Come Wander

Raise your hand if you’re all about snacks while hiking, camp meals on the fire, or cabin feasts with friends? (we’re going to go ahead and assume that your hand is up because all these things are awesome).

Plant life contributes to the ecosystem, meals are the cornerstone of communities, and packing the right food for outdoor activities can mean the difference between a safe experience and a challenge.

So, what does food have to do with responsible recreation? A lot actually, and maybe more than one may initially realize!

Responsible tourism is an overarching term that encompasses safety and environmental impact. It means being a good land steward while being respectful of oneself, others, and nature. This article will take a closer look at food and food practices with that responsible recreation lens, an aspect that is not often considered but can have significant impact.

Food and the Environment

Ever plucked a raspberry off the bush while hiking, smiled, and kept walking? Or thrown a fruit peel out the window while driving? How about sharing nuts or bread with birds? When it comes to our food practices and the environment, our innocent or well-intentioned habits do not negate impact.

Foraging has increased with popularity over the recent years, along with hiking and other outdoor activities. From puffballs to edible flowers, it’s a wild world (pun intended) that is exciting and piques our curiosity.

Hold up – before you run out to start foraging on local lands, ask yourself:⁠

  • Is it legal on this land? (hint: see below)⁠
  • Can you accurately identify the plant?⁠
  • Is this a species at risk?⁠
  • Do you know what part of the plant is edible?⁠
  • Is it the right season to pick this plant?⁠
  • Can you forage in manner that conserves the species? ⁠
  • Do you know how to prepare the plant for safe consumption?⁠

The Legal Stuff

Did you know that in Ontario, foraging is prohibited in provincial parks without proper authorization and also in conservation reserves? The article ‘Where the wild things are: Foraging in Ontario’ by Jordan Whitehouse states; “Some municipalities…ban foraging in city-run parks, forests, and ravines. The province prohibits the harvesting of any plant listed as endangered, threatened, or extirpated.”

Beyond the legal implications, you also have to take an honest and humble approach by asking yourself if the experience of foraging is worth the impact to flora and fauna.

Did you know that we have at risk plant species in Ontario? Many parks, conservation areas, nature/wildlife reserves work hard to protect and nurture environments to help these species survive.

What about food waste? Two general rules are that the outhouse is not a garbage and throwing food scraps and peels out the car window or to the side of the trail is not acceptable. Why? Well, firstly, it goes against the Leave No Trace 7 Principles to outdoor ethics. Secondly, leaving food in the wild can negatively impact the wildlife.

Which bring us to the final point in the section, that sharing is not caring when it comes to wildlife. Wild animals are supposed to eat wild things. We can do more harm than good by introducing new food sources, attracting wildlife to roadways, and creating dependencies. Some municipalities have laws against feeding wildlife.

To learn more, visit the provincial site for more wildlife dos and don’ts.

Food in the Local Community

 “Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people eat together.” ~ Guy Fieri

At our gatherings, whether it is for celebrations, loss, or simply social, food is always the pillar. We bond over food, and research shows that eating together may positively contribute to health outcomes.

When it comes to food, we are blessed in the Ontario Highlands. From farmers to artisans to bakers to cafes to food trucks – we have it all. This means that when you’re visiting, there’s always an opportunity to support local by buying and eating local.

There are so many delicious food trucks in Almonte, along with treats like Hummingbird Chocolate, and the donuts (now vegan options!) at HFT. Perth has incredible community based food stops like Picnic Perth and NorthFolk Café.

Let’s not forget Oh-el-la Café and Neat Café in Calabogie for those perfect post hike meals. How about Ottawa Valley Coffee in Renfrew? Or Fifth Chute Coffee in Eganville? And I know that their butter tarts are world class but have you tried the vegan poutine at The Cottage Cup in Golden Lake?

Speaking of butter tarts, have you tried the butter tarts from Hidden Goldmine Bakery in Madoc? Gooey, sweet, and delicious – the perfect tart for a fall day. Pair it with wine from Potter Settlement Winery or cider from Kings Mill Cider.

