Thursday, May 7, 2020

Meat the Future - Where's the Beef?

Because we are going through the most uncertain times currently due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hot Docs film festival has moved to showing their films on CBC on thursday nights. Today on May 7th, 2020 as we are all living under a state of emergency this Hot Docs Documentary is very timely. With the recent news of the Cargill plant in Calgary having to close because of Coronavirus infected workers it shows how vulnerable our food industry is. It is predicted that by 2050 we will not have enough food to feed the world so we need to figure out a solution for people to survive in the future.

This film is very eye-opening and thought provoking. I found I had conflicted feelings of balancing the genetic creation of food and the current practice of food production. I understand that there are inhumane food production practices because of the demand for beef and chicken, but I am also afraid of some of these new techniques because it opens the door for people to market food that nobody knows what will be in it or how it will affect health. I see the plant based craze for Beyond the Meat that still has stabilization chemicals in it but avoids the beef processing system so it solves people's animal rights issues and hopefully people understand that it's not a 100% health food.

This film will leave you thinking well past viewing this documentary and will have you thinking about it everytime you head to your grocery store to do your weekly shopping.

Birth of an industry 

a film by Liz Marshall

An official Hot Docs 2020 selection, Meat The Future is going to be premiering at the Hot Docs Festival Online, starting May 28. More details here.

World Broadcast Premiere
Thursday May 7
CBC and GEM, 8:00pm (8:30 NT) and documentary Channel, 9:00pm ET/PT

Award-winning The Ghosts in Our Machine director Liz Marshall returns with a new eye opening documentary about the future of meat.

Meat the Future, a story of the future of feeding the planet with a new innovation of cell-based meat. 
The goal is to innovate and produce real meat without slaughtering animals and without environmental destruction.

Currently we can see the results of food production during a pandemic with Beef Producers in Calgary and in the U.S. having shut down because of staff illness.

Animal agriculture dominates nearly half of the world’s land surface, producing more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation. The prospect of meat consumption doubling by 2050 is not only sobering, it is a wake-up call for solutions. Compared to conventionally-produced beef, cell-based beef is estimated, at scale, to reduce land use by more than 95%, climate change emissions by 74% to 87%, and nutrient pollution by 94%.

While plant-based eating is on the rise, a mass conversion to vegetarianism is unlikely. So, the planet’s future may lie with cell-based meat, also known as “clean meat” and “cultivated meat”, a scientific process of growing animal cells to harvest real poultry, beef, pork, fish and seafood. 

Meat the Future follows the genesis phase of the clean meat movement in America, behind the scenes with its pioneers – they are activists, scientists, researchers, marketers and policy experts, all focused on the goal of an ethical, sustainable and profitable food future. 

Meat the Future is seen through the experience of Mayo Clinic-trained cardiologist Dr. Uma Valeti, the co-founder and CEO of start-up company Memphis Meats. Valeti and his team are at the forefront of an industry, they have attracted worldwide interest and investment from the likes of billionaire influencers Bill Gates and Richard Branson and from food giant corporations Tyson and Cargill, and others. 

The founders have to navigate the process of the complicated regulatory processes in Washington, D.C. There, ranchers, farmers, and conventional meat lobby groups fight to protect their recognized brand of meat and beef “harvested in the traditional manner,” while representatives from the cellular agricultural community work to define a clear regulatory framework, urging America to be first to market. 

You will salivate as you watch top-ranked chefs perform their magic on the meat-of-the-future. 

Produced in association with documentary Channel, the Canada Media Fund and
the Redford Center Grants with funding provided by the New York Community Trust.
Produced with the participation of the Rogers Cable Network Fund.

Writer-Director-Producer: Liz Marshall
Executive Producers: Janice Dawe, Chris Hegedus
Associate Producer: Jessica Jennings
Editors: Caroline Christie, Roland Schlimme
Cinematographer: John Price
Music Composer: Igor Correia

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Coronavirus and the Food Industry

If you read my previous post I talked about the Restaurant Canada Show that I went to in March 2020.  I had high hopes for 2020 because I had a very rough year in 2019 physically, career wise, financially and of course that affected my mental health as well.  I was hoping to shake off that year and start fresh in 2020 and do what I wanted to do and spend more time with people I like spending time with and do less rushing around for no good reason.   While January and February started off quietly March came in like a Coronavirus Lion. 

I was looking forward to and hoped to have some more fun things to look forward to in 2020 but one thing I have learned over my lifetime is that as soon as I try and plan something too far in the future life smacks me upside the head and changes everything.

Luckily timing was good and I was able to attend one of my favourite trade shows of the year,  The Restaurant Canada Show,  as I said more about that in my previous post but just to sum it up it is one of my favourite shows because it's organize so well and it's the restaurant industry leaders who have booths, do panels and demos and visit the show.   My day job isn't in the food industry but because of this blog I have met so many people in the business and want to know as much as I can so that I can write with knowledge when I write these posts.

