Category Archives: Food Network Insider

woman looking at bottle in grocery store aisle, while wearing a face mask

Despite Being Home More, Canadians Are Only Slightly More Food Literate Than Pre-COVID

From dalgona coffee to sourdough to focaccia bread art, it may seem like Canadians are spending more time learning about food and getting creative in the kitchen, but a recent survey from Dalhousie University suggests that may not be true for most Canadians. 

In fact, the study from the university’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab seeking to determine if Canadians are any more food literate since the start of the pandemic found that we only have slightly greater understanding of how food choices impact our health, our community, the environment and the economy.

woman looking at bottle in grocery store aisle, while wearing a face mask

Being food literate means having the mindset, the knowledge and the related skills to make more informed decisions when navigating meal planning. Of the 10,004 Canadians surveyed, only about 40 per cent were able to explain what food literacy means.

Furthermore, mealtime at home during the pandemic may not be getting any easier, despite the greater amount of time people are spending at home; the report reveals that only 37.5 per cent of surveyed Canadians feel their meal planning skills improved during the pandemic.

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus What Canadians Can Do About It)

While cookbook sales might have spiked over the course of 2020, only 36 per cent of Canadians learned a new recipe and only about one-quarter (24 per cent) say they’ve made all of their meals. 

The study’s authors believe part of the reason may be the emotional and psychological toll the pandemic is exacting on home cooks

But there is some good news: slightly more than half (56 per cent) of the respondents shared they are making most of their meals since the pandemic began, while nearly half of those surveyed said they’ve tried a new ingredient, whether it be a spice (68 per cent), veggies (37 per cent) or oils (28 per cent).

The study’s lead author and director of the lab, Sylvain Charlebois, acknowledged that cooking is an act of empowerment that allows individuals to take control of what they eat. 

If you’re hoping to improve your own food literacy, here are some healthy meal prep ideas to get you through the week ahead

3 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This February

If you’re like us, all this time at home has been great for two reasons: it’s let us catch up on some of our favourite television, and has us spending way more time in the kitchen whipping up delicious eats (anyone else obsessed with that air fryer they got over the holidays?). The good news: that’s not about to change any time soon, as Food Network Canada has a delicious slate of new shows to dig into this month with STACKTV on Amazon Prime.

Project Bakeover

Who Should Watch:  Neighbourhood bakery lovers.

Steve Hodge and Tiffany Pratt on set for Project Bakeover

Pastry chef Steve Hodge (Great Chocolate Showdown) teams up with HGTV Canada star and the queen of colour Tiffany Pratt to help revamp down-and-out bakery owners’ businesses, breathing new energy (not to mention tasty goods) and beautiful design into their struggling shops.

Related: 5 Gorgeous Restaurants Designed by Tiffany Pratt

Supermarket Stakeout

Who Should Watch:  Savvy supermarket shoppers.

Alex Guarnaschelli is back for a third exciting season of this grocery store competition. Four chefs negotiate with shoppers to snag their groceries and make jaw-dropping themed dishes from the wares.

Host Alex Guarnaschelli portrait, as seen on Supermarket Stakeout, Season 3.

Great Chocolate Showdown

Who Should Watch:  Chocoholics of all ages.

Cynthia Stroud, Anna Olson and Steve Hodge return for the second season of sweet competition! Ten new talented bakers enter the competition ready to show off their chocolate-making and dessert-baking skills in order to take home the $50,000 grand prize.

Cynthia Stroud, Anna Olson and Steve Hodge on the set of Great Chocolate Showdown season 2

Related: Meet the Season 2 Bakers on Great Chocolate Showdown

Joshna Maharaj standing in a professional kitchen, holding an apple and smiling

Joshna Maharaj on Tackling Food Security, Inclusion in Canada’s Hospitality Industry + More

For an industry that celebrates multiculturalism, Canada’s hospitality and food-service sectors still have a long way to go when it comes to authentically reflecting the country’s diversity. Here is how chef, author and community activist Joshna Maharaj is working to change that, one meal at a time. 

Chef, author and community activist Joshna Maharaj standing in professional kitchen, holding an apple

Can you tell us about your work as a chef, author and food activist?

I’ve never been a restaurant chef and I’ve never been excited about being a restaurant chef. My work really focuses on the grassroots experiences of people. I do a lot of community food security work. For the last nine years, I’ve been working to rebuild food systems in public institutions. I’m sure you have some connection to institutional food — for example, either you’ve been in hospitals or someone you love has been in a hospital and you must have seen this sort of dismal offering. That needs some rethinking and some new priorities. This has been my focus.

What are the biggest diversity and inclusion gaps you see currently in the hospitality industry?

[The gaps] are mega and they exist from the micro-level to the macro-level. My friends and family have sort of giggled that I decided to jump into an industry predominantly populated by white guys. And it’s not even just that I went in there as a woman of colour to do this work, but that I decided I wanted to do this a completely different way. I would just hit a wall all the time… everything from the way we teach people to be a chef, to the actual on-the-ground experience that chefs have in the kitchens, it’s all about a white male standard.

One of the things that I hope to do before my last breath is to really untangle our culinary curriculum; I believe that right now, the way we are as cooks, the way we are as eaters, the current context of the culinary curriculum is really an instrument of colonization [based on a French standard]. So the gaps are many and they’re on a number of levels.

Example of a commonly-experienced fine dining experience with a server setting tables next to a window

How does this gap impact consumers? 

I think perhaps the most glaring example of this is how we understand fine dining and that restaurant experience. BIPOC chefs and cooks who are cooking food from their traditions — it seems as though there’s an expectation from eaters that the food of Brown people will continue to be cheap and available cheaply. There’s resistance to that connection [to fine dining] being made.

There’s a number of reasons why that’s a problem, but one of the great comparisons is a Chinese noodle dish versus an Italian pasta dish. Because you can get an Italian pasta dish for $25 for three ravioli and we’re cool with it. For an arguably more complex noodle dish, we won’t tolerate paying more than $9 for that. And it comes in a Styrofoam container and it’s cheap and it’s fast. We’ve really locked this model in and that perhaps is one of the biggest experiences that an eater has in all of this. Because they’re also complicit in this to some degree.

Chinese noodle dish in white bowl

But this idea that a European table is the fine dining table and kind of everything else is just trying to be “something.” The trickle down of that messaging can be super, super damaging.

These restaurants have lower average sales. They really are struggling because there’s no safety room — those margins are so, so narrow. The pandemic has just exasperated what has been a longstanding phenomenon.

Related: Metis Herbalist and Educator Lori Snyder on Urban Foraging and Food Sovereignty

How do racism and inequality translate into the food service and hospitality space? 

From the perspective of the BIPOC cook, that’s obviously the one I’m mostly connected to, I know the biggest frustrations are about being taken seriously. What am I going to do? How am I going to grow? Do I need to get the endorsement of some white person to come in so that people see that light face and then get excited about paying more money for this food?

From the perspective of the eater, eaters are just a bit clued out and they get a bit frustrated themselves about not really knowing how to navigate all of this.

Related: 10 Facts That Will Shock You About Racial Injustice in Canada

What local businesses or organizations are doing it right in this space? 

Some of our non-profit organizations are really leading the way. FoodShare and The Stop are two that are really pushing this conversation forward. Because I come from a grassroots community food security background, it really is meaningful to me that this conversation is happening there. There needs to be a really radical shift in our understanding around privilege, particularly when we talk about food security and vulnerable people, poverty, social assistance, you know, all that kind of rolls in, because BIPOC people are disproportionately affected and finding themselves in a line at a food bank or a dining car.

I think that as an industry, we could learn a lot by paying more attention to grassroots organizations. There’s a bit more connection to justice there. We are in a moment right now where we have a chance to rebuild [hospitality and food service] and we really have a very cool opportunity to see the way grassroots food organizations are doing things.

And if our restaurant vibe looked a little bit more like our community food security vibe, I would be very, very happy to see that… this sort of radical inclusion and accessibility… everything from how dining rooms are set up to how buildings are built to how you build menus so that they are as inclusive as possible while still [serving] locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Hospitality is ultimately about maintaining people’s dignity.

Related: Ren Navarro on Diversity in the Beer Industry – and How Companies Can Improve

What could the average consumer do to help support greater diversity in the food-service industry? 

