Thursday, May 31, 2012

Farm to city to people

The great thing about summer in Toronto are the Outdoor Farmer's Markets.  Today was the second time this week that I visited a farmer's market in the city.  This time I got as Green as I could get by walking to the market.  What I would really love is a market within walking distance that was 100% organic.  This market is a small one because it's at Mel Lastman Square on Yonge street so there isn't a lot of space for the vendors and trucks but they do have a nice variety of things anyway.    I started my day with my breakfast/lunch of 5 perogies and a cabbage roll for $5.00.  Take that fast food.   It's a little weird being able to see a Russian vendor in the middle of a city farmer's market but that really shows the diversity in this city.  I also picked up some key lime hand soap with no phosphates etc in it.  I also got a clean stick that you rub on clothing to remove stains.
Then of course what I went for were the vegetables.  I have to say that not all things are bargains but you can find decent prices on somethings.  I picked up a romaine salad for $2.   I also picked up some vine ripened tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, fresh peas, asparagus and even some meringues from a lovely bakery vendor.

This is the 1st official week in Toronto that most of the farmer's markets have opened for the summer and there is a different one every week in different locations.  You can find the list on the Toronto Farmers Markets website or on the City of Toronto Special events listings.  The other thing I really love about the farmer's markets is the fact that you can see the farm truck parked next to the vendors in some cases and you know where your food has come from.  If you can walk or bike to a market close to where you live and the farm trucks don't have to drive from outside of GTA then a whole lot more oil/gas isn't being burned in the process and a considerable amount of emissions are being saved from being deposited into the environment.  I was able to walk today.  I am going to try and go to a different farmer's market around the city at least once a week and do a little comparison and also to share the wealth.  We need to support the farmers and the best way is to buy from them directly and not through a huge grocery store that has to add a distributor and warehouse and long distance transport to the mix.  In Canada we can't go to farmer's markets every week but I would suggest that you try and make it to as many of them as you can while they are open.  You thank the farmers and vendors directly with your money and with your presence.   Without them there is no food.  We need to keep this precious resource alive and keep the farms able to be sustainable for years to come.  If you don't want to eat 100% Genetically modified food in the next 10 years then we need to show the people that are responsible for our food that doing the right thing matters.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Milestone's random act of kindness

This is my friend Lynn waiting for her dinner at Milestone's restaurant the other day.   Notice the fact that Lynn's hair is really short.  That's because Lynn has just finished chemotherapy treatments for Breast cancer.  What you can't see from this photo is the fact that she doesn't have eyebrows or eyelashes either.  The reason you can't see that is because I just finished taking photos of Lynn at my apartment for a record of how she looks before surgery and had to paint on her eyebrows and lashes.  Lynn just finished her chemo treatments a couple of weeks ago and will probably be getting a mastectomy next month.  She wanted to document this point in time before her surgery, so I offered to help her with the photos.  What she forgot was the fact that I did makeup for 30 years.   But this was a different makeup job than I would have normally done.  Because Lynn's immune system has been compromised by the chemo I had to be very careful about the makeup and tools I used on her face, so I opted to use a couple of never used brushes and cotton pads, q tips and minimal tugging on the eyes. What does this have to do with food you ask?  Nothing, but the reason we ended up at Milestone's in North York.   Last week Lynn had a post chemo party at her house and friends gave her gift cards.  One of those gift cards was for Milestone's restaurant.  She wanted to thank me for taking her photos of her so she asked me if I wanted to go to Milestone's for dinner with her.  Since the Milestone's is within walking distance of my place and it was just about time for dinner I thought it was a great idea.

When we sat down Lynn told the really nice waiter that we just finished taking photos and then asked if a chicken dish was spicy.  He said it was kind of spicy so she told him that she had to be careful of spicy foods because she just finished chemotherapy.  The manager walked by and he asked for confirmation on how spicy it would be.  They both suggested another chicken dish for her.

As soon as the waiter left the lady at the table beside us came over and said that she noticed her coming in and the cancer haircut.  She said her daughter just went through cancer treatments so she understood that look and what she was going through.  They talked for a bit and I think it made Lynn feel good to be acknowledged and have her share her story.    I snapped this photo while Lynn was sending a text message to someone telling them about doing the photo shoot so i thought it would be fun to take a photo while she was texting that.  That's why she is looking down.

