Eight ways to celebrate Food Day Canada

August snacks

Saturday, August 2, is Food Day Canada. The event was founded by Anita Stewart in 2003 to promote Canadian farmers, fishers and other food producers. Let’s celebrate by enjoying the diversity and quality of local and Canadian-grown food. Here are some ideas.

1. Do a Canadian dinner date

Go out for dinner at a restaurant featuring local fare. In Guelph and Wellington County, Farmalicious runs until early October, each week spotlighting an eatery with a featured local dish or full menu. It begins Food Canada day at Enver’s of Morriston offering a table d’hôte menu, $50 per person. Among the local items are quail eggs and honey from Chassagne. The Food Day Canada site can point the way to restaurants in other areas.

2. Visit a farmers’ market

Find friends and regional food at your farmers’ market. Tomorrow at Guelph Farmers’ Market we’ll look for local raspberries, cucumbers and Niagara apricots, maybe even peaches.

3. Preserve it

Throw a canning fest. It’s hard to maintain a local diet in Canada through the winter. We can improve the situation by freezing or preserving fruits and vegetables while they’re in season. Now is the time to buy local sweet corn and berries to freeze, cucumbers and other vegetables for pickling, and fruit for preserving jams, jellies and chutneys. The Danish Schnapps website has ideas for flavouring vodka with fruits and herbs, and brandy also works well.

4. Throw a party

Host a games day or barbecue and invite a few friends to share the bounty. It’s easy to assemble a plate of crudites from local vegetables like zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and snap peas with dips like hummus or guacamole. Include some Canadian artisan cheeses, smoked salmon or trout, and Ontario or other Canadian wines.

5. Grow your own

Make it even more local using produce from your own garden.

6. Forage

Now is the season when resourceful city foragers can find ripe mulberries and rosehips. Read my post about foraging for summer fruit on the Japan Farmers Markets blog. If you’re new to foraging, start by learning the ethics. Attend a workshop or talk to an expert in wildcrafting, like Guelph’s Scott Reid.

7. Try these summer harvest recipes

Here are some more ideas for ways to use those local vegetables:

  1. Try one of my midsummer harvest soups: tomato chicken soup Provençal, borage soup or gluten-free New England clam chowder.
  2. Vegetarian lasagna takes advantage of this season’s harvest.
  3. Have an abundance of summer sqaush? Mine are barely starting, but I can hardly wait. Check out my six great ways to use zucchini. My favourite is the slightly decadent basil margarita shrimp.
  4. Speaking of basil, here’s a recipe and some ideas for how to use basil pesto.

8. Tell others

Go to the Food Day Canada page on Facebook to share your ideas and experience of the day. The Food Day Canada website has more information about Canadian products, restaurants according to region and numerous recipe suggestions. Stop by here, too, and let us know. But most of all, enjoy eating.

 


Comments

Eight ways to celebrate Food Day Canada — 7 Comments

  1. Ooh, what about putting together a meal based on native foods? Really celebrate the flavours of the land.

    I don’t know much about Canadian native foods, but for a similar theme back home I’d slow-bake some wallaby with pepperberry, saltbush & kunzea (native herbs) served with purslane (native veg), rounded out by some local crops of international origin (like a nice Tassie pinot, mmm!). Or perhaps some local seafood with samphire, sea celergy & eklp salad and a cold local cider for summer. Gosh I miss the food back home (no foraging or wild foods in Lima, but there’s always guinea pig with huacatay & native root veggies…)

    • The butter tart is about as uniquely Canadian as food gets, but I’ve only made them once or twice. And Nanaimo bars, squares made on a crumb base layered with custard icing and covered with melted chocolate. These are both sweet snacks of which we are justifiably proud, but the terms meet blank stares south of the border. Poutine (essentially French fries with gravy, cheese curds and a few other things) originated in Quebec, but I’m not a fan. Beaver tails are a fried pasty found in Eastern Canada. A few other things are specifically, though not uniquely Canadian: maple syrup, wild blueberries and smoked salmon. Macaroni and cheese, bannock and pierogies are part of Canadian culture. Game was historically very important, but no longer part of our cultural identity (I’ve only tasted moose once, never elk, though the latter is now available from local farms). Montreal bagels are arguably the better than New York bagels. We have a lot of comfort foods in the cold north.

      • I’m not talking about dishes associated with a culture (that would be like eating a meat pie or pavlova: Australian dishes, but made with plants & animals that originally came from elsewhere). The idea I’m getting at is cooking with the plants and animals native to the area. Ecologically Canadian, not culturally Canadian. Poutine, nanaimo bars & beaver-tails are undeniably “Canadan”, but they are made using ingredients from plants and animals introduced from other lands. I think something with wild salmon & native herbs would be nice, and maybe a desert featuring Canadian berries & maple syrup.

        • Toni, sorry I misunderstood your first comment. I was distracted! That’s an excellent idea: formulating a meal based on native foods. You’re talking about decolonizing food, too, which is a completely different, significant topic. There’s a list of wild edible plants of Ontario, but quite a few are non-native. Here are a few of the most obvious selections, to my mind.

          Grain: there’s a species of wild rice native to the Great Lakes region.

          Vegetables: Stinging nettles, Jerusalem artichokes, wild leek, fiddleheads, cattail shoots and roots, and arrowhead roots. I’ve blogged and written about foraging for nettles, but have yet to try cattails or arrowheads.

          Mushrooms: I’ve blogged about foraging for oyster mushrooms, giant puffball, morel and comb tooth fungus, all delicious. There are lots of other great native mushrooms to try if we’re patient and careful.

          Meat/fish: Great Lakes salmon, trout, elk, venison, moose, other game such as duck, goose and wild turkey. I’m not keen on hunting. I think I’m happy with the rationale that domestic turkeys are bred from a native species, thus a native food. Domestic elk is not hard to find.

          Fruit: Lots of options here, blueberry, cranberry, wild currant, wild gooseberry, saskatoon, raspberry, strawberry, chokecherry

          Nuts: black walnut, chestnut, butternut

          Teas: I haven’t tried any of these, but good teas can apparently be made from the needles and leaves of several woody plants including white pine, balsam fir, eastern hemlock (the tree, not the herb, which is poisonous), and sweet gale.

          Miscellaneous: maple syrup, sumac, wintergreen

          • Don’t forget tea made from the leaves of wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa, I believe). 🙂 Tastes like Earl Grey, which is made from bergamot anyway.

          • Joe, thanks for that reminder. Monarda fistulosa is a sentimental favourite, because it was the first (and probably only) native plant I successfully grew from collected seed when I was a teenager. I had never seen the plant in flower before, and did not know what I had collected, so you can probably appreciate my delight when it bloomed the next summer and I realized I had a native sister of M. didyma, already growing in my herb garden! This spring I grew M. fistulosa from seed again (ordered from an herb seed company) for the first time in about 35 years. I grew it in a pot so it could come with us when we move. It’s doing nicely, but I don’t know whether it will accept wintering indoors.

  2. Guelph line at 401 hosts the Chophouse at Mohawk inn… A great Halton restaurant that serves local fare… Faves include the farmers platter, pulled pork flatbread and of course their steaks! A&w mm the bacon is awesome!

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