Some self-reflection and awareness are the first step, because not everybody has money to give financial support. I do think a lot of the challenges exist in our attitudes.

Take a look at the landscape around you and take a look at the restaurants. Take a look at how you understand prices on the menu and what you see when you see a $25 dish. And then, if you’re able, seek out BIPOC-owned restaurants and really think about under-accessed spots.

Related: A Haitian Chef Reveals the Secret Ingredient to His Toronto Restaurant’s Success (Even During COVID)

If everybody just paused for a moment, took a few deep breaths and confronted their own attitudes about where they are willing to spend their money and how they understand just who is a chef — who looks like a chef — very often this [describing herself] is not the image that comes up when they imagine the chef.

(Editor’s Note: If you question that, just try doing a Google image search on the word “chef” yourself and see the images that come up for you).

What are you personally looking forward to in the food-service space?

We have a beautifully emerging population of Black farmers in and around the city, which is super exciting to see. Organizations like FoodShare are actually working to make the product of that work accessible to people; they have a social justice Good Food Box with food sourced exclusively from Black-owned farms or Black-led farms. And those are the changes we can affect with our purchasing to be more supportive.

Fresh food in cardboard box

I’m actually really, really hopeful that there’s a renewed appreciation and a valuing of all of the elements in our food system, from farmers to cooks to the people who drive the trucks in-between. I’d hope [consumers] can really appreciate that this food system exists so we have a broader, more accurate understanding of what it takes to make that happen. This was an industry that was wholeheartedly taken for granted, but we also have a wonderful opportunity to rethink it.

Related: Ranking Canadian Retailers Offering Grocery Delivery Right Now, by Price

Can you tell us a bit more about your book Take Back the Tray?

Take Back the Tray book coverTake Back the Tray is half-story and half-narrative about my work in overhauling three major institutions’ food systems: two hospitals and a university. Hopefully, it also provides some solid marching orders for change. I want a blueprint for the revolution as well as a compelling story. It really identifies the weakest of the failings of the industrial food system and our reliance on it. Our collective deprioritization of food has really resulted in some solidly damaging impacts to our lives, the planet and our economy. But there’s a very viable, delicious, chewy way forward. I am very excited about that.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Photo of Joshna Maharaj courtesy of Joshna Maharaj; food box photo courtesy of Getty Images; book photo courtesy of ECW Press; remaining photos courtesy of Unsplash

Host Jeff Mauro appears, as seen on Kitchen Crash, Season 1.

5 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This January

Here’s a resolution: watch more of the most delicious, drool-worthy shows to inspire you in the kitchen in 2021 (and beyond). Ring in the new year with a slew of new Food Network Canada series that you can binge-watch now with STACKTV on Amazon Prime. Ready to bid adieu to 2020 and hone your cooking skills in the year ahead? Read (and watch) on.

Kitchen Crash

Who Should Watch: The family who grocery shops together.

Host Jeff Mauro appears, as seen on Kitchen Crash, Season 1.

Jeff Mauro (The Kitchen) arrives in unsuspecting neighbourhoods to put chefs to the ultimate grocery showdown. Chefs are challenged to ambush real family homes and have a cookout right in the middle of the street. The winning chef achieves bragging rights (and a cash prize to split with the family whose pantry they raided!).

Big Food Bucket List

Who Should Watch: Supporters of local restaurants.

John Catucci watches as a restaurant patron takes a big bite of a pizza dish

John Catucci returns for all-new episodes of the most delicious and hilarious channel show. From Orlando, Florida to Hamilton, Ontario, John is leaving no stone unturned and trying all the delicious joints on his bucket list.

Related: Big Food Bucket List Restaurants That Offer Takeout Now

Kids Baking Championship

Who Should Watch: Little bakers, and the ones who love them.

Wideshot of Bella, Miabella, Haylin, Nemo, Keaton, Trey, Cydney, Mckenzly, Andrew, D'von, Namiah, Jonah racing to pantry, as seen on Kids Baking Championship, Season 9.

Duff Goldman and Valerie Bertinelli return for an all-new season of the exciting baking competition. Child prodigy bakers compete in a series of challenges to prove that they have the baking chops to be named the baking champion.

See More: Ree Drummond’s Very Best Dinner Recipes for Kids

Chopped $50,000 Champs Challenge

Who Should Watch: Couch culinary critics.

Contestants Brittany Rescigno, Gregory Headen, Fernanda Tapia, and Cory Oppold prepare to open their appetizer baskets during the Champions Tournament, as seen on Chopped, Season 45.

Former Chopped champions return to compete once more! It’s a battle of racing clocks and mystery basket curveballs as the best of the best compete to win a whopping $50,000.

Delicious Miss Brown

Who Should Watch: Anyone whose new year resolution is to cook more!

Miss Kardea Brown plates her Steakhouse Burger with frizzled onion, thick cut bacon, tomato and blue cheese dressing, as seen on Delicious Miss Brown, Season 3.

Caterer and cook Kardea Brown is whipping up Southern comfort food and sharing her recipes with you. Many of her recipes pay homage to her Gullah heritage (a distinct group of African Americans living in the Lowcountry region), inspired by recipes from her mother and grandmother. One thing is certain – when you’re in Miss Brown’s kitchen, there are sure to be some delicious eats!

Related: Easy, Comforting Recipes From Delicious Miss Brown

Person wearing rubber gloves holding veggies at grocery store

Food Insecurity During COVID-19 Linked to Poor Mental Health, According to Statistics Canada

In a new report released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday, Canadians who were worried about having enough food during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring were more likely to view their mental health as poor compared to those who were not.

“Food insecurity in itself can be a stressful experience,” said Heather Gilmour, Statistics Canada analyst and report co-author. “So associated with that can be feelings of frustration or powerlessness or even shame — and those kinds of feelings could trigger existing psychological problems or amplify existing ones or trigger new ones.”

Person wearing rubber gloves holding veggies at grocery store

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus What Canadians Can Do About It)

The Statistics Canada report said 14.6 per cent of the respondents to the May 2020 survey experienced food insecurity within the previous 30 days. One in five survey respondents to the survey also perceived their mental health as fair or poor or reported moderate or severe anxiety symptoms.

“We did find that, yes, food insecurity was associated with higher odds or higher risk of having either anxiety symptoms or poor self-recorded mental health,” Gilmour said. “That seemed to increase, that risk increased, the greater the food insecurity that people experienced.”

Related: Best and Worst Foods for Your Mental Health and Wellness

According to Statistics Canada, this study is the first to examine the link between food insecurity and self-perceived mental health symptoms among Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Host Kristin Chenoweth, as seen on Candyland, Season 1.

5 New Releases to Watch on STACKTV with Amazon Prime This December

The holidays are one of the most delicious times of the year – and while 2020 is making us reimagine typical festive traditions, you can always count on Food Network Canada as a source of inspiration, no matter what you’re craving. Here, we’ve rounded up an all-new selection of holiday shows featuring your favourite faces and enough delectable recipes to fill your stockings twice, plus classic shows that you’ll love watching any time of the year! Watch Food Network Canada on STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels all December long.

Buddy vs Christmas

Who Should Watch: The family whose Christmas tree has been up and decorated since November

Team Buddy featuring Buddy Valastro, as seen on Buddy vs Christmas, Season 1.

Fan favourite Buddy Valastro returns for a brand new competition, this one decidedly more nice than naughty. It’s a completely new side of Buddy, as he’s pushed outside of his cake-creating comfort zone to compete against talented artists and design magical, holiday-inspired creations.

Related: Cakes, Cookies or Pies? Buddy Valastro Reveals His Ultimate Holiday Treat

Feasting With the Stars

Who Should Watch: Anyone missing big holiday get-togethers with family and friends

Geoffrey Zakarian, along with his family and celebrity friends, is sharing his treasured traditions and festive recipes with you in this one-hour special that’s the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

Restaurant Impossible: Revisited

Who Should Watch: Restaurant renovation aficionados

Robert speaks with Jennifer Kerzie outside of the restaurant, as seen on Season 17 of Restaurant Impossible

In these special episodes, host Robert Irvine heads back to previously visited failing restaurants to check in with the owners and discover their progress since the initial visit and see how things have changed.

See More: 20 Canadian Food Causes That Need Your Help This Holiday Season

Candy Land

Who Should Watch: Nostalgic board game lovers

Host Kristin Chenoweth, as seen on Candyland, Season 1.