Anyway.. back to the food aspect.   I ordered the original chicken dish she asked about called the Harissa Chicken.  It was on brown rice with a yoghurt sauce and green beans and carrots.   Super healthy and perfectly seasoned.  It did have a bit of heat but not too much for me to handle but might have been different for Lynn's compromised taste buds.  It was delicious and look how beautiful it was presented.

After our chicken entrees we ordered the shooter glass desserts.  They were super rich and Lynn contemplated ordering another dish since she couldn't eat her chick peas that we in her chicken dish, but after having those desserts we were pretty full.

She put down her gift card and a bit of money in case it went over and went to the bathroom.   The waiter came by and cleared the table but didn't take the gift card/money.   At first I thought that was odd and then I though maybe he will just come back to deal with the bill.   Lynn came back to the table a few minutes later and then the manager came over and bent over and quietly told Lynn that since it was her first nice meal out after her treatments that he wanted to comp our meal.  He was really sweet about it and tried to be very discreet and respectful.   A few minutes later the waiter came over and asked if we heard the good news.   We thanked them both for being so kind and generous.  Lynn told them that it made her day.    She still has her gift card and plans to go back again soon.

I have always liked Milestone's because they try and give you great service and try and change up the menus every now and then while keeping a few favourites on the menu.   What I also like about Milestone's is that I used to have monthly sunday brunches and Milestone's was one of the only restaurants that welcomed a big group and didn't rush us out the door but let us enjoy our brunch conversations.   It truly is a great place to celebrate Milestone's even if one of them is finishing chemotherapy.

I really love the decor and atmosphere in most of the Milestone's restaurants.  It's upscale casual and I always feel comfortable there.  I have gone for many birthdays and other occasions but this time their service really excelled and the food matched the service.   This is how restaurants should do it.    We don't expect to get free meals but it's nice when servers and managers listen to their customers needs and try and accommodate to their needs.    If I was a restaurant critic with a star system I would give them 5 stars for this visit. 

Other restaurants could learn from this example.   Lynn had a few rough days of making the big decision between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy so things like someone going out of their way to make her feel good really put her in a good frame of mind.

It's not always about the food.   The service and atmosphere is just as important for the whole experience of dining out.

Thank you Milestone's North York.  We will be back.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Farmer's Market Inspiration

It was a record breaking Hot Day in Toronto today and I wanted to go to a Farmer's market.  When I looked up farmer's markets on the Toronto Farmer's Market list I found a Market I have never been to before.  It's the West End Food Coop.  It's a Market on Saurauren, around the Dundas West area. It was a whim type of decision.  I just thought I want to go to a farmer's market and see if I could get some fresh picked Ontario Strawberries.

 I found my Strawberries and found a lot more inspiration and  a friend to share it with.   As I was walking around checking out the vendors I bump into my friend Nick.  He works from home so you never know what he's up to so I was surprised to run into him there.  Although it was closer to where he lives and nowhere near where I live.  I decided that since I am not working a day job right now I would like to check out farmer's markets that I haven't been to and see if there are any differences between them.  As it turns out it was Nick's first trip to that same market, even though he is close enough to ride his bike there.  I guess this was his first opportunity to check it out too. He picked up a fish sandwich and was about to sit down to eat it and on the way to the bench I spied a popsicle vendor who made all sorts of fresh flavours.  I was going to get a Vietnamese Coffee flavour or maybe a watermelon lime concoction but then she said there were a couple of things that weren't on the menu board.  One of them was a Mojito flavour.  BINGO....she got my attention.  On a day that is over 30 degrees what's better than a lime/mint Mojito.  I grabbed one while my friend parked his bike.  I guess it sounded good to him too so he got one for himself.

What a great day.  Sitting at a picnic table under a tree having some Mojito pops with a friend I just happened to bump in to.  Coincidence is a funny thing.

After having that great Mojito pop we both thought it was a good idea and we should do that at home.   So I decided to pick up some more mint to plant on my balcony.

After I left the market I stopped into Kensington market and even found the popsicle containers to make them with.   HMMM... interesting for an unplanned day.

I think I even spotted Carl from Top Chef Canada at that market doing a bit of shopping.  So if it's good enough for a Top Chef it's good enough for me.

