Grocery Shopping on Fogo Island

10 Aug

I’m back for two weeks on Fogo Island, in Newfoundland, to work on my book project about local food. I was eager to do some grocery shopping on arrival…

Winston and Val

Winston Osmond is an acrylics painter and organic farmer living in Shoal Bay. He took me round his veggie garden, showed me what was ready and harvested a mixed bag. I left with rain-splashed kale; fat, yellow zucchini; squeaky onions; regular and cinnamon basil; and sweet, soily carrots–some of them as leggy as squid.

I spotted mussel shells in the beds. High in calcium, nitrogen and phosphorous, they’re great for enriching the soil. Locals also use kelp and little silver fish called capelin to fertilize their gardens, which is why the veggies here are so packed with flavour. The salty sea air helps too.


Judging by the meticulously cleaned out claws in the coop, Winston’s birds have a thing for lobster.


I’m hoping their high-class tastes come through in my eggs.


Back at the house, Winston’s wife, Linda, was pickling the 200 cucumbers they harvested that day. The couple both love canning, and they sell their preserves at Herring Cove Art Gallery (alongside Linda’s quilts and Winston’s paintings and woodwork).

They hand-label their wares, so you know if you’re buying Linda’s Strawberry or Winston’s Partridgeberry jam. I bought a jar from each spouse–I don’t want to encourage Winston’s competitive streak. I also bought some unsigned dill-pickled quails eggs, which I’ll be eating straight from the jar as soon as this blog post is up.

I wanted to buy these guys, mainly to take home and tie red ribbons round their neck, but I fear that Winston has other plans for their future. They seem superhappy for now, in any case, hanging out with their mom in their spacious pen.


I love shopping at Winston’s place, but that’s not to say I don’t set foot in a supermarket when I’m on Fogo Island. Some things just don’t grow on bushes.

Jam Jams

I can’t wait to get started on another round of research here: gathering stories, recipes and images from islanders, who have been extremely generous so far in talking with me and letting me sample all kinds of local goodies. Check back in each day for new posts from Fogo Island or subscribe on the home page!

2 Responses to “Grocery Shopping on Fogo Island”

  1. Pat Anderson August 11th, 2014 at 10:58 PM #

    Wonderful – thanks for taking us along to the Osmonds’ place. I love the photo of the hens eggs. What beautiful colours!

    • Valerie Howes August 12th, 2014 at 9:34 PM #

      I’ve been eating them for breakfast, and I like to have one from the beige family and one from the blue family side-by-side!

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