Buying fresh, local food is a priority for many people, but it's not as easy as it sounds. Do you really know where your food comes from? Ask a few questions and you may just find the "local" food you're paying a premium for at your farmers' market or grocery store has traveled way farther than you'd like to think. It's no wonder we're all confused about where to get fresh and healthy food.
This past week, another microbial outbreak made the Canadian headlines. This time, the cause was a parasite with a name that sounds like a comic book supervillain, Cyclospora. It's officially known as a protozoan and in the last few months, caused 83 cases with a few requiring hospitalization. From a public health perspective, Cyclospora has for the most part spread under the radar of the media. Despite the apparent novelty of the infection right now, the parasite has been a common visitor to Canada and had made many visits in the last 20 years.
What we choose to eat is our most fundamental right. At least, it should be. What deeper connection do we have to our natural world than with the food that becomes part of our own flesh and bone? Farming, then, should be seen as one of the most valued and respected trades. Yet, government efforts to control our food supply is threatening food security and our freedom as a community.
My latest dining experience reminded me of something that is quintessentially Canadian. Partners Derek Valleau and Harsh Chawla of Pukka fame, team up with Chef Masayuki to open Concession Road, their latest addition to the Toronto restaurant scene. The trio are a tossed salad of cultures brought together for the love of good food and a desire to share it with others.
We've been at it for almost 10 years, and grow about 10 acres of vegetables every season. We're absurdly tiny compared to most conventional vegetable farms, but we don't plan to get any bigger, because we're doing just fine. Our farm is debt-free, profitable and employs both of us full-time. And we're far from alone.
If you look at Calgary and Edmonton, their skylines full of construction cranes, developers must do more than 'aim for height'. As the old adage goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day". Developers must be creative and work closely with architects to foster the development of robust communities that reflect cohesive design, and feature functional buildings that people want to live in.
There are far too many people, who are so far removed from what they eat that they don't understand what they are doing to their bodies. Our farming practices have become big business, and the little farms need to come back to the spotlight. It's not all doom and gloom, but we need a few tweaks on some things. Here are my big thoughts.
Farmers are committing suicide as you read this article. In countries like India, the rate of farmer suicides has become a national crisis. The World Health Organization (WHO) is particularly concerned with farmer suicides because of the impact it is having on families. WHO estimates that one person commits suicide every 13.3 minutes.
Oh Canada! While we may be known for some of our more decadent fare, like poutine and butter tarts, we are actually home to some of the world's greatest superfoods that can help keep up healthy all summer long! So even if this weekend may be more about BBQ and dockside beers, try including some of these healthy eats.
I avoid GMOs and those who promote and serve GMOs. There is no way that I knowingly want to put those ingredients into my body, my friends or family's bodies, and I certainly do not want to support Monsanto. I trace my food back to where it came from. This makes me feel good, and also makes me feel confident in all other principles I have listed as above.
I'm deeply disappointed by the news that Heinz is closing its Leamington processing plant. For over 100 years that plant made ketchup from tomatoes grown on Ontario farms. Support for local food processing is not only about securing jobs, it's also about investing in the economy we want. The Liberal government must take action to support our food processing sector.
At Savour Stratford this year, I was tasting different types of food from local chefs and producers and I noticed something. Each and every dish had its own unique flavour thanks to a homemade element. It was nice to know that I could pronounce all the ingredients going into my body and know where they came from.
I love farmer's markets. I love the atmosphere they create; all the produce and hand-made goods lined up on tables in wooded or cardboard baskets. Everyone attending can take in what real food looks, feels, and smells like (from our own backyards!). It reminds me of a simpler time when it was expected of us to grow and create the things we need for our daily lives.
Sustainable seasonal and regional cuisine is the focus, and this Ottawa restaurant's gardens provide the kitchen with the freshest of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. I recently nabbed a few moments of top chef Charlie Part's time to learn more about how he got started and what drives his pursuit of local excellence.