Shop Like A Canadian!
A Shopping List to help set this year’s Food Day Canada Table!
So you want to Shop Like A Canadian. Me, too. For a whole lot of reasons. Local food is better for the planet and keeping our producers and processors in business and reviving the entire sector which, for a number of years, seemed to have been on life support is actually fun.
It whets our culinary curiosity and defines who we are as Canadians. We are very proud of those culinary nationalists who care enough to risk being in the food business either as a grower, a processor or as a manufacturer.
Before beginning, we needed to find out about the rules around labeling. There are dozens, both at the Federal and Provincial levels. It’s like like sifting wheat from chaff to find out how to read them. But I think we’ve nailed it. Maybe not perfectly. But that’s where you come in. We look forward to your feedback.
Product of Canada is the one that holds the most weight! It’s grown and processed in Canada. This is why this list is such fun … and why it’s so important.
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, a “Product of Canada” label means that all, or nearly all, of the food, processing and labour used to make the food is Canadian. These foods were
- grown or raised by Canadian farmers
- prepared and packaged by Canadian food companies.
Note that a food can still be labeled “Product of Canada” if it contains small amounts of imported food, such as spices, food additives, vitamins, and flavourings.
Made in Canada is where it could get confusing and unless you carry a magnifying glass to the grocery store, a few manufacturers would like to keep it that way. But it’s also where makers of gorgeous jams, for instance, cannot call what they create Product of Canada because the bulk of the preserve is sugar from outside the country. The chaff-sifting continued.
The words “Made in Canada from domestic and imported ingredients” on a food label mean that
- a Canadian company was involved in some of the preparation of the food and,
- it contains some food grown by Canadian farmers, and some food that’s been imported.
The words “Made in Canada from imported ingredients” on a food label means that
- a Canadian company was involved in some of the preparation of the food; and
the contents of the food were imported.
A Maple Leaf on the Label – often is a decoration more than an origin stamp. Check the “Made in” status. This is what we call Canada-washing. Sure was in last year’ ketchup debacle.
Now what’s “Local” mean on a label? We think it’s pretty intuitive but the CFIA has had to adopt a policy, albeit interim, on Local Food Claims which recognizes “local” as food produced in the province or territory in which it is sold, or food sold across provincial borders within 50 km of the originating province or territory.
If you want to do some reading along with me, check out this link.
So, all that being taken into consideration…and with a healthy understanding that this list is only a beginning.
What to Drink!
- Tap water
- Milk & Kefir – lots of brands from which to choose.
- Birch Water / Maple Water – the un-reduced sap from the trees.
- Westholme Canadian Tea – Vancouver Island – our first official tea ‘plantation in the Cowichan Valley
- Cherry juice from Dwarf Sour Cherries (a.k.a. Prairie Cherries™) developed over 70 years at the University of Saskatchewan’s fruit breeding programme (see below) and also Concentrated cherry juice from Cherry Lane in Niagara…great in cocktails.
- Apple cider and Cranberry Juices – locally grown and locally pressed. Terra Beata is one feisty producer, too. They make pure juices (cranberry, blueberry, sour cherry) from 100% Canadian grown fruit.
- Craft Beers – by Province (See the links below)
- Spirits – by Province (See more links below and check out BC Distilleries where there’s been massive growth recently).
- Sake – Osake Fraser Valley Junmai – Renaissance…from farm to glass. And with luck you’ll be able to buy some of their rice. Another first for Canada.
- VQA Wines / Wines of Nova Scotia – both appellation programmes showcase our best. Note that “Cellared in Canada” means that the wine from other countries is not from Canadian grapes and is merely bottled here.
- Fruit Wines and Ciders – both relatively new on the beverage scene, cider businesses are growing quickly, particularly since some growers have planted orchards that are specific to this industry.
- Maple liqueurs – there are a few distilled, mainly in Quebec, from this very Canadian ingredients…Sortilege is one of the originals but check out Domaine Kildare’s La Crème and Domaine Acer which distills maple sap and Deep Roots Distillery (PEI) that makes an east coast version of maple liqueur.