I had a fantastic time hanging out with my blogger friends, seeing chefs I knew and sampling all kinds of food over the 2 days that I visited the show.  But little did I know that it would probably be the last big event I would go to for possibly another year. 

Everything changed only a week later.  At the time I was at the Enercare Centre with loads of people, although it is so big it's not crowded luckily,  but just east of the Enercare Centre someone at a Mining Conference at the Metro Convention Centre tested positive for a new Coronavirus - Covid 19.  This virus started in 2019 in China and if you don't already know you are living in a bubble.

I was at the trade show on the Sunday and Monday and within 2 weeks I was working from home.  That doesn't sound unusual but my job was never supposed to be a work from home job.  I work in Public Service.  I knew things were serious when I got a laptop pronto and we had to figure out another way of getting work done.  Luckily I had already started thinking of getting more things done by sharing files on more cloud shareable platforms.  We can't do everything but it's now been about a month since I have been working from home and who knows how long this will go on.

So I will get to my point now,  I never expected the whole food industry to change after that Restaurant Canada Show and i am sure nobody at the show did either.

All of a sudden all events were cancelled until July and then things ramped up with the big step of non essential or big groups had to shut down so that meant Restaurants had to close and they could only provide Take Out.

There are thousands of restaurants of all sorts of sizes and kinds in Toronto and that shut down and within a couple of weeks destroyed the restaurant business.  The restaurant industry in Toronto has already been struggling to keep up with the high rents and the construction, transit issues and staffing issues and now this.  Over night restaurants closed and most will most likely never open their doors again because they won't have the money to keep them going through the reduced business that will occur for a long time to come.

So here's the other effect that happened because of a Virus that spread like wildfire across the globe.
People now fear going for groceries.  I ordered a pizza to support a Chef that owns a couple of pizza places.  It cost me $30 after charges and tax and tip to the Uber Driver for a pepperoni pizza.  I would never normally do that because I have like 5 different pizza places within a few blocks of where I live but ok so I supported local with my $$ and then got a firestorm of opinions about ordering takeout food on social media.  Some understanding supporting the restaurant industry and some totally paranoid about anything anyone touches that they would come into contact with.

While I will probably not order that pizza again it made me think that if this is what the public will think then we may lose 90 percent of the restaurants in this city out of fear and paranoia.   I say 90 percent because I know there are people out there who will still support their friends in the business no matter what.  Even though there are a ton of restaurants in the city the community is very tight.

So what else changed?  Well people buying up all the bread and yeast in the city.  Why?  Well to make all the Sourdough breads and Banana Breads that have been flooding Instagram accounts.

There are a few Instagram Food trends happening.  Here's what you will see.

1.  Banana Bread
2.  Sourdough or other types of bread that require time.
3.  Dalgona Coffee - the whipped coffee craze
4.  Pasta - especially Carbonara and straight up tomato sauce
5.  Gnocchi - following the pasta craze but making it at home now.
6.  Bowls of all kinds - smoothie bowls, bowls of Ramen, soup bowls.  any comfort thing in a bowl.
7.  Mac and Cheese- who doesn't love Mac and cheese... it's pasta with more cheese.
8.  Wine - people are trying to drink the virus away drinking wine while they are on zoom chats.
9.  Beer - craft beer in particular because people need their beer.
10.  And finally Desserts,  mostly chocolate chip cookies but there are lots of muffins, cakes, and whatever they can come up with.  Did you know that people are waiting in a drive through Krispy Kreme for 3 hours?

How many of these did I jump on the bandwagon with?  Well I would say 8 out of 10 just because I am not a beer or wine drinker but I have been putting Kahlua in my dalgona coffee.

The good thing to come out of this insanity though is an appreciation for the hard work that servers and chefs do and how we actually rely on them a lot more than we realize.   I always knew this and miss them a lot.

The servers should be paid more because they rely on tips to make ends meet and most have no benefits so at a time like this their only option is unemployment with will give them half of what they were making.

Also, the other good thing is that people are forced to get back into their kitchens and up their cooking skills or they will just be eating the same thing everyday.  It's a great time to teach kids cooking skills which they will have for life so that they can take care of themselves at any time this or anything worse happens.  I believe more people will start food gardens this year too.

I like to cook when I am inspired but not everyday so I like a balance of cooking and going to restaurants or getting takeout when I have other things that will occupy my time.  That option may not be available as much if this pandemic continues for a long time.

It's interesting how we now realize that Nurses, PSW's, grocery store workers, chefs, servers, Police, Firefighters, EMS, truck drivers and farmers should be paid a lot more than celebrities and sports people.  They aren't going to keep us alive.  We do need entertainment to lift our soul but it's not going to do anything for us if we get Covid 19 so I hope that people's priorities and values shift a lot after we return to somewhat of a normal existence.   Although I believe we will never go back to the way things were.  The world changed after Sars, 9/11 and some other large disasters.   We will never look at handshakes, hugs, crowds and food sources the same way again.