Get some amazing cured meats from Seed to Sausage in Sharbot Lake, and while you’re there pick up some cheese to accompany it from Back Forty Cheese in North Frontenac, or The Barn Chefs in Coe Hill or Ontario Water Buffalo Company for some truly amazing cheeses.

In Haliburton, you won’t lack for places to connect with delicious food, like fine dining at Rhubarb Restaurant in Haliburton, or stop in at McKeck’s Tap & Grill for an Italian heritage pizza baked in a stone oven. Abbey Gardens will have something homegrown for you to take with you.

Safety and Self

When it comes to our own safety, there are a few responsible recreation tips when it comes to food.

  • The golden rule while hiking is to eat and drink, even when you don’t feel like eating and drinking.
  • Keep electrolytes on hand while enjoying the outdoors, no matter the season. Keep a package or two of electrolytes in the first aid kit.
  • Snacks and meals don’t have to be fancy or expensive. There’s always the option to carry protein and snack bars, but you can also keep it simple with fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, nut butters, meat sticks or jerky, and trail mix.
  • Carry emergency food and a water filtration system.

There is plenty of “food for thought” when it comes to responsible recreation and safety for the environment, community, and self.  Mostly, it’s about building connections over a commonality, and then being aware of how our food habits have impact.

After all, as Chief Seattle is quoted as to saying; “The Earth does not belong to us: we belong to the Earth.”

Looking for more inspiration for connecting to food in Ontario’s Highlands? Click here to find more information about making an edible connection in the region.

Top 7 Comfort Foods and Where to Find Them

3-Night Cross Country Edible Adventure

Connecting People Through Food in Lanark County: Ian Carswell

Secrets to Unforgettable Edible Experiences

Stories

Light Up the Holidays

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  When the holiday decorations go up in December the whole world begins to shimmer with magic. Every car ride or stroll is filled with wonder as we drink in the night filled with sparkling holiday lights of all colours. For the next […]

Responsible Tourism: Building Connections

*When wandering in Ontario’s Highlands, please be aware of any local travel restrictions and guidelines. Vaccine passports accompanied by photo identification are currently required to enter some businesses.  Is there any better feeling of aliveness than the way we feel when we connect to ourselves and others? Connections give us a grounded, joyful sensation of awareness and interaction that […]

How to Strengthen Your Connection to Yourself and Others

*When wandering in Ontario’s Highlands, please be aware of any local travel restrictions and guidelines. Vaccine passports accompanied by photo identification are currently required to enter some businesses.  Let’s face it, we live in a pretty disconnected world. Especially over the last year and a half, we’ve begun to connect primarily through digital media like social media, cell phones, […]

Connected to People: Ro Nwosu

“My calling is to help people, to help them see the way they move is so unique to who they are.” – Ro Nwosu What do you get when you take the rich Nigerian and maritime cultures, pepper in a dash of Valley, a twist of determination, and combine? You get a people loving, community […]

10 Festive Events to get the Holidays Started

*When wandering in Ontario’s Highlands, please be aware of any local travel restrictions and guidelines. Vaccine passports accompanied by photo identification are currently required to enter some businesses. The holidays just don’t seem like the holidays without taking part in some fun community events. We miss seeing friends and neighbours during these once-a-year community gatherings […]

Shiver-Worthy Spooky Spots

There’s something lingering in the air throughout October, leading up to the culmination of all things spooky on its final day – Halloween.   October starts with the summer’s lush canopy of green bidding a final farewell through a stunning display of vibrant colours. When the leaves die off and settle as a multi-coloured blanket on the forest floor, and the fog rolls in over the lakes and […]

Food for Thought: Responsible Tourism Through Food

Raise your hand if you’re all about snacks while hiking, camp meals on the fire, or cabin feasts with friends? (we’re going to go ahead and assume that your hand is up because all these things are awesome). Plant life contributes to the ecosystem, meals are the cornerstone of communities, and packing the right food […]