- Bitters – best known are B.C.’s Bittered Sling and Ontario’s Dillons who have seen an opportunity and are making mixologists across Canada very happy.
- Kombucha …check out Live and Rise, both excellent Canadian brands.
- Yellow and green split peas
- Green lentils including small-seeded green, French green and beluga lentils. A primarily Prairie crop but now Ontario has one brave grower near Elora, Lau tea da Lentils.
- Whole and Split Red lentils
- White pea beans – navy bean, great northern beans, pinto and cranberry beans, cranberry beans, dark and light red kidney beans and elegant small red beans.
- Edamame…yes, there are Canadian grown edamame beans. MacKellar Farms near Alvinston, Ontario is the first to grow and commercialize this really delicious crop and Jason Persall’s Pristine Gourmet who are renowned for their old pressed oils!
- Chickpeas or “garbanzo beans” and chickpea (besan) flour.
- Hemp hearts and hemp oil – check out Manitoba Harvest and Mettrum Originals in Ontario.
- Flax – milled or whole & flax oil — 99% of the flax sold in Canada in from our farms.
- Pearl and pot barley — barley’s not just for beer…it makes a killer risotto instead of rice and it tastes infinitely better.
- Farro (a.k.a. emmer wheat), an ancient grain along with other whole grains like khorasan, according to growers Fieldstone Organics, “one of the four foundational ancient wheats.” This creative grower also harvests einkorn the first wheat known to humankind.
- Prairie-grown sunflower & pumpkin seeds — these limited production seeds are sometimes difficult to find but are worth sussing out.
- Wild rice & wild rice flour – primarily from Saskatchewan and Northern Ontario.
- Quinoa both golden and black – Ontario (Katan Kitchens / Quinta Quinoa) Saskatchewan (Canadian Quinoa) and B.C (Fieldstone Organics). Flavour is boosted simply because they’re so fresh.
- Canola oil both traditional that most restaurants use for deep frying and cold-pressed where we’d be remiss we didn’t give a shout out to two of the originals…Tony and Penny Marshall’s Highwood Crossing (Alberta) and Jason Persall’s Pristine Gourmet (Ontario) who also presses organic, Ontario soybeans for their oil.
- Hard to find pressed-to-order Sunflower oil – with the closure of the last sunflower pressing plant in Manitoba, we now rely on smaller processors, again like Jason Persall.
- Camelina oil – Three Farmers — love this oil’s flavour…grassy and fresh!
- Beef is very regional! In northern Ontario where hay is the major field crop farmers like Penokean Hills Farms have their own breeding programme and produce exceptional meat. There’s fabulous beef from both Alberta and Saskatchewan and Atlantic Beef from the Maritimes. Can’t forget Ontario Corn Fed beef, either. One of the most successful ranchers is YU Ranch which raises Texas Longhorns on carefully-managed grasslands of SW Ontario. Summer and barbecues = Canadian beef. VG Meats is another dedicated Ontario entrepreneur and not only to they raise their beef on feed they grow themselves, they have their own butcher stores.
- Cloth-wrapped, Mennonite-style summer sausage found in many farmers markets and smaller grocery stores, especially in rural Canada.
- Pingue’s prosciutto – this Niagara-based company was THE pioneer in artisan charcuterie. Tagliere Salumeria (Caledon) is a runner up for it’s cured meats and in Quebec, Les Cochons Tout Ronds was honoured in 2007 with the Culatello D’Oro award, granted by the Consortium of Culatello di Zibello in Italy for the first time in North America. This prize emphasizes the quality of their raw ham…and it is spectacular.
- Ranch-raised bison (even in Northern Ontario) venison, quail, squab, pheasant.
- Local lamb – there’s great lamb from one coast to the other, some of it feasting on salt grasses, while others bounding through vineyards trimming the grape vines.
