when a company bears the name ‘Wild Mother Provisions’, you simply know that something different, something exciting, something special is on the go. Wild Mother Provisions is a company that makes Newfoundland beer vinegar, among other things. Janet Harron is the wild mother.
this is how it came to be. in September 2007 Janet Harron and her husband Liam moved from Toronto to St. Johns. Liam was to be the brewmaster for the then-fledgling Yellowbelly Brewery. as a lifelong analphylactic with a deadly allergy to peanuts and a growing interest in heritage foods, Janet started making “foods recognizable to your great-great-grandparents” – foods like granola and oat cakes – and sold them under the ‘Flour of Scotland’ label at the St. John’s Farmer’s Market. she appreciated how this act of creation connected her to previous generations. Janet is very enthusiastic about the history of food because, as she says: “one of the few things we can control in life is what we put in our mouths.”
one day at the brewery, Liam captured airborne wild yeast in a quest to create beer vinegar. beer was fed to the ‘wild mother’ to keep it alive. beer vinegar is an almost-forgotten heritage food that was known as alegar (sour beer) for centuries. vinegar was an important element in the survival of early Newfoundlanders, who cultivated vinegar “plants” similar to Janet’s wild mother for culinary and medical purposes. Newfoundland Beer Vinegar is now available in over 25 retailers across the island and on the mainland.
the name change to ‘Wild Mother’ was inspired not only by the wild yeast but also the role of mothers and women in feeding the community. Janet believes that cooking our own food, growing our own food and learning about food can increase food sustainability in the province.
as a ‘feminist food company’, Wild Mother Provisions is intentional about supporting local social enterprises - for instance their labels are made by The Hub printing service. Wild Mother also makes a point in supporting feminist organizations such as Planned Parenthood and Persistence Theatre Company.
Newfoundland Beer Vinegar is a mainstay for Wild Mother, but there are more good old things coming along. keep an eye out for ‘Newfoundland Switchel’ - a vinegar-based drink also known as 16th century gatorade. and when you see the oatcakes - buy 'em. they are fabulous.
check out our Facebook Live at the St. John's Farmers' Market featuring Wild Mother Provisions.