By Grace Evans
What a lucky student I was to unknowingly walk into a classroom with Margaret Webb as my writing instructor. Last September I hastily enrolled in a freelance journalism class at Ryerson. Upon my discovery that my new teacher Margaret writes about food and farming in Canada, I felt a flush of intimidation spread through my consciousness. Were she a fashion writer or a sports reporter, I would have completed the class with the intention to shape a career for myself similar to theirs, with an entirely different emphasis. I wouldn’t compare their close analysis of a final game or forecasted handbag trend to what I hoped to write. With Margaret, I felt total intimidation at the remarkable career she has built for herself writing about food and farming issues pertinent to Canadians. Not only has she penned pleasurable gastro-features, but she has also published pieces that dig deep into North America’s broken food system and that highlight the utmost importance in preserving cultural food heritage.
Eventually that intimidation gave way to admiration, and as I thumb my way through a brand new copy of Apples to Oysters: A Food Lover’s Tour of Canadian Farms, I can only urge you to do the same. It won a silver in the Cuisine Canada National Culinary Book Awards and made the short-list for an Evergreen award.
There is an excerpt from Apples to Oysters available for you to read. It is featuring Johnny Flynn, a farmer from Collville Bay. His oysters star in the finest oyster bars across the country. Margaret became intrigued with Mr. Flynn after reluctantly developing a discerning appreciation for oysters at Toronto oyster bars. His Collville Bays are lusted after in seafood circles, and though demand is high, Johnny does not increase production to provide more oysters. Margaret and her partner Nancy journeyed to Prince Edward Island to learn more about the mysterious man whose harvest is spoken about longingly in restaurants. You can read this excerpt online, and I highly recommend that you do. But be warned, Margaret’s prose will leave you with a hunger in your belly.
Margaret Webb is an accomplished writer, screenwriter, journalist, editor and university instructor based in Toronto. Her writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Toronto Life, More Magazine, Canadian Geographic and Chatelaine. She also penned an eight-part series, “Crisis on the Farm,” for the Toronto Star.