The classic board game is brought to life in Candy Land, hosted by Kristen Chenoweth! Competitors travel around the board, plucking ingredients straight out of the game and building their sweet masterpieces along the way. You’ll be transported directly into a childhood fantasy with this sweet new series.

Christmas Cookie Challenge

Who Should Watch: Santa’s cookie bakers

Wide view of Host Ree Drummond and Host Eddie Jackson, as seen on Christmas Cookie Challenge, Season 4.

Eddie Jackson and Ree Drummond are back hosting a new season of this sweet competition. In each episode, five bakers compete to find out if their holiday cookie-making skills are worthy of Santa’s nice list (plus a cool $10,000 prize).

Related: From Bakers to Grill Masters, Holiday Gifts Perfect for the Food Lover in Your Life

An overhead show of sliced marbled banana bread

Why We’re Drawn to Comfort Baking in Times of Stress, According to a Psychologist

If we could sum up our collective baking experience in 2020, it would boil down to two words: banana bread.

When the global pandemic first upended our everyday lives back in March, many of us turned to baking. It didn’t matter whether or not we were seasoned pros, we all seemed to crave the baked goods we cherished as kids. (Think: cookies, muffins, bread and pies). There was something comforting about the familiar smells and tastes — and it had many of us resorting to a form of culinary therapy in a time of uncertainty. You couldn’t scroll through your Instagram feed without coming across dozens of bread loaves conjured up by even the unlikeliest bakers in your friend group.

Get the recipe for Healthy Marbled Banana Bread

So, what gives? Why now, in the midst of the second wave of COVID-19,  have we once again turned to baking — albeit with a distinct holiday sparkle this time around. As it turns out, our desire to bake when the going gets tough actually has deep psychological roots that can be traced back to our childhood.

Dr. Brent Macdonald, of the Macdonald Psychology Group in Calgary, has more than 20 years of experience in the field — and is more than familiar with the various intricacies of the human brain when it comes to food associations.

Related: Our Fave Food Trends to Come Out of Quarantine, From Pancake Cereal to Bread Art

“[Baking or cooking] can remind you of the positive experience of sharing it with family, of being cared for and comforted as children — and that same emotional transference happens in adults,” he explains. “The smell, the taste, the texture, the experience of eating something that brought you pleasure as a child brings up all those positive emotions of comfort and warmth.”

As Macdonald notes, it’s no mere coincidence that we seek out these familiar foods in times of strife. For many, it’s a form of mindfulness — even if we don’t realize it. “We tend not to have [comfort food] when we’re doing well — we typically have it when we’re feeling stressed. That’s our medicine, in a sense,” he says. “The good thing about it is that it works — comfort food and comfort baking makes us feel better. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing — we shouldn’t feel shame or embarrassment that we have comfort foods we enjoy. It kind of gets a bad rap because of its association with sugars and carbohydrates — and fair enough. But once in awhile, treats are treats for a reason.”

Get the recipe for Fudgiest Sweet Potato Brownies

But given this whirlwind year where many have faced significant social and professional upheavals, Macdonald says it’s still important to take note of how consuming these baked goods makes you feel — aside from sentimental reminders of Grandma’s kitchen.

“Does [comfort baking] make you feel good and just feel good? Or does it make you feel good temporarily, masking some really unpleasant emotions that come back immediately once you stop eating? Because that’s an unhealthy pattern,” Macdonald says.

So, what’s the actual science behind this feel-good attachment we have to baking? Over the years, researchers have shown evidence that the act of baking triggers various parts of our brain, including the amygdala (the part of our brain where emotions are given meaning) and the hippocampal cortex (memory retrieval) which can ultimately help us reduce stress and anxiety. Therefore, a simple scent — vanilla or melted butter — can take us back to the relative safety and comfort of our childhood, thus inspiring in us the desire to recreate the recipes we indulged in during our “stress-free” younger years.

Get the recipe for Perfect Fermented Sourdough Bread

And with certain scents you can almost feel the power of those neuroreceptors firing off, Macdonald says. “We start to drool, to salivate, as our body prepares to ingest the food. It’s similar to people who have nicotine cravings. All of those things set off an anticipatory response that is waiting for that intake.”

So, with the holiday season upon us and no sign of COVID-19 abating before the end of this strange year, indulge in a little feel-good baking — whether you’re a novice or pro. After all, it’s one of the most budget-friendly therapeutic activities you can engage in — and the end result tastes delicious. Happy baking!

Try your hand at these classic Christmas cookies that will spread holiday cheer or these bountiful bread pudding recipes you’ll make over and over.

Host Raven Simone, as seen on Holiday Wars, Season 2.

5 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This November

As the leaves fade and the days get shorter, it’s the perfect time to slip into your favourite cozy sweater, grab a warm fall beverage and your snacks of choice (bonus points if they’re homemade!) and pop on these Food Network shows to watch on-demand. With brand new seasons and holiday favourites returning, it’s a delicious time to tune into Food Network Canada on STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels. Here are the new releases we’ll be watching for plenty of baking inspiration all November long.

Holiday Baking Championship

Who Should Watch: Holiday Sweets Lovers

Portrait of Nancy Fuller, Carla Hall and Duff Goldman, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 7.

Your favourite holiday-themed baking competition is back for the festive season, and it’s set to be one of the most delicious gifts of the year. Host Jesse Palmer is joined by Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and Carla Hall to judge the seasonal concoctions baked up by new talented home cooks.

Related: Meet the Season 7 Bakers Competing on Holiday Baking Championship

Carnival Eats

Who Should Watch: Cold Weather Haters

Host Noah Cappe takes a bite of a sweet corn dog on the set of Carnival Eats season 8

If you’re the first person to hop on a plane somewhere warm as soon as the cold weather hits, we have a 2020 workaround: take a trip without leaving your couch with Carnival Eats. Catch Noah Cappe sampling  indulgent fairground fare and midway favourites that will transport you right back to blissful summer days. Take it one step further and make one of these tropical desserts while you watch.

See More: Watch a Sneak Peek of the New Season of Carnival Eats

Holiday Wars

Who Should Watch: Foodie Families

Host Raven Simone, as seen on Holiday Wars, Season 2.

New season, new host! Raven Symone (of That’s So Raven fame) welcomes new teams of cake masters and sugar artists to battle it out by creating over-the-top edible holiday-themed displays in the Holiday Wars kitchen.

Good Eats: Reloaded

Who Should Watch: Culinary Scientists

Good Eats: Reloaded host Alton Brown holds up a bowl of his finished Hard Not-Boiled Eggs in the episode “The Egg Files: The Reload.”

Alton Brown is back, and he’s reinventing classic episodes of Good Eats for our viewing pleasure. This season, Alton reloads classic foods, from eggs and oats to pot roast and steak, delivering new, extra-appetizing ways to enjoy his recipes from the past. Get ready to seriously geek out on food with the return of this show!

Related: Your New Favourite Recipes From Good Eats: Reloaded

Girl Meets Farm

Who Should Watch: Baking Enthusiasts

Host Molly Yeh, with her 1 Skillet Chicken with Spring Vegetables, as seen on Girl Meets Farm, Season 5.

Blogger turned cookbook author and Food Network host Molly Yeh takes inspiration from her Chinese and Jewish heritage to make delicious treats for every occasion. From gorgeous sprinkle-laden desserts to savoury dinner recipes to creative breakfast ideas, Molly develops memorable recipes that everyone in your life will happily devour.

See More: 20 Gorgeous Desserts From Molly Yeh That Deserve a Standing Ovation

Metis Herbalist and Educator Lori Snyder on Urban Foraging and Food Sovereignty

If you seek to better understand urban foraging, in all its intricacies, Metis herbalist and educator Lori Snyder can show you the path.

But when it comes to urban foraging, what exactly is on the menu? Think: wild plants and weeds growing in the city or suburbs that you could easily come across while out for a stroll.

“We need to be mindful of creating foraging corridors in our cities,” Snyder explains. “How can we be put all this really fantastic food and medicine in our backyards, back alleys, schoolyards and on the edges of parks? We could be growing tons of food that would also benefit insects, birds and other creatures. You have to reconsider what is in your garden that you didn’t realize you could eat, like dandelions and horsetail — stuff we think of as weeds, but our ancestors ate.”