Never take things for granted because everything can change like a virus spreading overnight.

Thank the people that keep you alive.  Help whoever you can.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Restaurant Industry in Canada during Covid 19

It's hard to believe that it's been just over a month since I went to my last big Food Industry Show.  At the beginning of March I visited the Restaurant Canada Show at the Enercare Centre in Toronto.  This show is one of my favourite shows of the year. I look forward to it so much because it's a chance to check out what's new in the Restaurant Industry and I also get to hang out with many fellow foodies and people I have met in the industry over the past almost 10 years of blogging.

I meant to write this post a whole lot sooner but everything blew up just after the show with the shutdowns of businesses and people including myself moving to working at home for continued services.

Sadly the whole Restaurant Industry changed in a matter of a couple of weeks after the show.

A little bit about the show before I move to the reason I am posting this now.

At the show this year there weren't any glaring trends that I could see but there was a lot of focus on more gluten free, and keto focused products.  There was a lot of meat and fish with a whole area focused on Seafood.  My friend Matt Dean Pettit had a booth for his Matty's Seafood brand so as I was whipping around the show I had a quick hi and then dashed off to a last minute Sea-cuterie platter workshop at the other end of the show.  I did a post about it previously on the blog.

I went to the show 2 days in a row because there are so many workshops and talks and things to sample.  It's really hard to sample all the food you want to try in one day.  I had to skip things I have tried before and looked for favourites like of course the Oysters because it's something I don't eat often and all of the new products are what I generally look out for.

I didn't see anything that stood out as innovative this time but there was more of quality and sustainability.

This year the country that was spotlighted was Peru.  We got to sample a delicious Peruvian breakfast that included some incredible Ceviche.  Yes ceviche breakfast was the first thing I tried on the first day of the show and it was great

These artichokes were one of the more interesting things I tried.  I wish I could remember the booth it was at though.  I was really rushing to see and try as much as I could.

I tried fantastic Procciutto, empanadas, tostadas and so much more but for some reason I didn't get photos of everything.  I didn't actually eat as much as I have in the past so there were less photos.

My friend Vicky was busy sampling at the Unbun booth, where I tried the samples that the Pro  what the chef had whipped up at the booth while Vicky was busy telling people about the Keto friendly buns.

Let's chat about the people at the show.

Besides Vicky and Matt there were a bunch of other people that were there that I want to shout out.

Fellow food blogger Joyce from Joyce of Cooking was joined by Joanna Sable for a talk about Influencers in the food industry (bloggers and others).  It was a very informed talk.  Joanna Sable's mom has been a food producer for many years and Joyce worked in restaurants and is now a restaurant marketing consultant.  I learned a few things I didn't know about even.

Emily Richards was doing cooking demos for as she called it "fluid" dairy products or what you would call milk type of products for Savour Ontario.  I just missed her demo but stopped to see what she was cooking and it sounded very interesting.

I also sat in on a Harassment in the Workplace talk presented by Workers Safety and Prevention Services who provide Joint Health and Safety Committee training among other food industry educational training.

Christine Manning of Manning Canning was there with her healthy Soda's.  I tried the one with Ginger since I figured it was the best one for digesting all the samples I was wolfing down that day.

The booth that I kept going back to a few times over 2 days was the Pluck Tea booth because I fell in love with their Verbena Blues iced tea.  Check out the color when mixed with lemon juice.  It was so refreshing.  I need to get some for the hot summer days if we ever get any.

I also loved the Coconut Cold brew at Station Cold Brew.
Kraft had a Peanut butter sauce. I guess meant for Thai cooking.

But mostly I loved running around with my foodie friends trying to see and try everything.  It's hard to believe this is the last time I got to hang out with my blogger pals.  I hope that Covid 19 doesn't last too much longer and the Restaurant Industry can get back to providing the much needed delicious food and for us it's a way of socializing while doing what we love.   We all want to thank all the people that work in the Food Industry.  We appreciate and Love you and miss you all and hope that you can all get back on your feet very soon.

So back to the reason I am posting this Blog Post today specifically.

Today is the 1st day of #TAKEOUTDAY.  Every Wednesday from today until it's not needed anymore the Restaurant Industry in Toronto want you to support your local restaurants by ordering Take Out food so keep these restaurants going.

You can find your local restaurant through Restaurant Canada's - Canada Take Out website at

While we want you to stay home we also don't want to see great restaurants have to close down because of lack of business from the self isolating practices.   Be careful how you get your take out and if you can have it delivered even better.

Support restauranteurs like Trevor Lui seen with us crazy bloggers on the first day of the Show.  Trevor has been responsible for many restaurants like Kanpai and recently Popa at Bayview Village.

Restaurant workers work really hard and don't make a lot of money and they provide us with delicious food and are a source of good times and community for all of us.

Please support them and thank them because they are struggling to keep their doors open at this time.