Local Food News — Ontario

New Food Truck Rolls Onto U of G Campus

Something’s cooking on four wheels at U of G, and it’s rolling to a campus location near you. Sporting a flaming exterior and a “GryphN’” wielding kitchen utensils, Gryph N’ Grille is U of G’s new food truck. Operated by Hospitality Services, the food truck has been well received, says Ed Townsley, assistant director, Food and Retail Services. Featuring a menu of locally-sourced food prepared fresh on the truck, Gryph N’ Grille made its first appearance Sept. 14 in front of Creelman Hall. That’s also when public health inspector Kelly Briscoe gave her seal of approval. Since then, the food truck has served about 350 customers per day, says Townsley. University of Guelph post.



Pigstock is a unique day of learning for the culinary industry followed by an intimate consumer dinner. It celebrates the mangalitsa pig, a unique heritage breed that grows a thick woolly coat similar to that of a sheep. This furry little creature is celebrated the world over for it’s juicy, strong flavour. Come learn from local farmers raising heritage breeds, including Perth Pork and Sonrisa Farms, hear from award winning butchers from near and far, participate in charcuterie demonstrations and of course, dig into some seriously delicious mangalitsa eats. Workshops will be taught by Christoph & Isabel Wiesner, Austrian Mangalitza breeders and seam butchery experts. Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance post.


Facilitating Urban Agriculture with ‘Tactical’ Policy Changes

These efforts are part of a broader local food strategy supported by several City staff that is being spearheaded by the City’s Public Health Department. For example, we found that some of our land use policies created barriers to setting up farmer’s markets. So we changed them. We amended the Urban Hamilton Official Plan and the seven zoning-by-laws to permit urban farmers markets in many more places across the city, such as the parking lots of community centres and places of worship. We also made some changes to the sign by-law to make sure that farmers markets can advertise themselves appropriately. Raise the Hammer story.


The (health promoting qualities of the) colour purple

For 28 years, Shelley and Tony Spruit have grown wheat, soybeans and corn — mainly for animal feed and ethanol — making their Winchester-area farm typical of those in Eastern Ontario. Two years ago, they decided to start going against the grain. They bought an additional 50 acres to dedicate to heritage and non-genetically-modified crops for food. They now grow some astounding and colourful things: glossy dark purple corn that dates back centuries in Peru; graceful hull-less barley developed in Canada; stunning Ethiopian purple barley; beautiful blue Utrecht wheat; mammoth Russian sunflowers with golden heads as big as beachballs. Ottawa Citizen story.


The hub of an opportunity

Food hubs are moving north, making it easier for medium-size farms to break into ‘local’ sales without all the marketing. Trissia Mellor is on a mission to boost the sustainability of farmers and small businesses in eastern Ontario. In Northumberland County’s economic development and tourism department, she’s the energetic agriculture manager, and she’s also heavily involved in getting the new Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre (OAFVC) up and running. The venture centre is one of a growing number of regional food hubs in Canada that is using consumers’ appetite for local food to benefit local farmers, small businesses and rural communities. Country Guide story.


#FeastOn Nights

This fall, Feast ON-certified restaurants across Ontario will be offering unique dining experiences designed to highlight Ontario food and drink. Participating restaurants throughout the province will create special dining experiences that showcase Ontario beef and cow’s milk cheese, produced by the Beef Farmers of Ontario and Dairy Farmers of Canada, and powered by Pass The Table. Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance press release.


Jamie Kennedy brings his passion for local food to Bracebridge

“One of the basic premises of the slow food movement is that communities around the world should produce their own food within their own little food economy and not rely on international trade or industrial food production in order to feed the people,” explains Kennedy, whose commitment to sustainable agriculture and advocacy of local food has been unwavering and nationally recognized. MuskokaRegion.com post.