While Snyder points out that there are some potent plants that could do major damage if you’re unfamiliar with them, the majority of the edible and medicinal ones can be found in city parks and right outside our front doors — and each comes with its own unique flavour and texture that we should teach ourselves to acclimate to.

“We’re all about sweetness and the sugar and why is that?,” she muses. “It’s probably because we’re not cultivating enough sweetness in our life. Very gently I remind people that sugar is a colonized food — it actually has a horrible history involving slavery. So here we are eating this part of history that is really very dark. So now I educate my palate about different flavours that aren’t so common in our diet, but were common in our diet once because they’re the wild foods our ancestors ate.”

We recently chatted with Snyder about her urban foraging journey, the meaning of food sovereignty and the one woman who influenced her life’s work.

Related: The Dark Side of Trendy Superfoods (and What You Can Do to Help)

Tell us about the path that led to your journey as an herbalist and educator.

I was born and raised in Squamish, just outside of Vancouver. Where my parents built their house was the beginning of a housing development and behind our home was an incredible forest. We had all kinds of wild animals coming into our yard – like bears and stags. Our next door neighbours who bought the lot beside us were Danish and Irish. My sense of Mrs. [Maude] Bruun, because she was from Ireland, was that she didn’t know the plants that were growing here on this continent. What she would do is walk us kids up through the back trails and introduce us to the cottonwood tree, the salmonberry, the miner’s lettuce, the birch tree — all the incredible species and diversity of plants that grow in this part of the world.

When I do teachings I’m always sharing more pathways for people to discover. [The documentary] My Octopus Teacher shows us that the world around us is always in service of teaching us how to be as two-leggeds. What I’m seeing is that we have moved away from our true way of being on the planet. So I’m really grateful for Mrs. Bruun for imprinting that introduction. Once we start to learn to identify plants and other creatures, we get more curious and want to learn more about them. Once I get to know who they are [the plants], then it’s about ‘can I eat you or use you for medicine?’ Although I don’t like that word ‘use’ — it’s more ‘how can I get in relationship with you so that I can honour the gifts you bring.’

In Indigenous cultures, we didn’t have anything written — it was all oral. It was about using all of our senses so that we understood the world. I didn’t grow up knowing about my Metis history and ancestry. We could ask our own selves, how have I been colonized away from this deep relationship my ancestors have carried since the beginning of time? We’re talking about urban foraging — the reason that is starting to happen [more often now] is because we’re getting more curious [about the land we live on]. It’s either ego-centric or eco-centric. That’s what we’ve been – we’ve been so self-absorbed and distracted by entertainment that we haven’t even noticed someone has been cutting down the forest behind us.

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

What are some common cross-Canada plants that are edible and/or medicinal that many of us aren’t even aware of?

Stinging Nettles [pictured above] are an amazing plant. They are hard to find in Vancouver because we get rid of it — because people think it stings and it’s a weed. But when you take the time to learn about her you realize she’s a superfood. It’s got tons of vitamins and minerals — and it’s so delicious when you cook her, it’s unbelievable. You can get fibres made with her, you can harvest the seeds and it’s considered an adaptogen. It’s also great for the prostate gland and inflammation – and this is just a snapshot of what she can do. The other piece that is so important is that she’s a host plant for five different species of butterfly here in this region. When we don’t [take the time to] understand the native plants, we destroy their habitat.  [Stinging nettle] tastes earthy and woodsy. It’s such a unique flavour.

Saskatoon/Serviceberry we can find across the country. [They resemble blueberries and are both sweet and nutty like almonds in flavour. They’re also high in fibre, protein and antioxidants.]

Strawberries – oh my goodness, what an incredible medicine they are! They help regulate our menstruation — they’re good for cramping. What are us women taking? We’re taking pharmaceuticals which can be hugely detrimental to our health and can have side effects, but can also stay in the body because so many of them are fat-based. Plants are water-soluble, so they move through the body.

Purslane is [a green, leafy vegetable] like a succulent and it’s crunchy. It’s so good for the brain and, of course, there are a ton of vitamins and minerals.

Oxeye Daisy — her leaf is out of this world [delicious] and indescribable. To be able to add her to your salads [or desserts]  would be amazing. The weeds outside our door just offer so much.

Rosehips — now here’s a plant people could be looking for right now all across the continent. [pictured above] They’re abundant, go harvest them. They are beautiful and high in vitamin C, iron and zinc. There’s your coffee right there — a nice stimulus that is good for the heart and good for the muscles and repairing collagen. And she taste beautiful as tea, syrup, jelly or jam.

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus, What Canadians Can Do About It)

Can you speak to food sovereignty and its link to injustice in the food system?

Food sovereignty appears to me to be political in its design. When you kill off all the buffalo or chop down the forest you impact Indigenous communities’ ability to feed themselves. We are not children asking for handouts. We are strong, capable people who can feed ourselves as we have done prior to the arrival of a new order. We see this tactic again and again all over the planet. All people need to take back their responsibility in their relationship to the land which feeds and nourishes us. We might consider growing our own foods, sharing the bounty, saving the seeds, teaching our children this ancient art of growing food. Not only do we grow food, but we grow a living ecosystem around us that feeds all life. Let’s deal ourselves back into the web of life and drastically reduce our food footprint by transporting food all over the planet. We can do this — take the power back and have sovereignty again for all nations all over the planet.

I don’t want anyone having power over me. I want my autonomy. I want sovereignty in how I’m eating, I want sovereignty in the choices I make. I don’t want to be a consumer, I want to be a citizen. We are consuming because we think we’re not enough. We are the ones we have been waiting for. Let’s wake up, my friends.

Related: Vegetable Garden Planners to Help You Grow All Year Round

What is the biggest takeaway you hope people have from your work?

We’ve been colonized away from nature and for us to really cultivate our reverence and gratitude and know that we’re just part of the web, I have this responsibility. I’ve had people tell me they look at the plants everywhere they walk now… that they’re seeing the world differently now… and of course it sets them on a culinary exploration. It opens you up to all these amazing possibilities.

Want to learn more about plants and urban foraging? Lori Snyder recommends:

The book called Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The braiding of sweetgrass involves three strands — scientific knowledge, Indigenous ways of knowing and plant wisdom. [Kimmerer] refers to the plants and animals as our older brothers and sisters which, to me, makes complete sense because they were here before we ever arrived. If we look at Indigenous ways of knowing, so much of that comes from the land and the animals.

There’s also a beautiful book called The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival by Katrina Blair. Wild weeds are essential for our human survival. I take so much [knowledge] from others that are sharing this important way of being.

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

Photo of Lori Snyder courtesy of Belinda White at Apple Star Photo; plant photos courtesy of Getty Images

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy through links in this article, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Host, Alyson, with judges, Terri and Ray, as seen on Outrageous Pumpkins, season 1.

The 5 Best New Shows to Watch on Amazon Prime in October

While October may not be the first month that comes to mind when thinking about the most delectable times of year, we’d like to make a case for why it’s one of our favourite months for food-loving television junkies. With a packed schedule full of your Spookylicious favourites, plus new crave-worthy Canadian series, it’s a very good time to tune into Food Network Canada on STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels. Here are the shows we’ll be glued to all month long, and why you shouldn’t miss them!

Halloween Baking Championship

Who Should Watch: Baking Fanatics

Carla Hall on the set of Halloween Baking Championship

It’s the ultimate baking competition, with a spooky twist! Hosted by Carla Hall (Top Chef, The Chew),  talented bakers from across North America compete to create Halloween-themed baked goods that are scarily delicious.

Related: Meet the Season 6 Bakers on Halloween Baking Championship

Big Food Bucket List

Who Should Watch: Social Media Foodies

John Catucci laughing with a chef making smoked pork ribs

Are you missing dining out and feeling the foodie FOMO? Do you crave discovering local gems and trying out the must-eat offers before the rest of your friends? Then tune into this series where John Catucci (You Gotta Eat Here!) is back and exploring the bucket list-worthy spots across North America. He’s taking you into the kitchens to see how all the drool-worthy dishes are made.

See More: Explore the Restaurants From Big Food Bucket List

Big Time Bake

Who Should Watch: Competitive Cooks

Buddy Valastro on the set of Big Time Bake

Buddy Valastro (Buddy vs. Duff) is back with an all-new series, and this time he’s behind the judging table! In this adrenaline-pumping baking competition, bakers are given six hours to create a show-stopping cake. The catch? It’s a nonstop competition in the kitchen.

