Food Day Canada Puts Flavour on the Map

Share your menu online

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Nicole Yada

What are you cooking up Aug. 4 for Food Day Canada? You can share your dinner plans with the rest of Canada and the world – and help support homegrown food and agriculture – by entering your menu for that day on a new virtual food map of the country.

Called a “Road Map to the Flavours of Canada,” the one-of-a-kind website was launched late last month as part of Food Day Canada, an event co-sponsored by the University of Guelph.

The website features a Google map currently highlighting about 250 restaurants and many farmers’ markets across all 10 provinces and the Yukon.

Visitors can enter their event, barbecue or party plans for Aug. 4, including location and planned menu. Organizers are looking for Canadian ingredients (“beer counts, too,” says the website). Entries will appear on the map after being reviewed by organizers.

Sharing Canadian flavours and supporting farmers, producers and restaurateurs are the goals of the map project, says Anita Stewart, a U of G friend and culinary expert. She came up with the idea as part of Food Day Canada.

Stewart invited restaurants to take part in the project based on their use of Canadian ingredients, foods and menus. “They’re all my culinary friends,” she says. “I’ve been traveling and eating and talking and communicating about food since 1982.”

Referring to Canadian farmers facing increasing competition from abroad, she adds, “We’ve got to keep our producers in business. They feed us so well.”

Founder of Cuisine Canada, she has written books and articles about domestic foods and wines, including many University of Guelph flavoured selections. Known as “Canada’s food university,” U of G has been involved with Food Day Canada since the event began in 2003.

“Anita has a personal relationship with all of these restaurants,” says Nicole Yada, a recent U of G marketing graduate who helped assemble the food map. “The map can show you places that you know for sure are dedicated to promoting Canadian food.”

Another “map-maker” was Andrew Mayne, a computer science graduate student at Trent University and a personal acquaintance of Stewart’s. Mayne, also a cook and “foodie,” says the project might include food carts and other street foods in cities such as Toronto.

“There are so many unique experiences right off your doorstep that you might not recognize,” he says, calling the new road map “a great interface to find those little secrets that might be under your nose – and possibly on your tongue.”

Last year, Yada worked on a website for an online consumer panel run by researchers in U of G’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics. As a student writer in the Office of Research, she spent two years writing about Guelph research, including food-related projects from egg allergies to crop science.

She met Stewart through her dad, food science professor Rickey Yada.

Early this month, both Rickey and Nicole will visit Brazil for a conference on global food security and wellness held by the International Union of Food Science and Technology. Rickey Yada will co-chair the event’s scientific committee; he is president-elect for the organization.

“We are addressing food security in developing countries,” he says, pointing to a need to feed a world population predicted to reach nine billion people by 2050. He will speak at the conference about food science curricula in North America.

Back at Guelph, Yada has helped lead development of a “food map” of a different kind. This new electronic database – also involving engineering PhD student Jamie Miller and Wayne Johnston at the U of G Library – will link food researchers and food-related studies across campus. Due for completion this year, the tool will allow users on and off campus to learn about U of G projects and to pursue partnerships.

The database already includes hundreds of campus entries and will link to a research database at the Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs. The project is led by U of G’s Ontario Agricultural College and the Library; funding has come from the office of the vice-president (research).