Thunder Bay senior home residents soon to eat more local food

An area farmer says a program to bring locally grown food to three city-run seniors’ homes in Thunder Bay is good for business. Kevin Belluz says the recent agreement to supply beets, onions, cabbage and carrots to the homes year-round means his operation is getting busier. Belluz said he has had to hire three more people to help meet the demand. CBC News Thunder Bay story.


Community challenge looks for fresh ideas to improve food security

This year’s strategic grant will fund an initiative that will tangibly strengthen the relationship between local food systems and food security, contributing to the longer-term development and resilience of local food systems. “With this second New Leaf grant, the Community Foundation will have invested a quarter-million dollars into tackling issues around food security in our city through this program alone,” said Marco Pagani, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Ottawa. “By so doing, we’re signalling our serious commitment to working with the community to find real and lasting solutions to this critical problem in our city.” Ottawa Community News story.


Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference registration now open

Registration is now open for the fifth annual Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference hosted by the Cities of Belleville and Quinte West, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. This year’s conference theme is “Creativity + Collaboration = Action” and will focus on innovative businesses and organizations that realize the value of collaboration to help pave the way to success. Participants will have the opportunity to tour local food sites, collaborate with local food stakeholders, and be inspired by speakers and network with peers and industry experts. Eastern Ontario AgriNews story.




Examining the ‘Fresh Not Fake’ Trend

The current trend many manufacturers face is the “fresh not fake” trend. This can be a more complex consumer need to address than removing or adding an ingredient, especially when companies are in the business of manufacturing foods that maintain stringent quality standards within complex and national distribution channels. The definition of fresh may not even be clear to consumers or manufacturers (similar to many terms used in the health and wellness space). However, it appears to be contributing to the noticeable decline in sales for categories including breakfast cereals and frozen meals. In the morning meal occasion for instance, consumers are increasingly seeking higher protein offerings – benefits delivered by eggs and Greek yogurt more so than ready-to-eat cereal. Similarly, consumer perceptions of frozen foods as highly processed products full of sodium and preservatives likely contributed to the decline of frozen meal sales. Ipsos Ideas research.

Local Food News — Canada

Despite What You’ve Heard, Small Farmers are Doing Just Fine

You could be forgiven for thinking that the shine has come off the small farm movement in the recent past. Wait a minute. Not so fast. My wife Gillian and I run The New Farm, a small-scale organic farm near the village of Creemore, about an hour and a half north-west of Toronto. 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. Huffington Post article.


Backyard plastic bubble in Surrey is Canada’s first biodome

The 3,000-square-foot plastic bubble in Tom Colclough’s Surrey yard is packed with 6,000 strawberry plants that require no soil and use one-tenth the water of conventional farming. Canada’s first agricultural “biodome” is made from air-tight layers of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), a plastic film that weighs 99-per-cent less than glass and naturally disperses light within the dome, creating an ideal environment for vertical hydroponic growing systems, said designer Colclough. The prototype biodome — built for the Canadian subsidiary of Eco Energy Asia — is loosely based on the concepts pioneered by the Eden Project, a complex of biodomes in Cornwall, U.K. Vancouver Sun story.


Winnipeg hotel wants bees on roof, beekeeping bylaws relaxed

The Fort Garry Hotel is pressing the City of Winnipeg to change a bylaw that would let it house five bee hives on its rooftop this summer. The hotel said it wants to bring more locally sourced honey to the Winnipeg market. “They can use the honey for their restaurants, for their guests,” said James Patterson, a hobby beekeeper who hopes to set up and monitor five hives which would sit on the building’s roof at 222 Broadway. “It allows them to create a program that engages their public. There’s an added benefit to their guests, as well as creating a positive public image.” CBC News Manitoba story.


Dawn Johnston, Lisa Stowe and the Communal Table Project

Dawn and Lisa became known as the food ladies on campus as their annual course grew in popularity and evolved. “It changed focus,” Lisa said. “It started as really pleasure-oriented, but the students really wanted to talk about politics. They wanted to talk about organics, local — everything we were trying to avoid. So we realized we better put a few sessions in about globalization, and address the BSE crisis that was going on at the time. We ended up reshaping the course to have kind of an equal focus on pleasure and the politics of food.” CBC News Calgary story.