- Wild game…Labrador hare, Newfoundland moose, Quebec seal…but for much of Canada wild game has to be from a northern neighbour’s freezer – rabbit, moose, caribou.
- Canadian Pork – check the labeling as there’s a good deal of cheap American pork on our market.
- Maple Leaf Canadian Craft™ cold meats and hams. For such a large manufacturer, this line of products lives up to its billing.
- Good Back Bacon – love the handmade products at local butcher shops.
- Poultry – Because chicken and turkey are ‘supply managed’ the chances are that most of it is Canadian. It must be labeled.
- Quail, squab, pheasant…even wild turkey if you’re lucky.
- Eggs – lots of them – virtually all eggs sold in Canada are from Canadian farmers. The array of choices is amazing.
- Foie Gras – Quebec-produced – these are three recommended producers… Rougie / Canard Goulu / Le Canardises
Fish and Shellfish.
- Wild Pacific salmon (Chinook, coho, pink, chum, steelhead)
- Pacific halibut is sustainable with snowy white flesh
- Sablefish (a.k.a.Black Cod) – arguably the most delicious wild-caught fish in the Pacific
- Kokanee salmon – fish for these fabulous land locked salmon with a wonderful flavour in B.C.’s interior
- Hardy Boys candied salmon nuggets – from northern Vancouver Island
- St Jean’s canned wild Pacific salmon from Nanaimo, B.C. Catch your own and have them process it or buy directly from this veteran cannery!
- Newfoundland fresh cod, cod cheeks & tongues
- Smoked & corned caplin
- Fresh weir-caught herring in New Brunswick and fabulous smoked herring – the best I’ve tasted is on Les Iles de la Madeleine at Le Fumoir D’Antan done in barns with strings of herring suspended above the fire.
- Smoked Mackerel and American eel – the tradition lives on at Willy Krauch’s Nova Scotian smoke-house
- Caviar and smoked/fresh farm-raised sturgeon from two exceptional Canadian producers – from B.C. there’s Northern Divine and New Brunswick’s spectacular Acadian Sturgeon
- Whitefish and Lake trout – we love it from the deep, cold waters of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay
- Arctic char – wild and farmed
- Lake Diefenbaker trout
- Lake Erie perch
- Pickerel (walleye / doré ) from our northern lakes
- Fresh or smoked albacore tuna
- ANYTHING recommended by Oceanwise!
- Snow crab from one coast…Dungeness crab from the other
- North Atlantic shrimp & west coast side-striped and spot prawns
- Ontario Farm-raised Shrimp (at left)- A new crop being developed near Aylmer, Ontario by Planet Shrimp. So far it’s mainly for foodservice but there’ll come a day when they’ll be more widely available.
- Atlantic lobster
- Oysters – Fanny Bay, Raspberry Point, Colville Bay, Bras d’Or, Kushi, Qualicum…and many others
- Honey Mussels & Salt Spring Island Mussels on the west and blue mussels on the east coast
- Cultured scallops
Dairy (there is so much!)
- Good Cream
- Butter – sweet, salted and whey.
- Ice Cream – Look for the Dairy Farmers Quality Milk symbol
- Yogurt and sour cream
- Carnation Milk – many of us grew up on Carnation desserts!
- Eagle Brand Condensed Milk – so amazing for squares and baking!
- Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar Cheese from PEI – one of the finest in Canada
- Goudas…Old Growler, an aged Gouda from Nova Scotia, Sylvan Star Gouda from Alberta and Glasgow Glen from P.E.I.
- Dragon’s Breath blue from Upper Economy, Nova Scotia – almost mythical, sharp blue cheese enclosed in its signature black wax.
- Laliberté – Fromagerie du Presbytère may be one of Quebec’s delicious offerings but there are other cheesemakers searching out including Laiterie Charlevoix making one named 1608 from the milk of Canadienne cows, reportedly descendants of the animals transported by Samuel de Champlain. They also make Fleurmier, one of my personal faves!
