In May 2015, the French government did something incredible: the National Assembly unanimously passed a law forcing large supermarkets to donate unsold food to charities. That's how the #WhatAWaste campaign -- a grassroots effort to pressure Canada's political leaders to follow France's example -- was born.
With the arrival of summer, many Canadians are embracing fresh, seasonal, local foods, but for families with picky eaters, it can be difficult to break away from routine shops. I've talked to a lot of families who find themselves stuck in these doldrums and are craving a change, but struggle to introduce new foods into their repertoire.
Next week is Local Food Week in Ontario, a celebration of the rich agricultural bounty we're so lucky to have access to in this province. The local food movement has been all the rage for the past few years, and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Grocery stores highlight local produce when it's in season, innumerable "farm to table" restaurants have popped up, and farmers markets continue to grow in popularity.
What were once staples of daily living in our communities -- butchers, bakers, fishmongers, and greengrocers -- are now seen as inefficient when large chain grocery stores deliver all-in-one convenience. But "fast and convenient" has weakened our communities. As the African proverb says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
Fifteen years ago, Twesigye Jackson Kaguri, a native Ugandan, was living the American dream -- until his brother, and then his sister, died of HIV/AIDS. Coming face to face with the scale of Uganda's HIV/AIDS pandemic, Kaguri took the $5000 he had saved for a down payment on his own home and built Nyaka Primary School.
Over the past few years, the terms 'organic' and 'sustainable' have become buzzwords for health. But these words go beyond a person's health. Supporting local organic food and farming can help revitalize the economy. Community-based agriculture has the potential to create jobs and develop small businesses. Encouraging locals to stay healthy is the side job.
Opt for a few aces up your sleeves this Valentine's Day. To add some context to this statement, I reference a timeless adage: "The way to someone's heart is through their stomach." There's no denying the truth in those words. Attaining culinary success in spades can guarantee you affection in return.
With farm-to-table goods, I find the taste is cleaner, richer and I always feel more energized. That's partly because I don't need to eat as much to feel full. I'm getting more for every mouthful. That's because our bodies crave nutrition from what they're taking in. If our food is low in nutrients, it can often leave us feeling hungry for more. Like something vital is missing.
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.