, and the meat is sold to consumers and restaurants.

The free range cattle are healthy and happy at Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef.

The free range cattle are healthy and happy at Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef.

One of Pemberton’s hottest eateries, Mile One Cafe, is one local restaurant that has put Pemberton Meadows beef on the menu in its signature burgers.

Our group stopped by Mile One for lunch and were treated to a bevy of creative, gourmet dishes available at exceptionally fair prices. The roadside eatery is small and warmly decorated in art by local artists and its menu is displayed on chalkboards above the register.

See you at Mile One!

See you at Mile One!

A number of local beers are also on the menu and the owners, Randy Jones and Cindy Yu, use locally sourced produce in their dishes whenever possible. Just that morning, Yu told our group, a regular customer brought in lobster mushrooms he had harvested that would be used in the resto’s dishes that day.

First was the Wild & Tame Mac n Cheese with Two Rivers’ venison chorizo, mushrooms and grilled asparagus. Next was the Pemby Meadows burger with tomatoes and red onion.

Having just seen the cattle at Pemberton Meadows that morning, eating a burger made with meat from the farm was a surreal experience, but the juicy, flavourful beef burger proved that locally sourced and hormone free products really can elevate even a classic meal to a gourmet one.

Pemby Meadows beef burger at Mile One Cafe.

Pemby Meadows beef burger at Mile One Cafe.

We also tried the “Outlandish” Oyster burger before declaring ourselves stuffed. A unique, must try menu item, the burger is made with breaded oysters and Fraser Valley bacon. It was crunchy, savoury and completely fresh, having been made with oysters from B.C.’s Discovery Island.

After lunch, our group was off to Pemberton Distillery to sample the world’s only certified organic potato vodka. Using locally grown potatoes that aren’t fit for sale in grocery stores, Tyler Schramm uses techniques he learnt in Scotland to turn up to 100,000 lbs. of potatoes a year into a flavourful sipping vodka that can be enjoyed on its own without a mixer.

Sample organic potato vodka at Pemberton Distilleries.

Sample organic potato vodka at Pemberton Distilleries.

Gin, whiskey and local apple brandy are also being produced at Pemberton Distillery.

Needless to say, there are many exciting developments and products in Pemberton’s organic food industry. With so many consumers now looking to incorporate local and organic food products into their diets, one can only hope this delicious foodie trends continues to grow across the country.

For more information on travel to Whistler and area, visit EnjoyWhistler.com or HelloBC.com.

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