I am now ready to make some homemade mojito pops and it's all because of my Farmer's Market Inspiration today.   That's something you can't get from a supermarket.   I doubt you are going to bump into a friend at a supermarket and then sit and  have Mojito's under a tree in the middle of shopping.   Gotta Love it.   And that's why I love to go to Farmer's Markets.

For directions to this monday market check their website:

We also picked up something I have never seen before - Tokyo Radishes.  

What's great about these radishes other than the cool white color is the fact that you can eat the root part as well as the leaves.  It has a peppery taste and would give you a nice crunch in a salad without having to add a lot of seasonings.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Food Revolution Day at Petits Chefs Academy in Vaughan, On

I did 2 Events on Food Revolution Day on May 19th 2012.  One was as a Filmmaker and one as a cook.   This is a video I put together from my visit to The Petits Chefs Academy.  I filmed some footage for Food Revolution and also for my documentary Eco Losers.  The Eco Losers family attended the cooking class and event at the Academy.

for more info on the Petits Chefs Academy.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Food Revolution Dinner Party

me tossing the salad

Whoever said that throwing a great dinner party while trying to cook from scratch was easy hasn't done it right.  I spent about 3 days shopping, prepping and cooking food to get ready for my Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Day Dinner Party.  Although I only had about 6 guests I tried to make as much of a variety of vegetables as I could prepare and tried to keep with a spring Italian feel mostly.  Inspired by the Jamie Oliver pasta and sauces I received from Shalit Foods, I made a vegetarian Lasagna that I tried to think of as a combination of a pesto sauce/tomato sauce/cheese sauce kind of lasagna with the Pesto being kale, spinach and basil combined with a little bit of garlic.  The tomato sauce was Jamie Oliver's tomato chili sauce and additional San Marzano diced tomatoes and a beefsteak tomato.  The cheese sauce was buffalo mozzerella, parmesan, and the italian grated cheese blend and some ricotta.   To boost the veggie content I added caramelized onions and roasted red peppers.   My guests went nuts over the lasagna and I even got a comment that it was the best vegetarian lasagna that they ever had.  The also said it was as good as a traditional meat lasagna.  This is what it looked like.
vegetarian lasagna
I also made a bunch of salads, pickled cucumbers, coleslaw that I made with homemade mayonnaise that I made with Jamie Oliver's Olive Oil, a mixed vegetable garden salad also using the Jamie Oliver Olive Oil for the salad dressing. I roasted beets and just added a bit of vinegar and also roasted some cauliflower.  I made a bean dip, hummus and I had some shrimps with cocktail sauce in case anyone felt like they were missing out on the traditional proteins. 

Dill cucumbers
Shrimp with cocktail sauce

The point of the whole dinner was to return to the way we used to eat, with family and friends eating around a table and eating simple but tasty foods.  My food isn't fancy or complicated but it has pure flavour. I cook from my childhood influences of eating my mother's european cooking style and the influence of my italian neighbours home cooking.  With a little greek thrown in from my dad's side.  I grew up on a street where there were Italian, portuguese, jewish and canadian families and as a kid my mom would take me to a cultural event every year called Carivan where I would try foods from cultures around the world.  Food is the only thing in the world that is universal and can be shared with people from any culture, race, nationality, economic background and class.  A poor woman can make a peasant meal that a King would relish.  

The Food Revolution Day event was to inspire people to share food, educate people on how to cook healthy good food and to enjoy food as a group again.  We need to get away from our drive through lifestyles for the health of the World in the future.  The more we know who and where are food comes from the better.  If you know the farmer that provided the food you are eating by his first name you are generally more likely to respect that same food and appreciate the work that it took to produce it.  You would prepare the meal with the thought of not wasting it and getting the maximum flavour out of it instead of just having a throw away meal.

I hope that I inspired my guest to think about their food more and maybe they will make some of the things I made and pass it on to other people so that it creates a chain reaction around the world.  Each one, teach one.

We were lucky enough to have a beautiful spring day to celebrate the day and we were able to eat our meal Al Fresco on my balcony.  I think that the ambiance of the environment always contributes to having a better food experience and we were lucky to have the weather contribute to a successful dinner party.

Meringue with Strawberries in Balsalmic/Brandy syrup

For dessert I made a meringue disc and piled organic strawberries that were soaked in balsamic vinegar and brandy syrup.