The lure of fresh food, flowers, ideas and more at the Sackville Farmers’ Market

According to a Business Development Bank of Canada survey conducted in 2013, 72 per cent of Atlantic Canadians said they make it a point to buy locally made products. A whopping 97 per cent said they did so to help the local economy and 96 per cent did it for a local farmer. A national study conducted on behalf of the National Farmers’ Market and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada released in 20009 reported that 92 per cent of shoppers said that buying directly from a farmer is important to them. That landmark study further stated the impact of famers’ markets on the Canadian economy was reported to be over $3 billion. Sackville Tribune Post story.


Failure of food security bill disappointing, farmers say

New Brunswick farmers say they’re disappointed Green Party Leader David Coon’s proposed Local Food Security Act was voted down in the legislature on Thursday. The bill would have required the provincial government to give preference to local food providers when supplying nursing homes, schools and hospitals. Several farmers left their fields to go to Fredericton to show their support for the bill, including Ted Wiggans, New Brunswick president for the National Farmers Union (NFU). CBC New Brunswick story.


Eat, drink, be merry in Montreal: City has thousands of options for foodies

The food scene in Montreal is more than just poutine, smoked meat and bagels — though those are all amazing, too. Or, if you want to embrace the local food movement, head to Restaurant L’Orignal in Old Montreal. This “chalet chic” food spot takes the best in locally sourced meats and seafood and raises it to the gourmand level with unique plating and even better flavour combinations. The venison tartare with mushrooms and seafood Caesar topped with home-pickled green beans and Maine oysters are two standouts. St. Catharines Standard story.


Soil Mate Wins Big in BC

Soil Mate’s premise is simple. It is about understanding the origin and values of the food and drink you feed yourself and your family. Soil Mate is a fully mobile optimized website that allows consumers to see all the great local products within a 100 mile radius of them, from great local produce, grains, and meats to some of the world’s top wines and beers. They can see how it’s grown, raised, and produced, when it’s available, and where they can buy it. The site even has a trip builder (named ‘My Route’) where you can build driving, cycling or walking trips to any locations in the system that are open to the public. Soil Mate launched with just farms, farmers’ markets and wineries but has now expanded to include craft breweries, cideries, distilleries, associations, and local sourcing restaurants and stores. Wire Service Canada press release.


Healthy Agriculture For A Healthy World, 20th International Farm Management Congress, July 12-17

The International Farm Management Congress takes place every two years in host countries around the world. The objective of the Congress is to further the knowledge and understanding of farm business management and to exchange ideas and information about farm management theory and practice throughout the world. For this edition of the International Farm Management Congress, we have chosen a theme that is fundamentally important to the entire world: Healthy Agriculture for a Healthy World. With an increasing world population, an agricultural sector that is in good financial health, economically viable, environmentally sustainable and capable of supplying the necessary components for a healthy diet, will be crucial for our future. Website.


Food trends highlighted at Grocery and Specialty Food West tradeshow

As grocers gathered to talk food trends in downtown Vancouver this week, one trend was clear: shoppers want local, special and healthy. Chapman was among a panel of speakers at Grocery and Specialty Food West, held earlier this week at the Vancouver Convention Centre. It’s Canada’s largest specialty food trade show. Food trends include the move in the marketplace from big box shops to smaller specialty stores, notably supporting local businesses and demanding healthier choices. Chapman said consumers want to know where the food is coming from. There’s an awareness and demand for “locally grown and locally sown.” Vancouver Courier story.




Taking stock of food fables

On its labels and in its advertising, including its web site, Vitaminwater is classified as a “nutrient enhanced water beverage,” by Glacéau, the Coca Cola subsidiary that produces the popular drink. This description and other parts of its advertising resulted in class action lawsuits in the United States and Canada, accusing the company of deceptive marketing. At least one of the U.S. lawsuits was settled out-of-court last year by Coca Cola. In Canada though, potential class action proceedings in Quebec and British Columbia, were not certified. Canadian Lawyer Magazine story.