4 Ways to Connect with the Land

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. The next time you are outdoors, take a moment to stand and truly feel of the land beneath your feet. If you concentrate really hard you may be […]

Connecting to the Land and Algonquin History: Amber Hein

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. On my mother’s side, I am Algonquin Anishinabek, an original inhabitant of Turtle Island, known today as North America. The traditional homelands of the Algonquin people are the […]

How to Give Back to the Land

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. – Amber Hein is Algonquin Anishinabek, an original inhabitant of Turtle Island, known today as North America. Read her perspective on how to give back to the land […]

Educate Yourself About Indigenous People and their Cultures

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. Canadians are becoming more aware of the injustices perpetrated against Indigenous Peoples since settlers arrived on the shores of Turtle Island (North America). Still, many of us aren’t […]

Responsible Tourism: Be a Better Ally to First Nations peoples

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. Canada is home to more than 630 First Nations, representing over 50 sovereign nations with their own lands, culture, language, creation stories, language or dialect. With such a […]

Fall Studio Tours, Theatre, Maple, and More

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. The summer may be over but that doesn’t mean the party has to stop. Events that take place in fall are in many ways even more amazing than summer events – there are no bugs, the weather is more reasonable, and we’re all eager […]

Responsible Tourism: Respecting Nature’s Soundscape

When you hike, is it to experience nature? Perhaps catch up with friends? Whether if it’s one or the other – or maybe both! – nothing trumps taking a pause to listen to nature’s ‘music’. There is beauty is listening to bird songs, frogs’ choruses, and the wind through the trees. In fact, it’s an […]

3-Day Creative Retreat

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. A creative spirit craves uninterrupted time to dream, wander, and replenish. It longs to absorb the creative vibes from others and bask in beautiful art and artistry. If your creative well has run dry or you are looking for an inspirational retreat to relax […]

Translating the Vibe in Haliburton: Nick and Benton

“In every season, Haliburton is inspiring – the pace, vibe and cottage feel creates the perfect setting for creativity.” ~ Nick Russell & Benton Brown, Haliburton musicians Picture this: You are at the cottage seated with friends and/or family around a roaring bonfire, the low murmur of voices competing against a chorus of crickets and […]

Find Inspiration in Ontario’s Highlands

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. We all want to be able to make beautiful music, paint stunning works of art or write beautiful prose, but if it were easy, everyone would be doing it, wouldn’t they? It’s fair to say that fostering creativity is difficult to achieve in a […]

Get the Most Out of a River Experience

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. Getting to know a river is almost like embarking on a wet and wild love affair. You forge a connection, learn everything you can, and then strengthen it over time. Sounds like a relationship, doesn’t it? The connection you have with a body of […]

Responsible Tourism: Discover the Benefits of Local Travel

When was the last time you discovered a local landmark or business that you didn’t know was there? In Ontario’s Highlands, we have some amazing spots and experiences that you might be surprised to hear about. For example, did you know the longest canopy boardwalk in the world is located in Haliburton Highlands? Or that […]

Finding Beauty in the Everyday: Meet Rosemary Leach, Almonte Artist

The community of Almonte has a habit of creating and fostering artists, a trend that’s perpetuated in the work and life of Almonte artist, Rosemary Leach. Rosemary and her husband, Jake, originally hail from Toronto and Peterborough, respectively, and intentionally went looking for a community with an unhurried pace in which to settle down when […]

The Evolution of Art: Wendy Wood, Haliburton Artist

Haliburton artist, Wendy Wood, has lived everywhere from Kapuskasing to the shores of Lake Erie, but says nothing can compare to the creative atmosphere in Haliburton, particularly when it comes to fostering art and artists. “There’s a little bit of everything here,” Wendy explained. “The art school here draws everybody…you have top-notch teachers then people […]

