Toronto’s Terre Madre Day

Over the past few years, Slow Food activists have taken part in a bi-annual event in Torino, Italy called Terra Madre. First held in 2004, the event brings together food activists from around the world in a giant conference and marketplace where people can exchange ideas and information. There are conferences, symposiums, dinners and markets, all with a focus on sharing ideas about how to promote sustainable food. Terra Madre takes place during the even-numbered years (2006, 2008… another coming up in 2010), and this year, Slow Food decided that it would be a good idea for individual convivia to hold local events – both as a great way to support local food producers, and because, well, not everyone can afford to get on a plane to Italy.

Organized and paid for by Slow Food Toronto (monies raised at the Picnic at the Brickworks allowed them to pay participating farmers and producers to take part, a rarity in the world of markets and trade shows where the producers usually have to pay to participate), this year’s Terra Madre Day took place at the FoodShare warehouse.

Farmers and producers arrived early and took part in discussions hosted by author Margaret Webb and Mark Trealout of Kawartha Ecological Growers. Producers broke into groups based on geography to discuss issues that might be specific to their area. I joined a small group comprised of Trealout, Patricia Hastings of CIPM Farm and Brent Preston of The New Farm where one of the issues discussed included the very ironic problem of getting rural people in their own communities to buy locally grown food.

When the doors opened, guests had the opportunity to sample and buy products, talk to chefs, food producers and representatives of local food agencies. While some complained about the lack of beer and wine, others were delighted to be able to bring their kids, and it was great to see so many young ones running around trying things like beets and prosciutto and beautiful cheeses. The event was wonderfully laid back and relaxed and was a great opportunity to do some holiday shopping, with everything from braids of garlic to salsa to organic Ontario-grown soy sauce available to take home.

The general consensus at the end of the evening was that the event was a huge success. Even though the main Terra Madre festival will be held in Italy next year, we hope that some version of this event takes place in Toronto again – if not as an official Slow Food event then as a holiday marketplace where producers can sell their wares and we city folk get to hang out with our favourite farmers.

Note – many of the farmers and producers who took part can be found at local farmers’ markets or sell their products through local shops. Please search them out if you’re looking for goodies for yourself or as gifts.

A selection of products from Anton Kozlik’s Canadian Mustard.

How much fun are these gorgeous mushrooms from Fun Guy Farm?

Pingue Prosciutto from Niagara Specialty Foods awaits slicing.

How many local varieties of apples and pears can you identify?

Cider in waiting.

Beets from The New Farm.

Vinegars from Pristine Gourmet.

Mark Trealout and Margaret Webb at the producers discussion event.

The Healthy Butcher makes a bright and cheerful display.

Bowls and cups awaiting the mushroom soup from Fun Guy.

Frankfurters from Y U Ranch. These are yummy dipped in some Kozlik’s mustard.

The folks from Chocosol came with both old and new products – that beige stuff to the right is chocolate made from albino cacao pods. It’s got a nutty, creamy flavour.

Patricia Hastings of CIPM might well be my favourite farmer, just because she grows this amazing red fife flour that I use for all my baking.

And CIPM’s red fife flour goes into breads from St. John’s Bakery, where they also make these fantastic brioche.

Flatbread from Evelyn’s Crackers.

Samples of Foodshare’s Good Food Box.

This pretty slaw was part of the canape from Gilead Cafe.

Chocosol was also serving up handmade tacos…

…that could be topped with salsas made by David Chrystian at Victor, made with peppers from Kawartha Ecological Growers. That curried one was our favourite, and a jar came home with us.

Good things grow in Ontario.

Piles of garlic from The Cutting Veg.

An array of delicacies from Fifth Town Artisan Cheese.

Chef Jason Innis of Amuse Bouche gets with the season.

Ruth Klahsen of Monforte Dairy told me not to take her picture, but here’s some of her fabulous cheese. Incidentally, a CSA share from Monforte would make an amazing gift for the cheese-lover on your Christmas list.

The whole crew from Eigensinn Farm/Haisai came to Terra Madre Day… and they brought a pig.

The completed canapes from Gilead Cafe with smoked fish on blinis.

Pate from Provenance Regional Cuisine – a meal delivery service that uses all local and sustainable ingredients.

The Stadtlanders brought baked goods from Haisai too, including stollen made from a family recipe.

Yes! Ontario grows peanuts. These ones from Kernals are especially good. Available at Culinarium.

The chefs from Provenance cooking up chili and elk sausage.

For a little extra kick in your morning coffee, why not add cacao nibs?

T-shirts and onesies from Not Far From the Tree.

Memories of last summer getting hazy? It all comes back to life with some jam or preserves like these ones from Matchbox Garden.

And finally, when the cold weather starts getting you down and Terra Madre Day and the summer harvest seem so long ago, you can always start planning for next year with these seeds from Urban Harvest.