10 Projects Improving Canada’s Food System

10 Projects Improving Canada’s Food System

The world’s second-largest country boasts an impressive team of chefs, farmers, educators, and activists working to improve its food system. Here are ten making a difference for Canada's eaters.

ACORN, the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network, is a resource for producers and consumers committed to a strong organic agriculture community. It operates a nationwide database of certified organic farmers and farmers markets, as well as a CSA-finder and annual conference. ACORN also runs the Grow A Farmer mentorship program, developed to “share knowledge and build community among experienced, new and aspiring growers.”

Farm Folk City Folk is a 20-year-old non-profit “in celebration of local food.” The organization aims to bridge the gap between rural and urbam with a tri-annual free magazine and a roster of projects aimed at strengthening British Columbia’s local food community. Notably, it offers micro-loans to “farmers, fishers, ranchers, harvesters and processors” of a similar mindset.

The Fish Counter is a partnership between veteran chef Robert Clark and marine biologist Mike McDermid. The Vancouver eatery sources seafood from a motley crew of “salt of the earth” fishermen and women, each committed a sustainable Pacific Northwest fishery. The restaurant has received accolades from Ocean Wise and Slow Food Canada for its conservation efforts. The fish and chips counter opens at 11.

Food Secure Canada is a public advocacy organization campaigning for clean food for everyone in the country through a sustainable food system. They lobby politicians to bring food security to the four million Canadians who suffer from lack of access to healthy food. According to FSC’s Executive Director Diana Bronson, “it’s an uphill battle.”

Growing Chefs is a Vancouver-based charity focused on building better food systems and healthy eating habits by teaching kids to cook. Their chef-volunteers work in elementary school classrooms to plant gardens, harvest vegetables, and teach basic cooking skills.

Kevin Kossowon is a brand himself. Though primarily a video producer – his recent projects include the ingredient-focused KevinTV and a series of hunter-gatherer shows called From The Wild – he is also a farmer and activist. His urban Lactuca Farm supplies several Edmonton restaurants and a Farmers Market. Shovel & Fork is Kossowon’s educational outfit, teaching classes in butchering, beekeeping, and more in Alberta.

Really Local Harvest (La Récoulte De Chez-Nous) started in 2000 as a co-op for New Brunswick’s farming community to distribute products within local communities. Since then it’s expanded to include a Farmers Market and, recently, a separate non-profit that coordinates local produce deliveries to the region’s schools.

The Screaming Avocado Café is a passion project of chef-turned-teacher Paul Finkelstein. The café serves as both an alternative to processed cafeteria food and a classroom for the students who run it for school credit. The school has since added a small livestock operation and garden to teach food systems “from seed to table.”

Seeds of Diversity runs the Canadian Seed Library, a cryo-packed vault of rare seeds that serves as an archive for Canadian farmers and researchers. The organization also produces educational programs that encourage farmers to save and share their seeds, a quarterly magazine, and a variety of workshops on pollination and heritage seed varieties.

TapRoot Farms is a certified organic operation in Nova Scotia’s fertile Annapolis Valley farming belt. Husband and wife team Josh Oulton and Patricia Bishop run a year-round 500-member CSA on 30 acres. Their community-centric approach to farming serves as classroom and model for aspiring farmers through their mentorship programs and work with non-profit organizations.