A vision by late University of Guelph food laureate Anita Stewart to create a day to celebrate Canadian food is set to become official.
The Food Day in Canada Act (Bill S-227) passed in Parliament this week. Once the bill receives royal assent, the Saturday before the first Monday in August will officially be known as Food Day in Canada, a day to celebrate Canadian-grown food and recognize those who contribute to this country’s agriculture, food, and cuisine.
As Canada’s food university, U of G has been involved with Food Day Canada since its inception in 2003. That was the year Stewart helped organize the “World’s Longest Barbecue” to support Canadian beef growers who were struggling with the U.S. border closure prompted by a case of mad cow disease in Alberta.
Meant as a one-time gesture of support, the event evolved into an annual, nationwide celebration of all Canadian food.
The annual event coincides every year with the August long weekend, when many Canadians gather for feasts and local produce harvests are underway.
Stewart explained in 2019 why she believed holding an event to support locally grown food was so critical.
“Eating from our own backyards — whether locally, regionally or nationally — is extraordinarily important to the future of Canada and to our local growers,” she said. “Shopping is a political act and the food choices we make matter.”
A culinary historian, cookbook author and passionate supporter of Canadian agriculture, Stewart was appointed in 2012 as U of G’s inaugural food laureate – a first at any university.
After Stewart passed away in October 2020, the University established an Anita Stewart Tribute Fund to continue to advance her contributions to Canada’s culinary life and her work as U of G’s food ambassador.
In 2021, the Anita Stewart Memorial Food Laboratory opened at the MacDonald Institute on campus to carry on Stewart’s legacy and contributions and continue to celebrate Canadian food.
Sen. Rob Black, a U of G alumnus, introduced the Food Day in Canada Act bill in the Senate, while John Nater, member of Parliament for Perth-Wellington, sponsored the bill in the House of Commons.
This Aug. 5, Canadians are encouraged to pile as much Canada onto their plates as possible by visiting a Food Day Canada-participating restaurant using local ingredients, by cooking an all-Canadian meal at home, and sharing on social media with the hashtag #FoodDayCanada.