Related: The Evolution of Buddy Valastro: From Cake Boss to Buddy vs. Duff

Outrageous Pumpkins

Who Should Watch: DIY Lovers

Get ready to be astounded and inspired! Seven expert carvers compete to create the haunting and life-like Halloween rendering, all using pumpkins. Hosted by Alyson Hannigan (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), this four-part series is for more than just food lovers as the fantastic creations are spooky works of art that will delight all.

Related: 40+ Perfect Pumpkin Desserts to Make Your Fall Menu Sweeter

Wall of Chefs

Who Should Watch: Home Cooks Seeking Inspiration

"The Wall" on Wall of Chefs

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to cook in front of one of your culinary heroes? What about an entire panel of the most inspiring cooks across the country? That’s what the home cooks are up against as they do culinary battle in front of “The Wall” in order to win $10,000 and some serious bragging rights!

Related: The Best Expert Cooking Tips From “The Wall” (Take Note!)

The Dark Side of Trendy Superfoods (and What You Can Do to Help)

Superfoods are (typically) plant-based, nutrient-dense foods that contain antioxidants, healthy fats, fibre and a slew of other vitamins and minerals. The superfoods list is pretty expansive and ranges from blueberries and salmon to Greek yogurt, beans and whole grains. Basically they’re foods that max out on the nutritional benefits while minimizing overall caloric intake. So what’s the problem? Well as it turns out, there’s a pretty dark side to some of these superfoods and they can come with all kinds of surprising ethical, economic and cultural side effects. This is particularly noteworthy when superfoods become trendy (avocado toast anyone?), resulting in a large supply and demand. Let’s take a look.

Kale

Kale chips and salad may have decreased in popularity over the past few years, but the leafy green continues to top many superfood lists. If you continue to add it to your plate, then where you get it matters. A large amount of kale is grown on the United States’ West Coast and shipped to Canada via truck, which has a pretty significant environmental impact. Ecologists at Cornell University estimate that to grow, wash, package, transport and keep one pound of the greens chilled for that journey requires 4,600 calories of fossil fuel energy. That packs a pretty big environmental impact.

What you can do: Pay attention to where your greens come from and try to buy local. Kale is one of the easiest vegetables to grow during a Canadian summer, so you could also consider planting your own and eating it in season.

Avocado

Avocado toast, guacamole, sushi… there are so many delicious ways to enjoy this creamy green fruit, which is often referred to as nature’s mayonnaise. It’s no wonder that avocados have become a staple at produce sections across the country. At first, the farmers in Michoacán, Mexico — one of the only places on Earth where avocados can grow year-round — were fans of the growing trend. But then the cartels caught on, who have been extorting the farmers — as well as the sellers of fertilizer and pesticides — ever since. Some farmers who have been unwilling to cooperate have allegedly been attacked or killed.

What you can do: You can do your best to buy avocados that operate outside cartel influence. Alternatively, you can pay attention to the California growing schedule and buy avocados when they’re in season — typically from spring to summer.

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus What Canadians Can Do About It)

Quinoa

Quinoa is high in protein and quite filling, which has made this grain a staple in vegetarian and vegan plates for years now. Unfortunately, quinoa’s growing popularity has spelled disaster for many farmers in South America where it hails — typically in Peru and Bolivia. There, farmers used to cycle their crops with the help of llamas and other animals. But in order to meet growing demand they have sold off their livestock and invested in farming equipment instead, which has resulted in decreased soil fertility. Also, as demand for quinoa grew worldwide, it tripled in price and became too expensive for the locals who have long relied on it as their main source of food. The situation has improved in recent years as countries like Australia, the United States and Canada have found ways to grow it locally.

What you can do: There is ongoing debate as to whether it is better: to buy local and help keep food costs down or to buy from the Andes and invest in the farmers there whose livelihoods depend on production. While there are points for each side, the main consensus seems to be that if you are going to indulge in a bowl of quinoa, ensure that it is certified fair trade.

Coconuts

Health experts still seem to be divided as to whether coconuts (including coconut oil, milk and water) is actually a superfood or a hidden source of fat. If you do incorporate coconuts into your diet though, you should consider how they’re sourced. There are many countries that train and use young pig-tailed macaque monkeys to pick coconuts for production, since the animals are able to harvest up to 1,600 coconuts daily — way more than humans ever could. As a result there have been many allegations of animal mistreatment and abuse in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

What you can do: Make sure to educate yourself on where your coconuts are coming from. PETA has a handy list of offenders, as well as companies that have severed ties with producers that use monkeys for their harvest.

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

Cacao

Chocolate as a superfood? Um, yes please. Who doesn’t love knowing that a sweet treat could actually be good for them? Cacao — AKA the raw, unrefined pods that grow on cacao trees — is loaded with antioxidants, is the highest plant-based source of iron and is even a natural mood elevator. However, our love for all things chocolate (sweetened or otherwise) has led to some serious deforestation problems in countries like the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Ghana, where producers are clearing forests to make room for new crops. Poverty for underpaid farmers is also an issue and they often turn to child labour or slavery as a result.

What you can do: Read the labels and do your research. Major chocolate brands have taken positive steps in the past few years to source ethical cacao. But in order to really ensure that you’re choosing with your heart, see if the company in question publishes an impact report on its website or if it uses third parties to certify any “ethical” trademarks. You can also advocate for change and take several other steps as outlined in this report.

Salmon

Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, salmon has long been linked to benefits like improved brain function and better neurological health. However there have been many reported problems over the years of unethically farmed fish being loaded up with potential chemicals, putting the “superfood” part of the fish in question. And as for the fresh stuff? Overfished waters are also a serious problem worldwide .

What you can do: Although some guidelines can be tricky to follow, try and stick to sustainably sourced salmon (and other fish and seafood) wherever possible in order to protect the species as a whole. And if you are consuming the farmed variety, the government of Canada recommends sticking to locally raised stocks from the Southern Coasts.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Cheyenne Sundance of Sundance Harvest

How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

Food is political and should be rooted in justice. That’s the message that’s at the core of the work of 23-year-old urban farmer Cheyenne Sundance.

Sundance Harvest, started by Cheyenne when she was just 21, was created based on a void she saw for farms operating in an ethical lens in the for-profit farming industry. “What farm would I want to see when I was younger? What farm would I want to work at and learn from? And I literally just created it from that,” she says of her Toronto-based urban farm.

Her farming career began after she turned 18 and worked on a socialist farm in Cuba. Working with many Afro-Indigenous and Black Cubans, she was introduced to the ideas of food justice and sovereignty. “Access to food is affected by someone’s health status, socioeconomic status. There’s data from U of T that correlates food insecurity and food injustice to Black and Indigenous people being the most systemically affected. So I started understanding those things and noticing these trends,” Cheyenne says.

Cheynne Sundance of Sundance Harvest holding up a box of greens

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus, What Canadians Can Do About It)

Can you tell us about how Sundance Harvest came about?

I could not find a farm that existed in Toronto with those same values, that also respected the workers, paid them a fair wage and was actually trying to further food justice.

I wasn’t really thinking so much about “Is this the most profitable farm?” because for Sundance Harvest, it’s my full-time job and has been for a year and a half, but I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just having a farm that exists in a vacuum. I want to have a farm that is planting the seeds and all these other small farms are grown from my farm and that’s why I started a program called Growing in the Margins as soon as I started Sundance Harvest.

I didn’t want to be a farm that relies on grants and I didn’t want Sundance Harvest to be a not-for-profit. I wanted to make sure my farm was profitable, so I have a CSA three seasons of the year and I also sell at farmers’ markets year-round.

Mentorship is at the core of your work. Can you tell us more about the farming education programs you’ve developed?

[On Growing in the Margins] It’s a free urban agriculture mentorship for youth who are BIPOC, queer, trans, two-spirit, non-binary and also youth with disabilities. Youth who are marginalized and low-income within the food system have the ability to take [the program] Growing in the Margins for free. They either want to start their own farm, have a career in urban agriculture or start their own food sovereignty movements and I teach them everything I know about the basics of starting a farm. Growing in the Margins is not for gardeners, because it’s primarily focused on mentorship.

