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Local Goes Global in Ontario’s Greenbelt

Posted by Greg Clow in SOLE food, event reviews, events, farm to table on

October 12, 2009

As the promotion and enjoyment of local food has become more and more prevalent, one criticism often levelled against the movement has been that an emphasis on locally grown produce doesn't take into account the diets and culture of the many ethnic communities that make up such a large part of the population of the GTA. On the surface, this can be considered a valid argument, as much of the produce grown in Ontario and sold at farmers markets consists of foods typical of the North American diet. And as anyone who regularly shops at farmers markets can attest, it's rare to see new immigrants on hand to buy fresh produce from local growers. More likely, they'll be found in ethnic neighbourhoods like Chinatown and Little India where there are grocery stores specializing in imported produce from their home countries.

We grow a lot more than just potatoes and carrots in Ontario, though. In fact, ethnic favourites from okra and bok choy to molokhia and calaloo are all grown in Ontario's Greenbelt, the 1.8 million acre region of farmland, forests and green space that wraps around Toronto and the rest of the Golden Horseshoe. The problem, however, has been letting the GTA's ethnic communities know that they can get a taste of home right from their new backyard. That's a problem theToronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) is hoping to solve.

In partnership with the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and various community and cultural groups, the TEA has just released a set of booklets aimed at four of Toronto''s largest ethnic communities - Chinese, South Asian, Middle Eastern and African/Caribbean - to inform them of how and where they can find locally grown versions of their native produce. Each booklet features an introduction that lists a few of the traditional foods that are grown here in Ontario, followed by listings and maps of stores and groceries that carry local ethnic produce. Also included in each is a list of a few farmers markets in Toronto, and on-farm markets just outside of the city, where many of the fruits, vegetables and other products can be found.

To help mark the release of the new booklets, last week's second annual Queen's Park Plate took on an ethnic theme. Hosted at the Ontario Legislature by Speaker of the House and local food fan Steve Peters (pictured above enjoying a glass of Hockley Valley Dark Ale), the Queen's Park Plate brings together politicians, environmentalists, advocates and media to celebrate Ontario's local food and drink. Chefs from across the province created dishes using the best in Ontario-grown ingredients, while several of our top brewers and vintners provided libations to wash down the tasty bites.

Scroll on for some photos from the Queen's Park Plate, and for more information on the locally-grown cultural food guides or to download PDF copies, visit the TEA website.

Chef Brad Long (above) plates up peirogi (below) from the menu of his My Place gastropub.


Organic mushrooms from Wylie Mycologicals in Wiarton, used by chef Robin Pradhan of Rocky Racoon Cafe in Owen Sound to make Nepalese momos.

Wildass Wines from Stratus Vineyards, one of several wineries pouring at the event.

Beautiful and delicious Tostadas from chef Jose Hadad of Frida.

Chef Chris Haworth (above) of Spencer's at the Waterfront in Burlington preparing plates of Moroccan vegetable tagine with Red Fife pita (below).

Butternut squash & apple ravioli with curry Riesling sauce, chicken and salad from chef Sue Chury of Spice of Life in St. Catharines.

Potato & cheese and Greenbelt apple empanadas from Preston Empanadas.

As posted: http://www.tasteto.com/2009/10/12/local-goes-global-in-ontarios-greenbelt/

Local Goes Global in Ontario’s Greenbelt October 12 2009.pdf605.16 KB