Local Love: 9 Local Gift Ideas You Can Order Online Today

‘Tis the season – for shopping. Yes, the leaves may have barely fallen from the trees but the jack-o-lanterns will shortly be switched out for ornaments and holly and the days are numbered before the holidays are here live and in person. This year when planning your shopping to-do list, we have two words for […]

Finding Good Medicine on Thunderbird Mountain

Having a guide can turn an everyday hike into the most amazing adventure. Although I’d hiked on my own in the past, making the hike with Tim Yearington of Bird Mountain Journeys wove together a story that allowed a deeper connection and different outlook on nature and history. It gave me a greater outlook on […]

Haunted Walks and Hair-Raising Ghost Tours

Have you ever wandered through an older building and felt the hair raise on the back of your neck, and not been sure why? It may be you are sensing something that others aren’t, some spooky aftereffect from a historical wrongdoing or the ghostly pinings of a disgruntled spirit. Many small communities in Ontario’s Highlands […]

The Artist’s Way

Who says art can only be found in big galleries or urban showrooms? To find fantastic local and Canadian art you need to head to the places that inspire artists to create, and Ontario’s Highlands is among the most beautiful places in Ontario (in our humble opinion). Beyond the inspiration found in the rugged hills […]

Big Attractions in Ontario

Are you the type to pull over when you see a comically large roadside attraction, or a picture-perfect spot to snap a few shots? Amateur photographers and Instagrammers alike can agree that a giant ice cream cone, a massive mural adorning the side of a building, or a full-size replica of a jet plane are […]

Ground to Glass

Discover how four craft drink makers harness Mother Nature’s flavours to elevate their beverages in Ontario’s Highlands.

With Love, to the Ottawa Valley

From the rushing waters of the Petawawa, Madawaska and Ottawa rivers to the unspoiled woodlands of Algonquin Park, the Ottawa Valley is a sultry enchantress, enticing us with adventure. Renowned as a world-class whitewater destination and for the challenges found in its rugged hills and lush dales, the Valley pushes us to do more, live […]

With Love, to Lennox & Addington

Known for its pristine wilderness, incredible views and rugged natural spaces, the majestic beauty of Lennox & Addington speaks to the wanderer inside us all. From the craggy peak of Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo Provincial Park to the starry skies overhead, there is wonder waiting to be discovered here, a vivid reminder of how our […]

Your Guide to COVID-19 Safe Travel in Ontario’s Highlands

This year the key to exploring is to keep it local; this is the time to explore our own backyards, and the regions close to home that have so much to offer us in the way of exhilarating outdoor experiences, fantastic food and drink, and blissful relaxation. If you’re exploring a new corner of Ontario’s […]

Get in Step

April Verch, fiddler, singer-songwriter and step dancer extraordinaire teaches the basics of stepdancing.

Exhale and Unwind

Experience a slice of farm life at Dwyer’s Farmhouse in the Ottawa Valley.

Discover Hidden Gems

Feed your curiosity and explore the diverse geology of Ontario’s Highlands at these Recreational Geology locations.

Shine at Giving this Holiday Season

Today’s craft markets are full of fresh, hip products made by creative and talented makers. This holiday season, go above and beyond by picking up handmade items with a story to tell at one of these Ontario holiday markets.

Art in the Summer

Celebrate creativity at art festivals across Ontario’s Highlands this summer.

3 Cheers for Mom

Discover ways to give a mom a Mother’s Day to remember, with gift ideas that go above and beyond.

Batter up!

Get a behind the scenes look into the world of baseball at Sam Bat.

Get Your Hands Dirty

Find out where to appease your creative side on this Creative Cruiser road trip.

The Creative Cruiser

I’m a Creative Cruiser. I wander with a desire to feed my curiosity, to follow my passions, and to grow from my discoveries.

Where Am I

Explore the sweet moments and ageless beauty of Perth, Ontario.

Hidden Gems

Seven charming museums in Ontario’s Highlands.

Where Am I?

Discover breathtaking beauty blasted from the Earth at Marmora Mine in Ontario’s Highlands.