[On Liberating Lawns] When COVID hit, the city of Toronto was not opening community gardens and I am part of a group that was trying to lobby to have them open them. If we hypothetically can’t get community gardens to open, what are ways that I can have people grow food? The easiest way is private land. Working with the city is like watching paint dry, so I decided to start Liberating Lawns, which basically matches up landholders with growers. My next intake is this fall, in September.

Related: 10 Facts That Will Shock You About Racial Injustice in Canada 

What are some of the challenges you faced with racism/sexism/ageism within the food system and how did you address them?

One is big corporate farms that operate on colonial and white supremacist ideals. There is a corporate farm in Toronto — also a couple of the non-profits — that is actively harming the food justice movement. It was so hard starting Sundance Harvest. Finding land and basically competing with corporate farms who have really wealthy investors and backers to help them get these large properties that I don’t have the privilege to because I don’t have those connections. I would also say corporate gentrification of urban farming in Toronto which exists and is happening very rapidly [and] is really scary because a lot of community land is turning into corporate farms, probably in the next couple years.

It makes it really hard for someone who’s in a position like I am, who does face intersectionality oppression. Because I have no wealthy parents, I have no investors, I don’t have a degree. I don’t really have anything to start my farm off of. What would really help in the future would be grants, subsidies and the city zoning for urban agriculture, because there’s currently no zoning for urban agriculture. One of the biggest hurdles was the total lack of support [from] the city. [Access to] land is also one of the biggest issues.

Sundance Harvest greenhouse

Related: Ren Navarro on Diversity in the Beer Industry – and How Companies Can Improve

What advice can you offer to Canadians interested in growing their own food?

One of the easiest ways to start gardening is to do container growing. [It’s] super easy and you don’t have to worry about making sure you have the right soil and if it’s draining enough because that’s a whole other issue.

For people who are Black or Indigenous, the best thing I can say is to reach out to other people who are Black and Indigenous or both in your area who are doing the work already because they’ll know who to connect, who to talk to, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked. I’ve found that creating a community has really helped me in expanding Sundance so quickly. I started Sundance Harvest a year ago. I doubled the size of my greenhouse to a production that is 2,600 square feet and bought a 2.5-acre farm. I’ve done all that in a year. It’s really helped me connecting and getting tips, because farming while Black, it takes a lot of lived experience to do it right.

What other actions can non-farming Canadians take in their everyday life?

The first and most obvious one is purchasing your produce from a CSA. It’s a produce box you get each week. When someone buys a CSA, they usually buy it in the springtime and what that does is gives the farmer money upfront to buy seeds and equipment. If you can purchase a CSA, it’s great to buy one from a POC. Purchasing from a CSA helps small farms — and the more small farms we have, the more youth that can be trained on those small farms and they’ll get experience and start their own.

The second is to look into your neighbourhood (or town or city) and see what’s being done about urban agriculture. If you can, volunteer at a local non-profit that does urban agriculture and ask them, “What would you like to be seeing?” Once you know that from the people that are in the industry, write to your MPs or your city councillors and say that you value urban agriculture.

Cheyenne Sundance with her leafy greens

What are your favourite crops to grow and why? Do you have a favourite recipe you make from your produce?

I’m going to say the easiest one – kale. Kale is the easiest crop to grow, same with Swiss chard. I like making a kale Caesar salad. I swap out Romaine for kale because it’s way more nutritionally-dense. You can marinate it overnight and have it as a cool dinner party dish. With Swiss chard, I love substituting it for lettuce in sandwiches because it has a thicker crunch.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Photos courtesy of Cheyenne Sundance

Ren Navarro in a diner

Ren Navarro on Diversity in the Beer Industry – and How Companies Can Improve

Ren Navarro loves beer. If you ask her to pin down one favourite, she can’t – there’s simply too many to choose from for a connoisseur such as herself. “That’s like seeing someone with multiple kids and asking them, ‘which is your favourite child?’,” she says with a laugh.

Like many people who enjoy a cold pint, the Kitchener, Ont. native prefers her beer options diverse – in flavour, appearance, aroma and mouthfeel. But she’s also at the forefront of change in the industry, pushing for more inclusion of diverse people in places where it’s lacking – mainly representation in breweries and in advertising. In an effort to kick start a larger national conversation, Navarro created Beer.Diversity. Launched in 2018, the company addresses the “lack of diversity in the Canadian beer industry” head-on while offering ways for the community to work together to make it more inclusive and approachable for people of colour, those in the LGBTQ+ community and beyond.

After a career as a sales rep for a renowned brewery, Navarro identified a sizeable gap in the industry and sought to fill it with people from a variety of backgrounds. She first co-founded the Toronto-based Society of Beer-Drinking Ladies (SOBDL), which was a smashing success, welcoming all female-identifying people who wanted to bond over brewskies (fun fact: it’s now the largest women-focused beer group in North America) before setting her sights on Beer.Diversity. We chatted with Navarro about her time working in the industry, the gradual changes in representation and how diversity of flavours can help the Canadian beer industry.

Photo: Racheal McCaig

Tell us a bit about your decision to place periods between “beer” and “diversity.”

“I talk about beer. Period. I talk about diversity. Period. I talk about the diversity in beer – all the different styles – and I talk about the diversity of beer, including all people and backgrounds [that are involved]. The name was dreamt up about two-and-a-half years ago, although the company is branching out – it’s not just beer anymore, but it’s too late to change the name and I have no idea what I’d change it to.” [laughs]

You’re on the frontline of change in this industry. What shifts have you seen so far with breweries regarding diversity – both the successes and challenges?

“I’ve been in the beer [industry] for seven-and-a-half years, which is why I’m so passionate about it. I don’t think you can be in beer for that long and be ‘meh’ about it. [When] I started there weren’t a lot of people who looked like me – there weren’t a lot of women, in general. Now we’re seeing more diversity – not just in terms of women or people of colour, but also those from different backgrounds such as Indigenous brewers, people with disabilities and older folks. I think we still have a far way to go, though, because it’s still only a small handful. You think about all the beer consumers and what they look like – we need to reflect that more within in the industry itself.”

Related: 10 Facts That Will Shock You About Racial Injustice in Canada 

How can Canadian breweries work towards the type of diversity you’re promoting and where do we go from here?

“I think it’s about education. We need to get to the point where we can show that it’s open to everyone. Representation always matters. Stop being so scared. There is this fear of the unknown or fear of being perceived as being fake. The more people you can welcome in, the better it’s going to do. Baby steps, but it’s happening.”

Ren Navarro in a diner

What changes are you seeing with representation for the LGBTQ+ community?

“There’s definitely more partnerships and community outreach – and it’s not just about Pride Month saying we should talk about this group of people. It’s become more about working together for a common goal. For a brewery, engaging more people means they will make more money, but it’s also about highlighting groups that don’t get the spotlight on a regular basis. Working with an LGBTQ+ community is win-win for everyone involved because people who didn’t think that they were welcome within the beer community learn that they are – and [in turn they] learn that they’ve got certain skills that are invaluable to the brewery [workforce].”

Related: LGBTQ+ Terms You Keep Hearing – and What They Mean

How can diversity help shape beer varieties and recipes?

“It happens when you start looking outside of the ‘norm.’ Think about all those fun beers that come out in the summer, like guava or pineapple-passion fruit. These are fruits that are known to certain groups. I’ve seen a passion fruit tree, but a lot of people haven’t. For me, that’s about being part of a Caribbean background – it’s about the acknowledgement that there are other flavours. It’s bridging that gap because a group of people that may not have thought they were welcome within the beer community are seeing things that they know as a regular, everyday [item]. I think seeing the diversity – and seeing that breweries are willing to make changes – leads to the inclusion of [even] more people.”

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus, What Canadians Can Do About It)

What’s your favourite Canadian craft beer or brewery?

“That’s like the hardest question ever. [laughs] Oh man, I love a lot of beer. I really love the things that Left Field are doing; they’re in Toronto. Muddy York, who is also in Toronto and Dominion City Brewing, which is in Ottawa – I think all three of them make fantastic beers, but they are also community-driven. For me, a lot of it is about ‘what does the brewery do [about diversity]’? You can make the best beer, but if you don’t interact with the community, it doesn’t matter. I know you asked which one is my favourite beer, but I’ll say all three of those.” [laughs]

This interview has been edited and condensed.

First photo courtesy of Racheal McCaig; second photo courtesy of Chris Thiessen/Toque Ltd.