Local Food News — Ontario

Grey to Green Conference, Toronto, June 1-2, 2015

Join leaders in the fields of urban design, green infrastructure, and sustainable agriculture for the Grey to Green Conference in Toronto on June 1st and 2nd, 2015. Presentations, tours and training sessions explore new developments in urban agriculture and green infrastructure that are enabling leading designers and practitioners to integrate food production into the built environment. •Explore detailed case studies of North America’s leading rooftop farming projects including Brooklyn Grange and the new 17,000 square foot Whole Foods project in Lynnfield, MA. Website.


Are we heading for another farm financial crisis? May 26

A free mini-conference (half-day) is being held in Guelph at One Stone Road on May 26, entitled “Are we heading for another farm financial crisis?” It looks to me like it has superb story potential. The conference is sponsored by the Institute for the Advanced Study of Food and Agricultural Policy in the Department of Food, Agricultural, and Resource Economics at the University of Guelph. Registration is required. Website.


Cut Down Your Grocery Bill: Foraging in the Waterloo Region

In a 2 year-long ethnographic study in Seattle, researchers found several social benefits of foraging such as, “…building community, engaging in spiritual practices, connecting with nature, supporting stewardship, having fun and recreating”[2]. A main finding was the bond foragers form with each other and the local land. By fostering a community of practice, foragers feel a sense of togetherness and pride. At the same time, foragers develop a deep understanding of natural cycles and ecosystems. Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable blog.


Create a healthy food environment at Cobourg Community Centre

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit congratulates the Town of Cobourg for seeking public input into the types of food and snacks that people would like to see served at the Cobourg Community Centre. The CCC is a state-of-the-art facility that is the envy of many other communities. To help build on that success, the health unit would encourage the Town to ensure healthy, local food choices continue to be made available to visitors through the canteen. Northumberland News letter to the editor.


2015 Official VQA Wines of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly

The Grape Growers of Ontario, with the Honourable Speaker of the Legislature, Dave Levac of Brant County, hosted the 36th Annual Wine Tasting event at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, November 4. Bill George, Chair of the Grape Growers of Ontario, along with Debbie Zimmerman, CEO, are pleased to announce that the following have been chosen as the official wines of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly for 2015: Red Wine: Burning Kiln Winery 2013 Strip Room, White Wine:  Fielding Estate Winery 2013 Pinot Grigio. “This event to select the official VQA wines continues to grow in popularity and the Grape Growers of Ontario are pleased to have so many Members of Provincial Parliament attend the 36th Annual Legislative Wine Tasting,” says Bill George, Chair. Grape Growers of Ontario post.


Craft Beer Festival drawing strong interest

The first locally organized craft beer festival in Thunder Bay is set to take place from Aug. 14-15 at Prince Arthur’s Landing. And with roughly 50 different brews available to sample from across Ontario, organizers of BrewHa say the local response has so far been outstanding. “We knew it was going to be a hit,” said Jon Hendel and Kerry Berlinquette, the two people planning the festival. “Craft beer is such a significant movement going across Canada right now and there is a gap in this community.” Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal story.


Experts Find Family Farm Strength in Land Ownership Study

Magnan says it will be interesting to see what happens to provincial farmland ownership in the future. “What are the implications of a large scale change of ownership over the next 10, 20 or 30 years? We are talking about a valuable and important resource. For the last 100 years or so, the model has been the family that lives and works on the land, owns that land for the most part.” Magnan says the study demonstrates strength in the family farm, with some examples of large corporate entities being unsuccessful. FCC Express story.