- Gunn’s Hill cheeses – particularly Five Brothers and Glengarry Fine Cheese’s amazing Celtic Blue Reserve that was dubbed Best in Show in 2015 by the American Cheese Society.
- Maple Dale in Eastern Ontario…Especially their extra old cheddar. You’ll often see trucks parked outside as the drivers routinely stop in for a bag of fresh, made-that-morning cheese curds!
- Farmhouse Natural Cheeses in the Fraser Valley of B.C. Quark, crème fraîche and small batches of butter and some excellent blue cheeses produced with the milk of Guernsey and Brown Swiss cows!
- Halloom frying cheese, a new cheese on the Canadian market and it’s terrific. Look for either Cedar or PC brands.
- Quality Cheeses (Orangeville, Woodbridge) the Borgo family are pioneers in the local cheese-making industry – check out their buffalo-milk mozzarella and creamy, rich mascarpone.
- The production of both sheeps’ milk cheese and goats’ milk cheese are thriving across the nation. In fact, with few exceptions, it’s become a massive, artisan-led industry. Check out Fromagerie Au Fond Des Bois from New Brunswick (goat). Monforte (goat), River’s Edge (Ontario) and David Wood’s beautiful soft cheese from Salt Spring Island in B.C. Ewenity Dairy Cooperative (Ontario) has been on the forefront of ewes’ milk cheese making for decades. For lots more, search at Canadian Dairy Information website.
For your Salads and Preserving
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Reinhart’s unfiltered & unpasteurized! Filsinger’s Organic Cider Vinegar – Ayton, Ontario
- Venturi-Schulze Balsamic, Vancouver Island make the only authentic balsamic in Canada. They have just released their 25 year old vinegar, an extraordinary product they’ve dubbed Legacy.
- Boates apple-balsamic vinegar from Nova Scotia’s apple country and still the ONLY producer of cider vinegar in Atlantic Canada.
- Spinnakers malt vinegar – Victoria, B.C.
- Honey vinegar from Ontario is a painstaking process where the honey itself is made into mead then fermented into vinegar. Natural flavourings enhance the product sold by Ontario Honey Creations.
- Verjus – Featherstone 12 Brix (Ontario) and Venturi-Schulze Estate-grown verjus (Cobble Hill, B.C.)
- Mustard – dry Prairie-grown mustard powder or “flour” is largely the space of mustard millers, GS Dunn in Hamilton. Then check out great prepared products like Kozlik’s, Gravelbourg, Queen Mary Mustards (they even make one flavoured with Icewine) and don’t forget, you can make your own.
- Maple syrup, maple butter and maple sugar
- Honey – 100% Canadian – watch the labeling some, particularly no name varieties are from off shore.
- Ice Syrup – Vidal & Cabernet Franc … made from Ontario ice wine juice before fermentation.
- Birch Tree syrup from the north and Big Leaf maple syrup from B.C. Here’s a neat interview with the McLauchlans, two producers from Northern Manitoba. Read here.
- Granulated Sugar – Rogers/Lantic refined from sugar beets.(code on bottom begins with 22…ie. From Taber, Alberta for now the only Canadian refinery of this great crop.)
- Hazelnuts – Fraser Valley and Okanagan in particular but a new crop is being developed in Ontario specifically for Italian chocolate maker, Ferraro Rocher.
- Ontario-grown peanuts (OAC Garroy)
- Ontario peanut butter!!!!
- Black walnuts, heart nuts AND pecans! Check out the nut butters! All Ontario-grown. Jewels Under the Kilt (Fergus, Ontario)
The Summer Harvest
- New Potatoes – from coast to coast there’s not much better than a new potato, likely scrubbed and gently boiled with melted butter and a bit of salt
- Sweet corn
- Cucumbers – field and greenhouse
- Cultivated mushrooms (fresh and dried) – a massive variety!