You can have your cake with friends and eat it too if you just do it the right way. Eating healthy is not a sacrifice it's a pleasure once you know how to cook things to bring out their natural flavours.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Slicing and Dicing Real Food for a Revolution

Food Revolution Salad
I have been slicing and dicing all day trying to prepare most of my Real Food Dinner for Food Revolution Day tomorrow May 19th.   I started at 8:30am and have been caramelizing onions, roasting peppers, grating carrots, chopping vegetables, blending spreads, spinning lettuces and generally being a human food processor in preparation for my dinner party for jamie Oliver's invention to get people around the world mobilized to spend this one day making an effort to get people to eat Real Food.  We don't have food education in schools the way we used to when I was a kid.  Home Ec wasn't always the most healthiest food education but there were times when there was a real food recipe.  Just the fact that we had home ec in schools was a good thing.  I believe that kids should be taught how to feed themselves properly from a young age so that they can be self sufficient in their lives when they are able and can assist their parents in eating proper foods.  The growing obesity numbers are becoming very scary and I think that if kids learn to break the mistakes that their parents learned then maybe we can reverse the obesity rates.  People don't know what they are eating anymore.  They just grab and go.  I am guilty of doing the same thing when things get busy and when you run low on energy, time and money you turn to the quick fix of a drive-thru.   You are done with dinner in a matter of minutes and can continue on your daily duties.

Maybe someone should invent a healthy fast food chain where you drive through and pick up carrot sticks instead of french fries.  Maybe you get a falafel burger instead of a beef burger.   Just a thought.  What if you packaged healthier foods and marketed healthier foods the way junk food is marketed?  Would people eat more broccoli and brussel sprouts?  What if you got veggies in a bun that looked like a burger or hot dog, would you eat it then?

I have been thinking for a while that if I ever won a lottery I would create a new kind of drive thru.. one that I would want to go to if I could get anything I wanted that was good for me.   Roasted peppers and chicken on a bun, or maybe some pineapple spears dipped in dark chocolate.   YUMM.

I think the reason people have abandoned making a lot of vegetables is because it takes super fresh vegetables in season and prepared fresh and in the right way to maximize the flavour.  Buying, preparing, storing, cooking and cleaning up after making a huge salad like the one above is a lot of work.

In the Salad pictured I did the following:
shredded carrots
diced a hot house tomato
sliced radishes
chopped parsley
chopped cilantro
sliced cherry tomatoes
sliced tri colored peppers
sliced cucumbers
sliced green onions

not pictured is the lettuce I couldn't fit in the bowl that I sliced.

and I didn't even add the salad dressing.   I think more scraps went into the garbage in prepping all this than into the bowl.  Just making this salad probably took about an hour with all the slicing/dicing and cleaning up.

So why did I do it?  Because it's the right thing to do.  I want to feed my guests real food and hope that they will like it enough to make it for themselves.

Since I will be filming another event tomorrow before my dinner party I had to prep my salad and the vegetarian lasagna that I also made so that I just need to come home and cook the lasagna and toss the salad dressing into the salads I made and get the appetizer and desserts plated.   it's a small dinner party but I am trying to pack a whole load of vegetables into my foods.

In this Lasagna I added the following:

Vegetarian green powered Lasagna
Jamie Oliver pasta noodles
Jamie Oliver tomato and chili pasta sauce
Can of organic san marzano tomatoes
1 beefsteak tomato
caramelized onions
roasted red peppers
a mix of blended kale, spinach and basil pesto
ricotta cheese
buffalo mozzerella cheese
mozzarella blend cheese
freshly grated parmesan cheese

It sounds simple but it was a whole lot of prep work.... slicing onions and slowly caramelizing them, roasting and peeling red peppers, blanching and blending greens, grating cheese.

It took more time to prep the ingredients than it did to layer it into this dish.   Tomorrow I will bake it when my guests arrive so it's hot and gooey.  If it works the layers will be red, white and green like an Italian Flag.  Unlike a typical lasagna there is no meat but there is also the added boost of Kale and red peppers.  Every color has a different property and it all adds up to a fully nourished meal.

If done well everyone will be satisfied without feeling like they will never eat again.

For dessert i bought Organic Strawberries and used Jamie Oliver's Balsalmic vinegar and some brandy to make a syrup and will spoon it onto meringues that I need to get my second wind to whip up.

If this is a success then I hope that this becomes an annual event where we challenge ourselves to make great and healthy meals for friends, family and even strangers.

