Every August long weekend, Canadians across the land celebrate Food Day Canada. It’s a time to explore and enjoy the diverse flavours of our great country.
For many of us, this year’s celebration will be bittersweet. On October 29, 2020, Food Day Canada founder and Canada’s first and, so far, only Food Laureate, Anita Stewart, passed away. According to a Globe and Mail article published around the time of her passing, Stewart viewed herself as an activist and disruptor in the world of food. Anita’s passion for Canadian agriculture and food was broad and deep. She travelled the country to experience the full range of Canadian food culture, from Cree hunt camps in Northern Quebec to the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the tips of the Maritimes and almost everywhere in between.
Food Day Canada originated during the 2003 BSE crisis in support of Canada’s beef farmers and the beef industry. It began as The World’s Longest Barbeque and has grown and evolved significantly over the years, with chefs pitching in as ambassadors for Canadian food and cuisine. The highlight of the day continues to be the ‘lighting up’ of iconic locations across Canada, including Niagara Falls, the CN Tower, Science World in Vancouver, and the Rialto in Montreal.
Most important to Stewart was the fact that Food Day Canada was and remains grassroots through and through. For example — it’s free! The only requirement for participation is to take a bit of time to use, enjoy, and share Canadian cuisine and ingredients.
Big, bold, bouncy ideas like Food Day Canada don’t generally come from committees, legislation, or mandates. They come from dedicated, passionate, smart, and effective people like Anita Stewart. And while our country is a little less flavourful without her, Anita’s legacy is guaranteed to live on. For that, we are all blessed.
Happy Food Day Canada to all! Please join us in celebrating Canadian cuisine and Anita Stewart on July 31.
And if you’re so inclined, take the Food Day Canada pledge to shop, cook, and dine like a Canadian on www.fooddaycanada.ca, then share your stories and pics on social media using #FoodDayCanada and tagging @FoodDayCanada. Remember — in Canada, there’s no “flavour” without “u”.