The first staff-person I spoke with this month was Geoff Nelson, who has been working at the co-op in the Meat Department for about a year. Geoff was feeling a little self-conscious about the idea of having his photo taken for the article, but he was excited enough about recommending a product to eventually concede to it. For his pick Geoff chose the whole Canard Duck from King Cole Ducks Ltd.
Some readers may not realize that the Co-op carries duck; it can be found in the freezer section. Geoff chose to recommend these to you because he feels duck provides a nice change of pace from other readily available poultry. He says it has a rich and complex flavor that pairs well with a variety of wines (even reds). Geoff says you should be sure to use the carcass to make an incredibly flavorful stock that is an excellent addition to any soup, and save, strain, and cool the leftover rendered duck fat to spread on toast.
King Cole is a Canadian company that has been family owned and operated since 1951, when they began selling ducks from an open truck at Toronto’s famous St. Lawrence Market. King Cole prides itself on being the only fully vertically integrated farm of its kind in North America – they conduct research, breed, hatch, grow, process, and ship their ducks and associated duck products (King Cole, 2015). They were the first producer in North America to achieve Safe Quality Food (SQF) accreditation as part of the Global Food Safety Initiative. They believe that this is a direct result of never using preservatives, hormones, or growth stimulants on their farm; their birds are also antibiotic and phosphate free.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) banned free-range ducks several years ago to protect the birds from viruses and disease such as Avian Influenza, so King Cole instead utilizes large, free-run barns with plenty of fresh air and unlimited fresh well water, where the birds can be raised in a stress-free environment. Environmental stewardship and sustainability are core values in the company, and King Coles has led the way in water and waste management, land reforestation, composting, carbon reduction, and zero product waste farming in Ontario. Initially starting on a 100-acre parcel of land, the company today runs 14 farms that total 1,200 acres throughout the York Region.
The next staff person I spoke with this month was Erika Kingsland, who has been working at the co-op as a Deli Server for two months. Erika’s recommendation is the house-made banana nut bread that is sold in slices in the breakfast case (directly above the cookies, across from the sandwich bar). Erika says she recommends the banana bread because it is delicious, really soft and moist, and it has just the right amount of nuts. Erika enjoys its versatility -- she often grabs it when she needs a satisfying breakfast on the go or just a mid-day snack.
The house-made banana bread is actually one of the top selling items made in the Co-op bakery. It is made using organic ingredients and cage-free eggs. The banana nut bread slices in the breakfast case fall in a rotation with the sour cream coffee cake, zucchini bread, and the lemon cranberry bread. These are prepared by the evening prep bakers, so that they can be fresh and ready to stock the case daily by 7 am. A nut-free whole loaf version of this banana bread is also made in the Co-op bakery, and can be found in the produce department on the banana island. It is a quick and easy contribution to any potluck!