Local Food as a Social Bond

Our culinary practices have changed tremendously over the past few decades. Our access to a diverse range of food, now including ingredients from all over the world, has profoundly affected our way of eating.

In Canada, in just two generations, we have transitioned from a diet that was entirely local and seasonal, to one that is predominantly imported. Instead of typical plates of pork, turnips, and cabbage, we now consume plates filled with jackfruit from Hawaii, South American quinoa, and international spices. The choice of ingredients available to us has exploded; the diversity of products we can choose from is wide. These rapid changes, while positive for culinary creativity, have disrupted the very essence of our eating habits, leaving us bewildered about which practices to adopt. What is our modern Canadian culinary culture? Within this question lies the essence of a deep cultural and environmental issue.

Although we can not blame people for wanting to taste ingredients from elsewhere, which offer unique and diverse flavors, a shift in our culinary culture seems necessary. The problem is not the access to diverse products in itself, but rather the consumption habits we adopt in response to the availability of these products. Without completely banning these goods from our diets, it appears necessary to move towards a food basket primarily composed of local ingredients. Chefs, restaurant owners and farmers promote this movement towards a culinary culture rooted in our local regions. With great commitment and creativity, these passionate individuals strive to emphasize the importance of these changes by showcasing the quality of local products. This movement is motivated by obvious environmental reasons – such as reducing the distance food travels and improving control over agricultural practices – but also by a deep desire to make the exceptional flavors of local produce known and appreciated for their true value.

A genuine appreciation of local products requires a shift in culture and social practices. What if we took inspiration from Italian culture, in which every village restaurant serves dishes that feature tomatoes grown locally? When it is not tomatoes from the restaurant’s own garden, it is those from the neighbor next door that are served in their dishes every time. Why? Because there are no better tomatoes than freshly picked ones.

What makes us the most proud should be to serve dishes made from our own colorful peppers, crunchy cucumbers, eggs from our chickens, and the honey from our bees. Let the word “local” become unequivocally a mark of pride, and above all, of quality.

With the world’s largest network of farmers, diverse and flavorful products despite endless winter conditions each year, there is reason to celebrate the strength of the Canadian food system.

Cheers to all farmers and their work