Last updated: Sept 14, 2021
A time of transition, in Autumn we reach for a favourite wool sweater and our palates are ready to savour the warm, rich, earthy and spicy flavours of fall. It’s a perfect time to explore Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands’ artisan producers of West Coast food and drink.
By choosing locally sourced products, you’ll know you’re getting the freshest foods and the unique essence of the islands, all while contributing to sustainability, the economy, and food security. It’s easy to find Vancouver Island grown and crafted products – just look for the Island Good brand label and messaging at local grocers and retailers. Fitting to the Island culture, Island Good products have many vegan, gluten free and non-GMO options.
You can go direct to the source at some Island Good producers. Take a behind the scenes tour and tasting at Blue Grouse Estate Winery in Duncan or a family-friendly visit to Nanoose Edibles Farm in Nanoose Bay to pick your own in-season produce.
Or start a new tradition this autumn with a Vancouver Island-inspired fall picnic featuring your favourite Island Good products picked up in your neighbourhood, along your travels or ordered online. Whether an intimate picnic for two or a socially distanced outdoor gathering of family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, you can take your Island Good fall bounty picnic to one of our islands’ hundreds of parks, trails and accessible shorelines – or just spread a blanket in the backyard!
Easy Ways To Include Local Products In Your Next Picnic
Start with the picnic essential – the sandwich. Pile your favourite fillings on a hearty, locally crafted bread-like Red Fife Cracked Grain with its ‘Hearth baked crust of the gods’ or the popular Wholegrain Khorasan with roasted pumpkin seeds from True Grain Bread Ltd. Dress it up with a Charcuterie Mustard or Spicy Tomato Savoury spread from Saltspring Kitchen Co.
Cooler days invite hot soups and stews you can bring in a thermos. Make your own from scratch or try a soup mix like West Coast Bouillabaisse or Fresh Catch Chowder from Tilly’s Galley. Just add seafood like clams, oysters, mussels, salmon and halibut – fresh or frozen from French Creek Seafood or canned from St. Jean’s Cannery. Spice up your homemade stew or chili with Woodfire Spice’s Island Spice Blend – “the spice to replace all other spice blends” – also great for chicken wing dip.
If your picnic has access to a fire or BBQ pit, fire up some of Victorian Acres Farm’s Chorizo sausages or Turkey Smokies for a Thanksgiving twist. Or give your meats and fish an autumn touch using earthy spice rubs from Pixie Chicks spices — try their Cowboy Coffee Rub on steak, rubs, pork or burgers, or their 5-Star Salmon Rub blend of brown sugar, rosemary, thyme and paprika, billed as a salmon ‘up-do’.
Pack individual portions of the quintessential picnic/BBQ side dish: potato, pasta and veggie salads. Create your own salads at home tossed with a gluten-free, nut-free and dairy free Yeshi dressing in Ginger Sesame, Original, Mild Chile or Smoky Chipotle. Or keep it simple with prepared deli foods from Arbutus Ridge Farms like the savory Zen Grain Salad, Beet & Onion Salad, Madras Curry Couscous or Smoked Cheddar penne salad.
Lightweight snacks and finger foods are an easy addition and can fuel you up along the trail. Try non-GMO Singing Bowl Granola bites, available in a variety of flavours and gluten-free options, or preservative-free ketogenic Louis Pasture Pork Crisps from Primal Sisters.
Add a simple dessert, like just-harvested apples alongside fresh-baked cookies (the easy way) like hOMe Grown Living Foods’ Pumpkin Spice or Double Chocolate vegan, grain and gluten-free U-Bake cookies.
Pack a bottle of wine to take the chill off. Try Unsworth Vineyard’s 2018 Allegro – described as ‘Vancouver Island in a glass’ – is a white blend crafted from grape varieties unique to coastal BC. For a tasty but zero-alcohol option sip a refreshing Goji Berry or Kumquat kombucha from Zen Moment Kombucha.
Finish with a thermos of hot tea or coffee. Try Fall-inspired teas like Amaretti Rooibos or Pumpkin Pie from Stonehouse Teas, or one of their specialty hot chocolate mixes – Maple, Crème Brulee, Cookies & Cream or Salted Caramel. You can spice up your regular coffee blend with autumn-inspired natural sweetener – try Crave Stevia liquid drop s in Toffee, Pumpkin Spice or Maple & Brown Sugar from Big Venture Sales.
Fireside, try the award-winning Drunken Hive Rum (deliciously described as caramel, toffee and vanilla on the nose, with a rich Caramel Brulee body and wonderfully complex Smoky Honeycomb finish!) or the Krupnik Spiced Honey Liqueur from Wayward Distillery.
If you’re short on time but want the picnic experience, 40 Knots Vineyard in Comox offers a rustic style picnic on the terrace, packed full of local cheeses, baguettes, smoked salmon and their own pickled grapes!
Where To Find Island Good Products
Wherever you are, you can Explore Vancouver Island’s unique climate, culture and vibe through the local food and drink. And when you choose Island Good products, its good for sustainability, it’s good for jobs, it’s good for us all.