One of the best things about being a food lover living in Canada – and one of the easiest things about blogging about food in Canada – is that there’s just so much great stuff to enjoy within our borders. The fresh fish and seafood, variety of produce, grains, meats and dairy we have is truly unbelievable. And with such easy access to all these great food products in communities across the country, it’s no wonder that Canadian chefs and home cooks alike are so innovative. But with all this around us, it’s easy to take it for granted.
Food Day, which is this Saturday, July 31, is aimed at making sure Canadians recognize our bounty. Food Day was started in 2003 by Canadian food writer and educator Anita Stewart, with an event – The World’s Longest BBQ – designed to help the country bounce back from the sanctions that were then in place on Canadian beef. The spirit of that first BBQ has carried through annual Food Day celebrations over the past eight years, with more and more people marking the day by holding their own backyard grill fests. Stories posted by Canadians to the Food Day website over the years demonstrate how people have embraced the celebration.
This year, Food Day is being expanded even further, as restaurants and food suppliers across the country are joining forces to offer special menus celebrating Canadian food. The Food Day website has a listing of the more than 130 restaurants participating across Canada, and some of the menus posted look incredible. Have a look and consider checking out a participating restaurant in your community if you don’t feel like firing up the grill at home.
I grew up surrounded by a tradition of, and passion for, great food. The Italian side of my family made me appreciate fresh ingredients and simple preparations, while my amateur gourmet chef mother taught me that food can be cooked and presented in so many incredible ways. But it was the five years I spent living in Manitoba in my 20s that really gave me an understanding of the complexity of food beyond what appears on my plate. As a trade magazine editor working in the Prairies, I spent those years covering agriculture issues. I had the chance to speak to farmers, manufacturers, food marketers and government officials about the challenges and triumphs associated with being part of the food chain. I was founding editor of Canadian Potato Business, a magazine aimed at providing important information to producers of Canada’s most important field crop. As much as that tends to be a point of amusement in conversations today, it was a great experience and opportunity to learn about issues my born-and-raised-in-the-Greater-Toronto-area mind hadn’t previously thought of. And the fact that the magazine continues to thrive today (albeit under a different name and written by people with better understanding of farm issues than me) makes me proud.
I won’t be in Toronto on Food Day to take advantage of the great menus from this city’s participating restaurants. But whether or not I’m eating at a Food Day partner resto on July 31, I’ll be sure to spare a thought to all the people who dedicate their lives to bringing us amazing food products.
How will you celebrate Food Day?