Now that’s a tongue twister..bet you can’t say it accurately three times really fast!
In spite of producing 30% of all Canadian potatoes, PEI, as this Canadian Maritime Province and Island is called, is probably best known for ‘Anne of Green Gables’, a novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery. We loved her fiery and loquacious orphan, and her stories based on the novelist’s own childhood on PEI.
Her cousins, the Campbells, have been stewarding the land for 7 generations and run a museum with aptly attired characters, raspberry cordials, and draft horses harnessed for carriage rides. I appreciated the offer of a full-time job driving the rig pulled by “Prince”, a Belgian draft horse, but decided to remain retired. Any future job offers will always be compared with this cool job.
We have been enjoying the serenity and friendliness of the Island experience. Waiting overnight for the ferry, one older neighbor let us sleep overnight in his yard, called ahead to a tiny village cafe to tell them we were heading over, and to set aside some chowder and pie for us. Sweet! We also enjoyed a local photography expedition featuring the community elders…aged 95-102. That gives all of us “youngsters” inspiration to stay the course!
We learned that the Island population is predominantly elderly, as younger residents move to Western Canada to find seasonal work in the fishing, timber, mining and gas/oil recovery, and then they don’t return. The tourism season on PEI is only 5 weeks (3 weeks in July and 2 in August). The lobster fishing season is 8 weeks long, so the boats are pulled from the water and sit on potato farms for most of the year. Lobster Fisherman can only get $2.50/lb from distributors, and you can buy them on the side of the road for $5/lb. Although fuel and costs have increased in 30 years, the price of lobster has remained fixed. A strike by the fisherman last week did not change the cost, as lobster availability drives the price and this year is even more productive than usual, causing distributors to cap the yields from each fisherman to 500 lb./day. This view featuring a dry docked lobster boat, draft horses, set on the potato farm is ubiquitous on PEI as residents vary their work to meet the demands of the short seasons for each. Many tidy farms and homes are up for sale, especially in the North Cape.
We were happy to learn during our visit to the Canadian Potato Museum, that the potatoes from the Island are not genetically modified. Canada’s largest potato distributor was quick to refuse to purchase them, so most farmer’s quickly abandoned Monsanto Canada’s “New Leaf” program to eradicate the nasty Colorado Potato Beetle. The U.S. growers followed suit when McDonald’s refused to buy them. The potatoes are modified in seed form to defy the hungry beetle…only when Monsanto chemicals are applied. Monsanto has sneakily killed the Potato program, and switched instead to the “hidden industries” of soybeans, wheat, corn and rice. Now we will have to hunt for proof of Monsanto’s chemicals buried in our cereals, breads and tofu.
We appreciated that the Canadian Potato Museum on the Island, credits Thomas Jefferson with bringing French Fries to North America from his years living in France. What’s better for Democracy than non-Genetically Modified Starch?
During a tour of Alcatraz Island Prison in San Francisco, the guide, a former prison guard on the Island, told us that the prisoners were intentionally fed a high starch diet as it made them too fat and complacent to fight with each other and attempt escape. On that theory, this cafe menu – including Potato Fudge! – at the PEI Potato Country Kitchen is a great step toward World Peace.