- Wild mushrooms…from chanterelles and morels to king boletes and shaggy manes, Canada’s woods are full of some of the most delicious fungi on earth – even truffles (on the right).
- Frozen cranberries and cranberry juice – Mikita Farms, P.E.I.
- Venosta dried cranberries, Quebec – sweetened with maple syrup!
- Wild and domesticated Blueberries
- Sweet, sweet ever-bearing Strawberries
- Haskap berries – began in Saskatoon, spread to PEI and now is found in gardens/small farms across Canada including Ontario where Boreal Berry Farm & Winery has developed a retail line (below right)
- Saskatoon berries = service berries
- Partridgeberries = lingonberries
- Bakeapples = cloud berries
- Sea Buckthorn – a citrusy orange berry that grows in clusters
- Prairie cherries – fresh or pitted & frozen sold primarily in Saskatchewan where they were developed by Dr. Bob Bors (below left)
- Niagara dried cherries (Cherry Lane Orchards)
- Black cherries (BC & Ontario) – Bing isn’t the only variety either.
- Rhubarb – in the back yard or frozen – shout out to “Our Compliments™
- Niagara peaches & nectarines and B.C. apricots – freeze them, can them, eat them with the juice dripping down your chin.
- Early apples for applesauce – we like the Transparent variety, old-fashioned and tart OR storage apples from the previous year
- Plums – Early yellow but if you’re lucky you’ll find some old-fashioned Damsons
- Buckets full of frozen Niagara sour cherries
- Tomatoes (hot house) and field
- Sweet red, yellow, orange hothouse peppers
- Sweet & hot field grown peppers – Shepherd peppers to cherry bombs and green Thai chilis
- Romaine, butter and leaf lettuces – in season!
- Kale – curly & dinosaur and Swiss Chard … love “rainbow”
- All the awesome brassicas….early cauliflower, cabbage, green and purple kohlrabi, summer broccoli
- Fresh green, yellow, purple beans and fava beans
- Zucchini – green and yellow & their flowers and Beets of every colour and design from red to candy-cane
- Bouquets of new carrots … eat the tops, too.
- Seaweed! Dark Harbour dulse, Nova Scotia sea vegetables, PEI Irish moss and west coast seaweed like kelp, wakame, bladderwrack.
- Garlic !!!! Scapes and bulbs.
- Canadian-made dry pastas – Catelli (1867), Primo (1956), Italipasta
- Oak Manor Farms: Rye, Flours, Barley, Spelt, Corn, Cornmeal, Millet, Flax
- Against the Grain’s purple corn meal! Coarse and full flavoured- superb for cornbread.
- Buckwheat flour – traditional in Quebec known as ‘sarrazin’.
- Robin Hood and Five Roses Flours
- Rogers roti flour (ap+bran) – whole grain flour
- Micro-milled flour – There are superb artisan millers all across the country…K2 Milling (Beeton, Ontario); Arva Flour (Arva, Ontario – lovely local varieties), Speerville (one of the veterans located in New Brunswick), Les Moulins des Cedres and La Meunerie Milanaise Inc. from the home of Canada’s artisan baking movement, Quebec. Anita’s Milling (B.C.) has a great product line including what we believe to be Canada’s FIRST Canadian-grown and milled double-zero OO flour for pasta and pizza.
- Fleishmann’s Yeast – been made in Montreal for decades
- Oats….Quaker( large flake / quick / steel cut ) Rogers (huge array including steel cut) and Oak Manor Farms
- Zinda couscous, a made in Montreal product using our durum semolina. Comes in both fine & medium.
- Phyllo and kataifi pastry…this wonderful Middle Eastern pastry is usually produced for private labels by Produits de Pâtisserie Orientale.
- Salt – Windsor and Sifto are the originals (yes, there ARE salt mines in Canada) but Vancouver Island Sea Salt, Salt West Solar Sea Salt from Sooke and Newfoundland sea salt are great new entries from a nation with the longest coastline on earth.
