Canadian food is worth celebrating
Updated: Aug 19, 2019
August 3rd is Food Day Canada; a day set aside to celebrate Canadian food. Not only does that involve celebrating food planted, grown and harvested in Canada, it also includes appreciating our Canadian culinary heritage, our dedicated farmers, meticulous processors, creative chefs, master home cooks and most importantly, the delicious food that colours your plate. This exciting day has motivated us to explore Canadian food in more detail.
What is Canadian food?
Canadian food is quite simply any food that is grown or produced in Canada. Canadian food is what is grown in your own garden or in farmers’ fields and is sold at your farmer’s market or grocery store. This can come in many different shapes, sizes, packaging, locations, and markets. Canada provides varied climates and growing seasons along with fertile soil to produce a wide variety of nutritious food that is consumed in Canada as well as exported around the world.
The best way to experience and savour the food Canada has to offer is by exploring the vast regions of our great country. Enjoying seafood along the East Coast, dairy and sweet maple syrup in Ontario and Quebec, delicious beef in Alberta, and fruit and vegetables grown in the Okanagan Region in British Columbia is a food lover’s dream.
Canada is More Than Poutine
Canada is the birthplace of some unique foods. Poutine and maple syrup may be the most well-known Canadian foods, but did you know that if you enjoy peameal bacon and a sweet butter tart, you have a Canadian to thank? Pineapple on pizza, ketchup, all-dressed potato chips, and the chocolate dessert, Nanaimo bars, were also created right here in Canada along with so much more.
Canada is fortunate to have various regions throughout the country, creating ample opportunity to produce different foods. Canada is the second largest country by land mass in the world and features the longest coastline. Within the vast land mass of Canada, we experience varied climates, soil types, growing seasons and farming practices that allow for efficient and quality production of consumable food products.
It is difficult to accurately group provinces and territories into two main food production categories; however, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada has identified the top commodities by province and territory in Canada.
How to Identify Canadian Food
Distinguishing between Canadian and non-Canadian food is not always easy. Fortunately, there are helpful labels that facilitate this process. Food packaging is not only useful to find nutrition information and best before dates, it also identifies the product's origin.
This is perhaps the easiest label to interpret; the contents of the product are entirely Canadian. However, some products may use 100% Canadian in a phrase, focusing on one aspect of the product only. An example would be a bottle of ketchup labelled “100% Canadian tomatoes”, this means that all tomatoes used to make the ketchup are Canadian. However, the other ingredients such as vinegar and spices may not be, and more than likely are not Canadian.
Product of Canada
This claim means that the majority of the components in the food product come from Canada. A maximum of 2% of the food’s composition is accepted to be procured outside of Canada, especially for products that are difficult to produce in Canada such as tropical fruit. When you find this label on a food product, you know that all of the major ingredients are Canadian.
Made in Canada
The final of the big three claims may be the most difficult to understand and is always followed by an additional statement. Made in Canada refers to where the product is assembled and created, not the origin of the food ingredients themselves. An example of this is a hamburger that is assembled and created in Canada, although the bun, meat, toppings or all the above may be from an international source. Therefore, an additional statement is always required when using the “made in Canada” claim. The product may be made in Canada from imported ingredients, or from both domestic and imported ingredients. You can learn more about these label claims here.
Food Day Canada: August 3rd 2019
“Food Day Canada is a chance for all Canadians to join hands in one massive celebration in praise of our farmers and fishers; our chefs and researchers…and, above all, our home cooks.”
Agriculture and food are a big part of the Canadian identity and workforce. 1 in 8 jobs in Canada are in some way involved with the food industry. The complete agriculture and agri-food sector contributes over $110 billion to Canada’s GDP every year. We are fortunate to live in a country that values our agricultural industry, including the dedicated and hardworking farmers who continually strive to produce more with less, all while reducing the impact on the environment.
Buy local and enjoy a truly Canadian meal on August 3rd 2019, celebrating Food Day Canada the best way possible.
Check out our podcast episode on the possibilities and opportunities in Canadian food with Food Day founder Anita Stewart.
Recommended citation format: Gingerich, M. “Canadian food is worth celebrating”. Food Focus Guelph (45), Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Guelph, August 2nd, 2019.