May 2011


NY Times' Bittman on Toronto's food innovations

Another Pre-Dawn Flight


When the hotel clerk recommended that I set my alarm at 3 a.m. for my 6:15 a.m. flight to Miami, I gasped. Why is it that arrangements that seemed so reasonable a month ago are now horrifying? Maybe I should just cancel, spend an extra day in Canada, tour a cattle farm, chill? But no: The Florida trip is important, and so there I was, dutifully, in a cab at 4 a.m., to join a couple of hundred other bleary-eyed travelers on a long customs line that lasted until 4:45 a.m. (or maybe it was 5 a.m.? Who can remember, even only a couple of hours later) and led to a series of steel shutters. The customs officers were not as eager as the rest of us.

Anyway. I’ve been reflecting on my developing affection for Toronto (one reason I liked it more yesterday than on previous visits was because, for at least half the day, the sun was out). Its core reminds me of Queens – not Manhattan – in its astonishing diversity; everyone seems from everywhere.

Thus I wasn’t surprised when Nick Saul, who runs the city’s progressive, multi-faceted food agency, The Stop, picked me up yesterday morning and took me off to a farm “incubator,” where I met as many people of different nationalities in an hour as I do on an average day in New York. There, in the middle of a neighborhood that reeked of suburban sprawl, I chatted with men from India, Pakistan, Jamaica, China and Barbados, and with women from France, Zimbabwe and Canada (of all places). Evidently I’d just missed a Mauritian.

This all happened on the McVean Incubator Farm, where a non-profit called Farm Start loans people the land, equipment, and funds they need to see whether farming is the life for them. It’s too long a story for here and now, but I’ll get to it.

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City Hall decision supports farmers' markets

Happy Election Day everyone! Canada's food movement has brought food policy, critical issues to the forefront and their last job is to get out and vote today.

In municipal matters, Food Forward sent of a letter to councillors on the Public Works & Infrastructure, a committee of City Council to thank them for their support for farmers' markets, in their decision last week not to increase their fees for parking. Click here for background on the decision and here for a National Post article covering the issue, and see our letter below:

Dear Councillors, Public Works and Infrastructure Committee,

I am writing to commend you on your decision Tuesday to maintain the one-time
parking fee of $71.97 for City farmers’ markets. As you know, your decision maintains the current practice of charging markets a one-time annual parking fee for their activities. This choice was a good one for the expanding number of communities served by farmers’ markets in Toronto.

Farmers’ markets are playing an important and growing role in many ways.
These include providing fresh healthy food, enhancing community spaces and in
incubating entrepreneurs and fostering job growth in Toronto’s food sector, which
supplies one in eight Toronto jobs. They are a key draw for several City Parks.

Support from City Council for farmers’ markets provides a great benefit to
the City and I’d like to express thanks on behalf of Food Forward’s members for your
decision. Thank you additionally to Councillor Mike Layton and Anne Freeman for
bringing attention to this matter.


Darcy Higgins
Executive Director
Food Forward