Tomorrow, July 31, is the 8th annual celebration of Food Day, which in a local sense celebrates the food we produce and offer here in Halifax and Nova Scotia, and on the whole celebrates diversity, creativity and the wonderful cuisine that is available to and from different communities across the country. Whether it’s at a restaurant that is committed to local food, meat and vegetables you purchase from a local farmer at a nearby market, or food grown in your own garden, this is a chance to celebrate Nova Scotia’s amazing culinary landscape.
“The genesis of Food Day was in 2003 when the BSE crisis was at it height,” Anita Stewart, the culinary activist (not to mention award-winning author, CBC broadcaster and gastronomy superstar) behind the day of action, tells me. “Whole families were ruined and communities, particularly in the Prairies, were devastated. I called my friends and colleagues from across Canada to their barbecues to have a national party on the August long weekend. I asked them to grill at 6 pm in whatever time zone they were in so we could join hands in a virtual fashion and show solidarity for our farmers. In 2004 the request went out again but I felt that we should just cook and grill ALL Canadian ingredients. It became very apparent that that weekend was THE time in the summer that Canadians from all regions had parties and reunions and camping trips…and local/regional food was constantly involved. It hit me…hey…this IS Canada’s food day so why not name it?”
“I believe strongly that we must be in control of our own food supply and this is one way of raising awareness….and besides, food from here tastes better. There are 136 restaurants across Canada participating…they were chosen because they walk the talk. Many have risked a lot financially to use local ingredients.” In Nova Scotia this includes Fid Resto, Le Caveau, Tempest, Fleur de Sel, Chives, the Wooden Monkey and Chanterelle Country Inn all have Food Day celebrations.
“It demonstrates that chefs and restaurateurs from across the breadth of this great land are united in their belief that regional cuisines borne of great local products are to be celebrated with those who love to dine out,” says Chef Michael Howell, from Wolfville’s Tempest Restaurant. Howell is a huge proponent of local food and the leader of the slow food movement here in Nova Scotia.
“We have the bounty of both the land AND the sea at our doorstep. Showcasing both Lobster AND Pork from local producers is an easy and delicious way for me to let my customers know that far from Canada’s largest cities we can have great food too!” Along with local lobster and pork, the Tempest menu includes sorbets made from seasonal fruits, and lots of greens that were doubtlessly purchased from Wolfville’s amazing farmers’ market.
One note: tomorrow is also the last day that the Brewery Market as we know it will be operating, so make sure you take a bit of time to celebrate local food with your last trip to that delightful little labyrinth. Next week the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market opens and the Brewery Market becomes the Historic Farmers’ Market Co-operative Ltd. There will still be around 60 vendors there, while around 100 will be at the new Seaport market, which will only be open on Saturdays for the first month or so, but will eventually extend to weekdays as well.