Food & Drink
9 Stellar Coast-to-Coast Pantry Items to Celebrate Food Day Canada Every Day
Because “Canada is Food and the world is richer for it.” – Anita Stewart
by : Aman Dosanj- Jul 30th, 2021
Often, when you’re not from a place, you find yourself searching for teeny pieces of home (kind of like Horcruxes but not). My process is to learn about Canada (and the world) through food — travelling province by province to figure out just how edible the land is (while stumbling on the home part).
That pantry obsession was sparked by Food Day Canada founder (and partner-in-crime), Anita Stewart. Falling on the Civic Holiday weekend each year—July 31 this time—the idea is to cook a meal (or three) using all Canadian ingredients. We sadly lost the Wonder Woman of Canadian cuisine late last year, but her local-loving activism lives on every time we vote with our forks.
Stick these tried, tested and loved pantry staples from across the country on your radar (because Canada is rather conveniently being delivered right to our doorstep).
Golden Quinoa, Flourist
Quinoa is the little seed that can. Jam-packed with protein, magnesium, iron and calcium, it’s pretty much a vegan dream. With its newfound celebrity superfood status came mono-cropping, followed by soil-erosion and commodity pricing to keep up with global demand, hurting farmers in Bolivia and Peru (where most store-bought stuff is from). Here’s the thing: Canadian farmers in the Prairies have been cultivating the grain for decades! Flourist in Vancouver shortens the food chain by sourcing 100 percent traceable golden quinoa ($13) from farmer Jamie Draves in Iron Springs, Alberta. From there, it’s over to us!
Fleur de Sel, Tidal Salt
Think fluffy edible snowflakes unique to Nova Scotia. At Tidal Salt, seawater from the Northumberland Strait on St. George’s Bay is processed to brine, then carefully developed by hand. As the Atlantic Ocean is colder than the Pacific, this fleur de sel ($11) has a complex, almost citrusy punch that is way bigger than west coast equivalents. Consulting with the Mi’kmaq community, they recently launched Melkiknay (“I am strong”) limited-edition fleur de sel ($13)— a percentage of profits go to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.
Dehydrated Mushrooms, Untamed Feast
When it comes to my newfound culinary life, rule one is don’t die! Identifying wild foods can be tricky, so let a pro like Eric Whitehead from Alberta’s Untamed Feast do the foraging for you. Their west coast chanterelles ($17) are hand-harvested, fire-dried, alder wood smoked, then aged in red wine barrels (drool). Don’t forget to use up that stock after re-hydrating, too.
Lentils, Fieldstone Organics
Did you know Canada is one of the world’s leading growers of lentils? From Saskatchewan and Alberta to Fieldstone Organics in British Columbia, western Canada is all about legumes (like chickpeas) and lentils (you might not know it yet). So, Indian staples like daal and channa masala are part of Canada’s culinary DNA if you think about it (red lentils from $7.00).
Organic Cold Pressed Canola Oil, Highwood Crossing
Finding organic canola oil is quite the task unless you’ve been farming organically for generations like Tony at Highwood Crossing in Alberta. Their unrefined, non-GMO, preservative/additive-free cold pressed canola oil ($12) is the industry’s benchmark. Intense in flavour with a bright golden sparkle, use it similarly to an extra virgin olive oil (except you can stick it in the fridge).
Stone-Milled Heritage Grain Flour, Brodflour
After lockdown’s baking flex, perhaps it’s time to amp up your flour game with something freshly stone-milled, higher in protein (compared to most store-bought flours), and alive? Baking extraordinaire Jordyn from Toronto’s Brodflour has a few tips: “Because some of the bran and germ are intact, the flour will require a bit more hydration than store-bought flour. In sourdough, the fermentation will happen faster due to the extra nutrients from the bran/germ. We recommend Prairie Hard Red (from $8) for breads and Red Fife (from $8.50) and Spelt (from $8) for cookies, cakes, and other pastries.”
Original Garlic Scape Salt, farmersdotter
First, certified organic garlic scapes from farmersdotter’s Similkameen-based farm are hand-harvested, then wood-fire roasted. Sounds pretty standard, right? Except for the part where the dried scapes get up close and personal with the most majestic Canadian hard-rock mined ancient sea salt ever! Pre-dating humans to the Devonian era, it’s only about…400 million years old! With the help of time and pressure, all impurities are pushed out (meaning no micro-plastics either). Oh, and the finished product ($10) is delicious AF! Whether you’re finishing a steak or seasoning popcorn, the possibilities are endless.
Maple Syrup, Sugar Moon Farm
Maple syrup is not just maple syrup. Nestled in the Cobequid Hills of Nova Scotia, Sugar Moon Farm is oh-so-special. They’re all about celebrating the magical (almost wine-like) complexities of maple syrup across the annual three to six-week sugar season. Typically, the early season’s sap produces the most delicately flavoured syrup, while the late season is the darkest in colour and deepest in taste. Every year, you get a true sense of the growing season by those particular sugar maple trees (from $7.00).
Wild Sockeye Salmon, Okanagan Select
There are “sustainable” practices, and then there are those rooted in Indigenous teachings and generational wisdom. suiki?st Pauline Terbasket from the Okanagan Nation Alliance gives us insight into the nutrient-dense food that has sustained the Okanagan peoples for centuries: “As a Syilx woman, ntytyix is one of our four [sacred] food chiefs. This [the Okanagan] is their homeland. They return to feed, so we cannot forget our responsibilities — to care for the land, water and each other. The difference between an indigenous food fishery and an economic fishery is the struggle to maintain balance caring for the planet. We intend to ensure that food fishery remains paramount, and profitability does not dominate over sustainability. Lim’limpt!” Yes, yes, and yes — support wild salmon ($7.00), not farmed.
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