St. Lawrence College, Sustainable Local Food Certificate

Field to Fork: Introduction to Local and Global Food Systems, Understanding Sustainable Farming: Principles and Practices, Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens, Food Security and Food Justice in Canada, Between Farm and Table: Local Food Businesses and Co-ops, Food Policy and Trends. Course Schedule 2015-2016.


Online Certificate in Food Security, Starting May 4, 2015

The certificate explores the challenges of creating sustainable food systems based on social justice and democratic decision-making that will ensure the right of dignified access to healthy food. The program’s perspective on food security is local and global covering both rural and urban situations. Participants will learn how to strengthen the sustainability of city food systems through the development of innovative urban agriculture policy and practices.  They will also learn the challenges facing rural farming communities worldwide and explore the possibilities for supporting farming livelihoods and rebuilding local food systems for the public good. Ryerson University post.


Supporting Environmental Stewardship and Livelihood Benefits in Ontario’s Greenbelt: Assessing the Potential Contribution of the Alternative Land Use Services Program

This research study assesses the potential of the Alternative Land Use Services Program (ALUS) as a tool for promoting agricultural viability and associated land stewardship in Ontario’s Greenbelt. An Alternative Land Use Services program would pay farmers for the provision of environmental services in the public interest. Using a qualitative methodological approach based on a literature review, a review of government and non-government organization documents and interviews with key stakeholders, this study compares the potential contribution of the ALUS program with that of other reasonable alternatives currently available to promote farmland protection and farm stewardship. Thesis.




Celebrity chef Jamie Kennedy talks ‘field-to-fork’ at Durham College

  1. The field-to-fork philosophy is very popular right now, but you were one of the first chefs to pioneer the idea. How did you become a proponent of local food?
  2. I started off as a young cook always thinking of food as an expression of art, and as an artist you’re always looking for genuine experiences, things have to resonate on a deeper level. The more I learned about food, and the trade of cook, and the status quo in terms of supply, the more I realized there was not a lot we were getting from the local market…it seemed strange to me. I grew up as a kid in Toronto having food memories that were always in the context of something we anticipated each year. Asparagus in the spring, strawberries in the summer, it was a celebration when something came in season. When I was training as a cook that anticipation and celebration of seasonal bounty was not there. The luxury of fine dining was that you could have asparagus in December and strawberries all year round. But, they were terrible except when they were in season. So, about 10 years in, I decided to really turn my attention to supporting local food procurement. Durham Region post.

Local Food News — Canada

Small farmers in Canada are ‘a dying breed,’ but what does that mean for our food supply?

The plight of the family farmer — about half of whom require a second job to make ends meet — caught the eye of Canadian filmmaker Ari A. Cohen, who made the documentary to tell the story of everyday life on a small farm in Canada. The film is is both beautifully shot and soberingly relevant. The Family Farm airs on the Documentary Channel on Nov. 18 at 9 p.m. National Post film review.

Hard journey to food security in Nova Scotia, five-year study finds

Results of the study, led by Mount Saint Vincent University’s Food Action Research Centre and the Nova Scotia Food Security Network, were released Thursday in Halifax. “We wanted to learn more about community food security in this province because it is connected to our health, to our well-being, the vitality of our communities and the quality of our life, ” said Patricia Williams, director of the research centre and professor of applied human nutrition at the university. Recommendations include more co-ordinated efforts to ensure people have adequate incomes, creating conditions that support healthy and sustainable food systems, and building successful community supports and resources. The Chronicle Herald story.

Real Food Connections seeks local investors to expand

Real Food Connections is moving closer to hitting an investment goal that willallow the Fredericton-based business to expand into Saint John and create a local food distribution network in the province. Real Food Connections is trying to raise between $220,000 and $290,000 through local investors by using the Small Business Investor Tax Credit program. But the business has run into a series of barriers, mainly because of red tape associated with signing up investors. Levi Lawrence, the store’s owner, said the process, in order to get investments of between $1,000 to $2,000, has become “a real mess.” CBC News (New Brunswick) story.

Farm to Cafeteria: Canada Digs In!

