T'Sou-ke band will grow wasabi in greenhouses in Sooke.

The T’Sou-ke wasabi project

Sooke First Nation band plans on growing wasabi in greenhouses

  • May. 21, 2014 5:00 p.m.

Did you know that wasabi sold in grocery stores and served in restaurants outside of Japan is not wasabi at all? It is horseradish with food colouring (and maybe a little mustard).

I happen to love horseradish (try tossing a large spoonful into your next batch of coleslaw) and always have some on hand. But I have also had and enjoyed what I thought was real wasabi, a Japanese condiment that generally accompanies sushi, sashimi and other dishes. I associate the ‘wasabi’ I’ve eaten with a somewhat different taste from that of horseradish, but nearly always with a vaguely similar, if more potent, kick. After all, wasabi is usually referred to as Japanese horseradish. To learn now that I’ve been both duped and shortchanged all these years has come as a huge disappointment.

So what’s the deal here, anyway? What is real wasabi? What, if anything, is so special about it? Who grows it? Who sells it? Who buys it? Why is the market for wasabi just about to expand enormously? And, of course, why are consumers like me getting only faux wasabi, and will an expanding market change anything in this regard?

At this month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club, Andrew Moore will address all of these questions as he takes members on a journey, one that T’Sou-ke took to get to the point of growing half an acre of wasabi.

Andrew Moore is an architect who specializes in community development. He has worked extensively in the UK, Africa and Canada, and has facilitated numerous food security groups up and down the Island with visioning, strategic planning and implementation. Moore’s work revolves around sustainability projects related to housing, renewable energy, food security, traditional knowledge, and economic self-sufficiency. His story of the journey taken by T’Sou-ke Nation, where he has worked for the past eight years to help transform a collective vision into reality, will touch on all of these aspects.

Please join us on Wednesday, May 28, 7 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church on Townsend Road. New members welcome. Annual fee: $15. For more information, email sookegardenclub@yahoo.ca, or phone Rose at 250-642-5509. The evening will also feature a parlour show (exhibits should arrive at 6:30) and an outdoor plant sale.

Submitted by Loretta Fritz

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