Go get some Real Food and Get Cooking.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Food Revolution Day cooking class at Unison Health

A Video I filmed at Unison Health and Social Services of Adell Shneer and her sister Rochelle doing a cooking demo for the new mom's at the centre.  The recipes were low cost, healthy and kid friendly foods. This is part of a Global initiative for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day event.  Food Revolution Day is May 19th.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Food Revolution Day -in Toronto

Stand Up for Real Food on MAY 19th

This coming Saturday I will be a Food Revolution Ambassador hopping around the GTA filming, cooking and participating in Food Revolution Day Events.

Starting with a Cooking Demo at The Stop's Farmer's Market at the Wychwood Barns where chef Christine Tizzard will be demonstrating free healthy food demos to the Farmer's Market attendees.  I will pop in to film a bit of video of the event.

Next I will try and pop into Mardi's Pass it on Cooking class at the Kitchen Studio at the Cookbook Store where I will take some photos and video.

The next destination will be at the Petits Chef's Academy to film their event and also to film Logan a 3 year old boy who is the son of The Eco Losers.  The Eco Losers are Heather and Paul who are trying to lose weight while reducing their eco footprints.  They want to create a better world for their son Logan.  He has shown an interest in cooking but not so much in the eating so they want to encourage his interest and have him participate in a free hands on cooking class at the academy.  I will be there to film him in his future chef training for the Eco Losers Documentary.  There are still a few spots available if you have some budding mini chefs.

And finally I will be hosting my own Dinner Party where I will make some great Vegetarian Lasagna and some fresh market salads using some of Jamie Oliver's line of Pasta and sauces.

I am one of a team of GTA Ambassadors trying to spread the message to people all over to Get Real and get back to cooking real food and spread the word to pass it on to everyone you know.

For more information and to host or join an event go to the website at

This is Adell who is one of the GTA Ambassador's who has been working tirelessly to host an Event for new mom's and has also been instrumental in the GTA team getting events off the ground by helping everyone to get things they need for their events.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cookbooks make great Birthday gifts.

I love getting gift cards to my favourite places and things.  Last night I got gift cards for my birthday for Starbucks, Winners and Chapters.

Today I redeemed the Chapters card and was lucky enough to put it to something I already wanted.   I  love collecting great cookbooks and have been trying to get cookbooks when I can get the chef/authors to sign them so that I will keep them around for a long time.

I got lucky with my timing today because Chuck Hughes one of my favourite food network chef's and star of "Chuck's Day Off", finally launched his English version of his cookbook GARDE MANGER.   And he just happened to be doing a book signing at the Chapters closest to my house.

 I turned my little plastic Chapters gift card into a cookbook and a chat with Chuck Hughes.

You know you love food when you turn a gift card into a food related gift.

I have seen Chuck a few times before,  once when I went to Savour Stratford, I won a weekend stay for that and made it a fun weekend to spent time with a friend that lives in the area.  That was the first time I saw him do a cooking demo.  He was hilarious and rolled with the audience.   The second time I saw Chuck was at the Wine and Cheese show where he did a cooking demo once again.  I didn't get to try any of his food but was dying to taste it.   I got the chance to taste some Chuck Hughes food finally at the third time I saw him and it wasn't at a cooking demo it was at the Strombolouopoulos tonight show where he did an interview with Strombo but brought along some fresh oysters and minionette sauces and salsas to go with it.  YUMMY.

Since food follows Chuck wherever he goes today was no exception and it was the first time I ever saw food being provided at a book store signing.  Pusateri's provided beautiful cake, coffee and finger sandwiches to all the people at the book signing.  That was impressive I have to say since i have been collecting a few cookbooks from some great local chefs but none of them had catering.

My Chapters gift card magically turned into a cookbook and had some free cake to go with it and used my Starbuck's gift card to wash it all down with a mocha coconut frappuccino.  yummy. who knew plastic could be so tasty.

So my advice if you can't figure out what to get a foodie as a gift then pick up a gift certificate to get a great cookbook and who knows maybe your foodie gift will turn into an experience at the same time.

Birthday Cake

Have you ever spent your birthday with friends and family where food wasn't involved?  I think the only way to avoid the decadent Birthday Cake is to spend you birthday alone on a desert island..not dessert island because that would be bad.