- Spices – fresh and dried…look for culinary lavender, coriander, fenugreek, Mt Scio Summer Savoury.
- Fresh herbs by the bushel, especially in farmers markets or better still, from your garden.
- Canned tomatoes – Aylmer & Unico brands – whole tomatoes – some crushed as well. Read the labels!
- Lakeside Packers Pickles… Love the Bread and Butter and Dills. S.W. Ontario still supplies lots of cukes to U.S. makers which our major grocers buy back. Duh! Check out No Name and various private label brands…most are from India.
- Sunshine Pickled asparagus using the variety, Guelph Millennium, that has put Canada into the forefront of asparagus breeding on earth.
- Awesome, Half-sour pickles – Jewish Deli, St. John’s NFLD – ignore the no name brands that are routinely shipped from off-shore.
- Ketchup, Primo — the earlier ketchup debate left out one component of the story. Only Primo was MADE in Canada from Canadian tomatoes till April 2017, when French’s announced a ketchup production facility in Toronto. Heck now there’s even ketchup from the great kitchen of Chef Jason Lynch at Grand Pré Winery.
- There’s lots of home grown popping corn around that’s local- even some that’s popped like the award winning From Farm to Table-Canada and if you’re buying potato chips try Lay’s, Old Dutch, Old Yorke – you must check out the frying medium as most commercial grade sunflower oil is not from Canada but the salt and the spuds sure are!
Some of the Ice Cream brands having 100% Canadian milk products :Scotsburn Dairy (Nova Scotia), Cornell Creme (Manitoba), Shaw’s ice cream (St. Thomas, Ontario), Laiterie Coaticook (Quebec), Reid’s Dairy (Belleville, Ontario), Chapmans Ice Cream (Markdale, Ontario), Belly Ice Cream (Huntsville, Ontario).
Fromagerie les rivières, Arla Foods Tre Stelle, Arla Foods Dofino, Bothwell Cheese, Cows Creamery (clothbound cheddar at left), Quality Cheese – Bella Casara Fromagerie St-Albert, Fromagerie du Presbytère, Fromagerie l’Ancêtre, Fromagerie La Station, Pine River Cheese, Natural Pastures
In Quebec the Independent Vignerons have established themselves with a great tasting route throughout the province and all along the St. Lawrence.
Wines of Nova Scotia represent one of the most exciting groups of vintners in the country. Check out their Tidal Bay appellation: To obtain the Tidal Bay designation, all wines must be made from specific grape varieties, include 100% Nova Scotia grown grapes, follow a strict set of standards and be approved every year by an independent blind tasting panel.
Wines Country Ontario includes 4 distinct regions – Niagara, Prince Edward County, Pelee Island and Lake Erie North Shore. A fifth category has been added that’s called “Emerging” … which means everywhere else people are giving grape growing a whirl.
From Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands to the Fraser, Similkameen and Okanagan Valleys, British Columbia‘s dramatic landscape has offered grape growers a multitude of opportunities to test their mettle.
Our Fabulous Craft Beers
Ontario Craft Brewers has over 70 members and growing!
British Columbia Craft Brewers Guild is an association of nearly 90 independent members who are 100% B.C. owned!
Quebec has had a dynamic brewing industry for decades.
Brewing across the grain-growing regions of the Canadian Prairies just makes sense.
Nova Scotia’s brewers have banded together to form the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia.
Some Shout Outs to those who are on the FRONT LINES! The people who are at the helm of these organizations deserve massive credit!
BC Farm Fresh – for 22 years these farmers have been promoting their Grown-in-B.C. produce!
Taste of Nova Scotia – the original ‘taste’ programme that links where to travel to taste the best in Nova Scotia ingredients.
FEAST ON! – the new kids on the block that’s making others sit up and take notice. A brilliant way of enjoying, savouring and traveling across all of Ontario!
Foodland Ontario — Good things DO grow in Ontario! A tremendous recipe resource from the oldest origin-promotion organization in Canada.