Casting Call: Does Your Bakery Need a Makeover?

CALLING ALL BAKERIES IN NEED OF AN INTERVENTION

Is your bakery in need of fresh ideas to help pull in the dough?  Are your pastry sales a little stale right now?  Are you searching for that secret ingredient to help turn your bakery around?

See More: What is Bread Flour and 14 Other Baking Questions Answered

Food Network Canada’s new bakery makeover show is searching for great bakeries across the country that need a fresh direction.

Tell us why we should pick YOUR bakery for our show, and you could get the chance to spend a week with pastry chef Steve Hodge and  designer Tiffany Pratt. Steve is the mastermind behind Vancouver’s Temper Pastry and an expert judge on Great Chocolate Showdown, and Tiffany has designed residential and commercial spaces all over North America and has appeared on numerous HGTV Canada shows. Together, this talented duo will revamp your menu and your retail space to help you bolster your bottom line.

Related: 10 Things You Need to Know About Steven Hodge

Top priority will be given to bakeries that have real challenges to overcome, and a great story to share.

CLICK HERE TO APPLY

For more casting opportunities, check out the Food Network Canada casting page.

What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus What Canadians Can Do About It)

If you want to know what food insecurity is, Paul Taylor is the man to answer that question. He is the executive director of FoodShare, a Toronto-based non-profit that advocates that everyone have access to affordable, fresh and nutritious food. His personal experience has informed his life’s work: he was raised by a single mother on Ontario’s welfare system. He has worked as a teacher, in a Toronto homeless youth shelter and the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver. We chatted with Paul about what food insecurity is, the link between racism and food insecurity and how Canadians can take action.

What is food insecurity? And what does FoodShare do to work toward making change?

Food insecurity is inconsistent or uncertain access to food due to financial constraints. There are 4.4 million people living in food insecure households in Canada. It’s a problem that is only getting worse. Since the 1980s, Canada’s default response to food insecurity has been food banking and food-based charity. Instead of dealing with this growing public health crisis, a number of politicians seem to prefer photo-ops of sorting food at food charities, instead of sorting the policies that allow households to experience food insecurity.

At FoodShare, we recognize that we can’t position our work as a solution to wicked problems like food insecurity or poverty. FoodShare’s work includes working with communities across the city of Toronto to co-create community-led food assets, such as urban farms and fresh produce markets, but our work cannot solve food insecurity. We publicly acknowledge that reality, while also recognizing the potential impact that public policy can have on food insecurity. Disappointed with the provincial government’s decision to roll back the planned increase to minimum wage, FoodShare openly challenged the Premier to live on $14/hour for the remainder of his term. More and more food charities recognize the limited role that we can play in challenging food insecurity, so we continue to advocate for a political commitment followed by a public policy approach to address this crisis.

Can you explain the link between racism and food insecurity?

The research that we conducted in partnership with PROOF, an interdisciplinary research group, looks at food insecurity in Canada. We found that anti-Black racism had much more of an impact on who gets to eat than we had imagined.

To be Black in Canada means that you’re 3.5 times more likely to live in a food insecure household than if you’re white. We also found that while 12% of white children live in food insecure households, that skyrockets to 36% for Black children.

We also looked at home ownership, which has generally been understood to correlate with lower levels of food insecurity. Unfortunately, this is only true for white households. The percentage of Black homeowners experiencing food insecurity (14.5%) is almost equal to the percentage of white renters who experience food insecurity (14.3%).

The ubiquity of anti-Black racism doesn’t end there. When it comes to immigration status, it doesn’t matter if Black people are born in Canada or abroad — the risk of food insecurity remains consistently high.

Aggregate food insecurity statistics suggest that single parent households are more likely to experience food insecurity, but for Black households it doesn’t matter how many parents are in the home, there remains a significantly higher probability of food insecurity.

Related: 10 Facts That Will Shock You About Racial Injustice in Canada

How has food insecurity been impacted by COVID?

Physical distancing and other restrictions brought on by the pandemic meant that people needed to take fewer trips to the grocery store and began to stockpile food and toilet paper. Doing this was near impossible for those who were already food insecure. As the pandemic went on, we saw unprecedented job losses. All of these people suddenly had to figure out how they were going to afford to pay for rent and food.

At FoodShare we immediately pivoted so that we could deliver free Emergency Good Food Boxes filled with fresh produce to households across the city. We provided a $4/hour increase and additional paid sick days to all of the FoodShare staff involved in our pandemic response. We quickly partnered with 80 community-based groups to help identify people that were especially vulnerable. The free Good Food Boxes are being delivered to undocumented workers, survival sex workers and other individuals made vulnerable by our current system. So far we’ve provided over 26,000 free Good Food Boxes.

What is the biggest misconception people often make about food insecurity in our country?

Food insecurity will not be solved by casseroles made in community kitchens, the repurposing of two-legged carrots, donated cranberry sauce or even the current government approach of hopes and prayers. Food insecurity is an income issue that requires income based interventions. 62% of Canadians living in food insecure households derive their income from paid employment, which means that their jobs don’t lift them out of food insecurity, but instead trap them in it.

How can Canadians take action? How can we help?

You can donate (www.foodshare.net), order a Good Food Box online (it’ll be delivered straight to your home) and get involved in $15 and Fairness. We need to remind our elected officials that we have the right to food in Canada — and that it’s long overdue for food insecurity to be something that we talk about in our history books.

Related: Ranking Canadian Retailers Offering Grocery Delivery Right Now, by Price

What is one of your favourite things you’ve cooked from your Good Food Box delivery?

I’ve signed up for a weekly subscription of the Good Food Box and I’ve added on the whole-wheat sourdough bread and the organic fair trade coffee that we sell. My breakfasts are usually 100% inspired by the Good Food Box. Most recently I’ve been enjoying my oven-roasted tofu sandwich. I marinate the tofu for 24 hours in some Frank’s Hot Sauce, olive oil and smoked paprika. I roast it for 20 minutes and then throw it on some sourdough bread with sliced cucumbers, mayo, a slice of tomato and then stuff it with the living pea shoots that came in this week’s box. On the side, I chop up fresh carrot sticks and celery.

Related: 35 Sweet and Savoury Tofu Recipes for Every Meal

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Photo of Paul Taylor courtesy of Daniel Neuhaus; remaining photos courtesy of FoodShare

Every Food Network Canada Show You Can Binge Watch Right Now

As we settle in for an extended period of time at home, we’re brainstorming fun activities we can do in the comfort of our own abodes. One great way to relax? Binge-watching all your favourite Food Network Canada shows, of course. From Buddy vs. Duff to Top Chef Canada here are all the shows you can watch either on Foodnetwork.ca, STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels or the Global TV app. You can also check out Food Network Canada daily on TV with your cable package for delicious marathons that the whole family can enjoy.


And now, while Canadians are #HomeTogether, we’re inviting you to vote on your favourite binge-worthy series! Three fan-favourite series will compete for the #FanFavouriteFriday marathon spot each week. Check back each weekend and vote for your fave on @FoodNetworkCanada’s Twitter account. The winning series will air with back-to-back episodes the following Friday from 11AM to 7PM.

Vote all weekend and check back on Monday to see the winner. #FanFavouriteFriday runs on Food Network Canada until June 26.

Related: 20 Recipes to Master While Stuck Indoors, From Homemade Bread to Pickles

Watch Your Binge-Worthy Favourites on STACK TV or the Global TV App

Watch Food Network Canada Classics Online on Foodnetwork.ca

Related: Every HGTV Canada Show You Can Binge-Watch Right Now

 

Eddie Jackson's Pineapple Gochujang Short Ribs

Eddie Jackson’s Gochujang Short Ribs Are Your New All-Star Dish

Eddie Jackson’s sweet short ribs made with gochujang sauce and fresh pineapple make for easy entertaining, leaving you with more time to enjoy with your guests (and the big game!). Inspired by Koreatown tableside grilling, they are ready in a flash — and will be gone even faster!

Serve at your next gathering with other crowd-pleasing favourites from Game-Day Eats: 100 Recipes for Homegating Like a Pro.