Yesterday was my birthday so my friends bought me cake.  I had chocolate cake twice in one night.  The first one was a slice of cake at the restaurant we went to for dinner.  It was average so I passed it around.  Then my friend got this little chocolate cake.  It was so cute.  It was a Pusateri's cake.  I was so glad it was a tiny cake because there was only 4 of us around to have this cake.  It was extremely rich and decadent.  I still have one piece left for a cake craving and my friend took a piece home.  I hate it when you have to buy a huge Birthday cake but there are only a few people around to eat it so you either gorge yourself to the point of never wanting to eat cake again or it just goes stale and goes to waste.   More bakers should make cakes this size.  It could be 4 huge slices or 6 comfortable slices which I preferred.   No waste.

I really felt the cake over kill by the end of the night and was really glad I only had a couple of bites of the first cake.

I had cake again today at a book signing and was thinking that I was really glad that I saw most of my friends already so I don't have to repeat the cake gorging.   The advantage of having a small family is that you don't have cake all the time so you can appreciate it when you do.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What makes a Great Restaurant?

I saw an article that stated that Canada doesn't make the list in the world's greatest restaurants.   Normally I wouldn't agree but with some great restaurants closing down or their quality declining or the trend towards chain restaurants I feel that it may be time for a Restaurant shake up so that we can prove that we have great chefs in this country that pull from all the diversity that we have in this Country.

So what makes a Great Restaurant?   These are the things that I think should be on that list.

1. Consistently great food.  Not 1 good dish once in a while...but all dishes on the menu great.

2. Value for the Money.  I don't mind paying more if the value is there.

3. Great environment.  It makes you feel great when you spend time there.

4. Beautiful decor.  I like to see restaurants become inspirations for how decor should be. If I am going to leave my house I want to spend my time in a place nicer than my home.

5. Originality.  I live in an area that has about a dozen Sushi restaurants.  I can only think of one Sushi restaurant in the city that has stood out in excellence in preparation and presentation.  The rest are pretty much the same thing.  Restaurants start to follow a trend and then before you know it they are all serving the same thing.  With a country with the most diversity in the World we should have the most diverse food influences.  I would like to see restaurants develop their own food personalities that don't copy anyone else's.

6.  Great Service.  This goes without saying.  Even if you have a great meal it you may leave feeling less than satisfied.  I once sat in a restaurant where the wait staff bent over hand over foot to serve a woman that was sitting close to me but she totally ignored me and leaving me there to wait for the bill with no food on the table for over 20 minutes.  The woman that was served well even made a comment to me as I left so it was noticed by someone else besides me.  I will never go back there.

7.  Accessibility.   I know a great restaurant in Toronto that only has 40 seats so you can't eat there unless you plan well in advance.  I don't usually plan to go out to eat 2 months in advance so that doesn't work for me.  Restaurants that can't accommodate an event dinner like a Birthday party.  I tried to reserve a table for 9 but found it difficult to find a restaurant that could accommodate this on a saturday night.    People want to go out to celebrate occasions and sometimes want to go out as a group to a restaurant as a great meeting place.

8.  Clean.  Yes every restaurant should be clean.  In the front of the house and in the back of the house.  I recently went to a Sushi restaurant that looked like nothing had been done to it in 10 years or more.  The booths were set up so that it was probably difficult to clean them well even if they tried.  If a restaurant gets to that point it should be renovated.  It was the ugliest decor I have seen in a long time and could have used a fresh coat of paint and a good scrub up.

9.  Ambience.  There are a few restaurants in the city that are so loud that you spend the whole night yelling at your dinner party guests.  Leaving a restaurant without a voice and a headache isn't a great experience.

10. Menus.  One of my pet peeves are menus that are impossible to read.  The Keg has beautiful mood lighting but it's so dark that you can barely read the menu.  Other menus have fonts so small that you need a magnifying glass to read them.  And there are others that don't have a clue on how to design a menu that makes it easy to disseminate.  Red writing on a purple background doesn't work, so don't do it.  A funky scribble font that is in a light 8 pt font is impossible to read if you are over 40.  Give your menus to some grandmothers and see if they can read them in the dark.  If they can then they are good to use.

There are a few great chefs in the city that are doing great meals that should be applauded.  They produce great tasting food and rank very high on all the points in this list but they don't hit all of them all the time.