I am pleased to present the first issue of Farm to Cafeteria: Canada Digs In! This quarterly newsletter aims to provide those keen on getting more local, healthy and sustainable foods into Canada’s public institutions with timely highlights of programs, policy, evaluation and events across the nation. Our promise is to keep our newsletters brief! You will find no more than 3-5 key national announcements per issue. Newsletter.

Can homegrown food win the climate change war?

When U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared that planting a garden would win the war during the First World War, Victory Gardens became both part of the economic and psychological landscape of North America in ways that would be considered revolutionary today. In these instances it was connected to clear political and social implications that both encouraged everyday citizens to do their part that, together, had profound collective consequences for the war effort. Doing so managed to connect the personal sphere and troubles of the war to the social and political goals of the national and international cause. Why is this important? Because today, we face a similar task of epic proportions: climate change. And gardening might be one the best and brightest ways that we can both individually and collectively face this challenge, particularly in developed countries. Global News story.


Family farm stakes future on edamame

Edamame? If you’ve been to a sushi bar, you know it. It’s a type of immature soybean, still in the pod. Usually steamed before eating, it can be found in every Japanese and most other Asian  restaurants in Canada, as well as health food stores and major supermarkets. Just 1 per cent of the edamame consumed in Canada is grown here, says Mr. MacKellar. The rest is from China. That means working with a crop that, in Ontario at least, is unconventional, and working without a rulebook. Globe and Mail story.

Seed Facilitation Fund

The goal of the Seed Facilitation Fund is to help build a diverse and resilient seed system by strengthening the capacity of ecological vegetable seed and field crop producers. The Fund provides financial support to organizations and individuals who share the values and goals of our program. Applicants may submit proposals for a maximum of $8,000per project. In total, approximately $200,000 will be allocated across the country in 2015. Nourishing Communities blog.

Seed bank sprouts at Dalhousie’s agriculture campus in Bible Hill

A seed of survival was planted at Dalhousie University’s agriculture campus on Monday. “Up to 10,000 plant species or maybe more are at risk of extinction,” said Stephanie Hughes, regional co-ordinator for the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. That said, Hughes and partners Dalhousie, USC Canada and Seeds of Diversity Canada announced the first regional seed bank in Atlantic Canada, to be housed at the university’s plant and animal science department. The bank is intended to help farmers create a stronger local food system, while focusing on high-quality, diverse, local seed that has agronomic, historical and cultural importance to the region. The Chronicle Herald story.

Kids Dig It at Common Roots Urban Farm

The garden is a community project, inspired and designed by children and their families that frequent the farm. The initiative began with a sponsorship from Clean NS (Celebrating 25 Years grant) to host design workshops, led by Rhea Dawn Landscaping. These took the form of community conversations with volunteers, parents and youth to understand what farming families would like to see in a garden dedicated to kids; how would they want to engage in a garden of play and curiosity? These conversations were then transformed into design data, resulting in a clay model (again, created by kids!) to guide the building process. Key elements of design include a log sandbox, hiding and sitting corners, places for guardians and parents to perch, tunnels and teepees, and a nursery of native plants. Adventures in Local Food blog.

Chef Jamie Kennedy discusses Canadian local food movement

These days, farmers markets are popping up in every park, and it’s not hard to find a restaurant serving heirloom carrots or grass-fed beef from just down the road. But in the 1970s, the farm-to-table idea was far from fashionable. Chef Jamie Kennedy helped change that by championing the local food philosophy for decades. He traces that evolution in his new cookbook, called J.K., The Jamie Kennedy Cookbook. CBC News tweet.


Dalhousie Urban Garden Programming Officer

The Dalhousie Urban Garden Society (DUGS) is pleased to announce that we will be hiring one part-time staff member for the campus urban garden. The staff position will provide support on various fronts for the DUGS executive team as they transition into the 2015 gardening season. Hiring will be completed in January 2015. FoodWork.ca job posting.