Eddie Jackson's Pineapple Gochujang Short Ribs from Game Day Eats

Pineapple-Gochujang Short Ribs

Prep time: 5 minutes (plus 5 hours marinating and resting time)
Cook time: 5 minutes
Serves: 8-10

Ingredients: 

1 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
4 oz (about 115 g) fresh pineapple, roughly chopped
½ cup turbinado sugar
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 kiwi, peeled and roughly chopped
8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 (1-inch/2.5-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon gochujang
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 lbs flanken-style short ribs
Thinly sliced scallion, for serving

Directions: 

1. In a food processor, combine the soy sauce, pineapple, sugar, shallot, kiwi, garlic, ginger, gochujang, sesame oil, and black pepper. Pulse until the ingredients are combined and no large chunks remain.
2. Put the ribs into a large resealable plastic bag or large nonre­active bowl with an airtight lid. Pour the marinade over the ribs and massage it into the meat. Seal (or cover) and refrig­erate for at least 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature about 1 hour before grilling.
3. When ready to grill, prepare a grill for direct cooking (or set a grill pan over medium-high heat).
4. Grill the ribs until the meat is browned through, 2 to 3 min­utes per side, turning frequently. Top with the scallions and serve immediately.

Tip: Shake off any excess marinade before you grill the meat to prevent any flare-ups. Any leftover marinade can be brought to a boil until it reduces slightly and used as extra sauce for the ribs, if desired.

From the book GAME-DAY EATS: 100 Recipes for Homegating Like a Pro by Eddie Jackson. Copyright © 2019 by Eddie Jackson. Published on September 24, 2019 by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.

Marcus Samuelsson Talks His Foray Into the Montreal Food Scene

In terms of chefs with real world experience, it’s hard to beat Marcus Samuelsson. The Food Network personality has been a favourite with Canadian audiences for years thanks to his participation on series like Top Chef Canada, Chopped and Chopped Jr., and of course there was his win on the second season of Top Chef Masters, when he bested Canada’s own Susur Lee.

So we were all giddy when he learned last fall that Samuelsson was prepping to open his first-ever Canadian eatery, Marcus Restaurant + Terrace, which officially launched this past May at the Four Seasons in Montreal alongside Marcus Lounge + Bar.

“I love the Montreal food scene, everything from Joe Beef to the immigrant scene in the smaller restaurants, the mom and pop shops,” he tells us. “It took me a long time to decide where in Canada, but my only goal was to be able to add something to the great food scene in Montreal.”

Considering Samuelsson’s background as an Ethiopian Swedish chef (one with an impeccable and beautifully coloured wardrobe), he could have gone in any direction with the menu at Marcus. But when he sat down to actually conceptualize it he knew that he had to have a clear and focused direction, one that would encompass the great fresh ingredients readily available to him in La Belle Province.

That meant seafood, fresh ingredients, and a comprehensive raw bar.

See more: Try Marcus Samuelsson’s Shrimp Piri Piri

“It took me a lot of time to study the community, what was there before, and then not just to create another restaurant like Montreal already had,” he explains. “It’s all Canadian ingredients; we’re using a lot of seafood. In order to stand out in a city like that you really have to have a point of view. I decided to do something around the grill and seafood and really take a stab at it that way.”

The result is a menu that includes everything from elevated gourmet hot dogs and stackable seafood towers to hand-crafted cocktails and salacious brunch items. It’s a constantly evolving thing, Samuelsson says, and for at least two years following launch he considers the brasserie a growing spot that will require him to visit quit often.

“I go back a lot,” he says. “I’m super excited about it and every time I go to Montreal we evolve and I learn more. It’s a brand new restaurant for at least two more years, because there’s stuff we want to add to it.”

Considering all of Samuelsson’s other interests, including restaurants in London, Bermuda, Chicago, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and in New York, where Red Rooster only one of several eateries he’s concurrently operating, it’s impressive that he’s able to go back as often as he does.

He maintains he chose his first Canadian location well—it’s only an hour away from New York, after all—but he was also originally optioning Vancouver and the 6ix, where he used to visit relatives in Scarborough. So does that mean he’s open to opening a resto in Toronto or some other part of Canada in the near future?

“Ask me in a year from now,” he sighs and then laughs.

 

Food Network Canada Fall Schedule

Fall Lineup 2019: These Are the Shows You Can’t Miss

If the colder weather has you feeling peckish for some classic comfort foods, Food Network Canada has you covered with an array of delicious new and returning programming this fall.

What would the end of the summer be without new installments of our very own homegrown competition, Iron Chef Canada? The masterful culinary series returns for the second half of its first-season on Aug. 28, with plenty of respected chefs ready to tackle new ingredients in a Kitchen Stadium battle against Iron Chefs Hugh Acheson, Amanda Cohen, Lynn Crawford, Rob Feenie and Susur Lee.


Iron Chef Susur Lee and the Chairman Jai West on the set of Iron Chef Canada

That show isn’t the only one evoking nostalgic kitchen memories, though. Back following a seven-year hiatus is Alton Brown’s long-running series Good Eats. On Aug. 31 he’s back for an impressive 15th season that digs deep into the history of food and cooking with informative bits and sketches that we’ve definitely been craving. You could say Good Eats: The Return promises to be all that and a bag of chips.

Speaking of cravings, we’re also riding the end-of-summer sugar high with the introduction of Kardea Brown’s four-part Cupcake Championship on Sept 2. The series is guaranteed to hit plenty of sweet notes thanks to its jaw-dropping challenges and three-dimensional cupcake tableaus, which don’t just look good enough to eat but are… Or so we hear.


Kardea Brown on the set of Cupcake Championship

Cupcakes are just the beginning of the competition. Alex Guarnaschelli’s latest series, Supermarket Stakeout is as fierce as it gets. The Chopped judge steps out from behind the judges’ table to host the ruthless new series, in which chefs raid shoppers’ grocery bags in hopes of cooking their way to a $10,000 grand prize. The series kicks off Sept. 1, the same night we welcome longtime Food Network Canada personality Bobby Flay back on air.

BBQ Brawl: Flay VS Symon features the chef going head-to head with fellow Iron Chef Michael Symon in a four-episode competition that’s all about mentoring some of North America’s most respected barbecue challengers. The show isn’t Flay’s only new fall entry though—he’s sharing his taste buds with a culinary adventure series as well.

The Flay List hits closer to home as Flay welcomes his daughter Sophie along for the ride. The series, which kicks off Oct. 3, follows the duo as they introduce each other to some of their favourite places to eat classic dishes; it’s an exploration that is sure to make all of our tummies rumble.

The smorgasbord that is Food Network Canada’s fall programming doesn’t stop there. Come for the new (and new-ish) series, but stay for all of your returning faves. Your favourite in-the-kitchen shows are back with new, bold seasons featuring big flavours and the personalities you love.

Saturday, Sept. 7 is a big day thanks to the return of fan-favourites like Rachael Ray and 30 Minute Meals, Ina Garten and the 16th season debut of Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics, and Ree Drummond and her The Pioneer Woman creations. That date also marks the 17th season return of The Kitchen, which kicks things off with a Brady Bunch-themed episode.


Rachael Ray is back with 30 Minute Meals

Then, on Sunday, Sept. 8, the meal continues with new seasons of Mollie Yeh’s Girl Meets Farm, Valerie Bertinelli’s Valerie’s Home Cooking, Giada DiLaurentiis’ Giada in Italy. The fourth-season debut of her other series on October 20th,  Giada Entertains.

It’ enough great shows to keep you full and satiated all fall season long, so you’d better come hungry.

Find all our show websites here.

Introducing STACKTV: All of Your Favourite Networks Available Through Amazon Prime Video Channels

Canadian Amazon Prime members better clear their schedules; in partnership with Corus Entertainment, newly launched STACKTV features 12 top tier networks, live and on-demand, on Prime Video Channels. (Hello, stay-cation itinerary!)

Food Network Canada, HGTV Canada, Slice, Global, HISTORY®, W Network, Adult Swim, Showcase, National Geographic, Teletoon, Treehouse, and YTV are now available for Prime members in Canada. Now it’s even easier to watch your favourite Food Network Canada shows, like Top Chef Canada and Chopped, and the newly premiered Big Food Bucket List.

Prime Video Channels can be accessed through the existing Prime Video app, making it easy to watch your favourite Food Network Canada shows anytime, and anywhere, on smart TVs, iOS and Android mobile devices.

STACKTV will be available to Amazon Prime members in Canada for an additional $12.99 per month.

For more information on STACKTV, visit www.primevideo.com/stacktv.

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