My picks of great Toronto chefs include:

1. Lynn Crawford
2. Roger Mooking
3. The chef at Frank's Kitchen
4. J.P. Chalet
5. Mark McEwen
6. Donna Doeher
7. Jamie Kennedy
8. David Adjey
9. Brad Long
10. Michael Bonacini

There are tons of restaurants in this city but a lot of them could use a lot of improvement.  In a city full of foodies it seems that the food trucks have the right idea.  Make quick, fast, cheap, original and tasty food.  Isn't that what we all want?

Shaw Fill the Food Banks 2012

Food Banks Canada - About Hunger in Canada

Food Banks Canada - About Hunger in Canada

It's Hunger Awareness Week in Canada.  I just saw the doc Finding North about Hunger in the U.S.  but what about Canada.  People are underemployed or on disability or low income seniors who are struggling to get enough food to live on.  

My thought is that every politician should live on what someone who is living on a disability payment or is unemployed for a month to see what it's like before they make changes to policies that affect all these people.

If you don't know what it's like to live it you can't speak from experience when making decisions that affect thousands of people.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What is Food Security?

I went to see a film called FINDING NORTH at the Hot Docs Film Festival yesterday and it struck me that the term Food Insecurity is coming up a lot lately.  Why?  What is it? and how do we get rid of it?

Food security refers to the availability of food and one's access to it. A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation.

Food security is a problem that isn't a new problem it's just a new name for poverty and starvation.  People in the U.S. and ever growing in Canada don't have enough food to eat because they are losing their jobs or making minimum wage and don't have money left to buy food for their families.  In a nation of overabundance of wealth and food, how is it that people can be starving?  Well the answer doesn't lie in the families themselves it's in the whole government process from the top down.  We spend more money on gas/oil than we do on food.  People including myself waste as much food as they eat sometimes.  Junk food is subsidized by lobbyists lobbying for corn, wheat and etc commodoties because they can make money when the food turns into products that can be manufactured and distributed.

There are so many levels to the issue of Food Insecurity.

1. Families buy junk food to get by because it's cheaper.
2. Government agencies do not provide enough subsidies for food programs for kids and families.
3. Minimum wage does not provide a living wage for people to survive and thrive.
4. The lack of proper nutrition is causing the obesity epidemic to rise.
5. Because of the obesity epidemic people are developing diseases at younger ages and with more severity.
6. Proper food isn't available to low income neighbourhoods in some states.
7. Food that is available is heavily processed, or genetically modified so people aren't getting the proper nutrition to lead healthy lives.
8. People get stuck in the endless cycle of poverty because the system is broken and doesn't allow them to get healthy and have the opportunities to get ahead of the food game.
9. People don't know what to do to change the problem.
10. Something needs to be done before our 1st world countries end up like Third World Countries.

What can you do?  Help to change policies of governments by lobbying for things like raising minimum wages or lobbying for more money for food programs or for food stamps in the U.S.

But really the answer isn't in more charity it's in finding ways to help people help themselves.   People need to be educated and given opportunities to earn a living that will put food on the table and all people to live their lives in dignity and contribute to the world.  If all people are doing is focusing on ways to survive they are not thriving and not producing or contributing anything to build a nation.  Help give people an opportunity to focus on something other than how they are going to get food to eat.

Think of the changes that could be made in the World if people had enough food to eat and didn't have to work 2 jobs to survive.  Maybe they could cure Cancer or find ways to make wars dissapear.     Aren't wars usually caused by the Have's and Have not's?  Aren't they usually caused by resentment and anger.   Don't you ever get cranky and angry when you are hungry?  Imagine what it would be like if a Country wasn't hungry.  What could they do?

Personally I think the answer to some of these problems is to stop paying for military planes, weapons and missions and to put the money into education, healthcare and farmers and job creation.

We need to eat Real Food, be healthy and be educated to be able to have jobs to go to.

We need to find ways to eliminate the need for Food Banks and eliminate the word Food Insecurity in the coming years.

Do something to make a change.  Start a community garden, send a letter to a politician, help people that are struggling to survive by giving them an opportunity or a little help.

People are getting fatter and it's not because they are eating more it's because they are eating less and the over processed chemical laden foods they are surviving on is killing them.

If you have the power do something to make a change.

Do something on May 19th .  Start a Revolution.  Join Food Revolution Day and hep make a change.