Richard Wolak’s first edition of Vancouver Food Talks

I don't want to see asparagus in the middle of December. I don't want to see strawberries from Kenya in the middle of March. I want to see it (vegetables) home grown. There should be stringent laws, fines and licensing laws to make sure produce is only used in season. - Gordon Ramsay's war on out-of-season vegetables

These words, although not verbatim, were echoed at Richard Wolak’s first edition of Vancouver Food Talks. Gathered at W2 Media Cafe were a group of individuals who are passionate about locally sourced food and where the items that are going on their plate are from.

These are topics many people are interested in, but it takes a certain type of person to go above and beyond to ensure that we are living sustainably and setting ourselves up for a healthy future. The speakers presenting that evening encompassed this idea and presented us with information on how we can do our part to help.

The event captured all levels of food from farm (or ocean) to fork, with Roberta LaQuaglia of Vancouver Farmers Markets, Mike McDermid, from the Vancouver Aquarium, Hunter Moyes, founder of the Tiffin Project, Trevor Bird, of Fable Kitchen and Stephanie Yuen, author of East Meets West.

Of course at any food related event there must be food. Chef Karen McAthy of W2 Media Cafe supplied guests with a delicious array of local Aboriginal appetizers with Indian influence.

Tandoori Pemmican, West Coast Elk Chili in Baked Chapati Cups, Saag Bhaji & Gajar Aur Semka Achar, Apple Fig Tart, Spicy Mint Lassi, Cardomom Rose Latte, Iced Rooibos Tea

The first speaker of the night was Mike McDermid discussing sustainable seafood and his role with Ocean Wise at the Vancouver Aquarium. 


He began by stating that two things he’s fond of are Jacques-Yves Cousteau and food. Cousteau, liked to call himself an "oceanographic technician" but in reality he was a sophisticated showman, teacher, and lover of nature. His work permitted many people to explore the resources of the oceans, so in a sense he paved the way for Mike and other like-minded individuals. Oceans make up 70% of our land so how can we not protect them and the creature that inhabit them?

"Oceans are what define us; they are what make us unique in the solar system, they moderate our climate and supply us with food. In fact, 1.2 billion people rely on seafood as their main food.”

Mike started volunteering with the Vancouver Aquarium and years later...well he's still volunteering. But volunteering is about helping out something you’re passionate about regardless of money and he certainly has passion for was he’s doing.

The number one concern that Ocean Wise faces is fishing. This leads to one of their goals of empowering consumers to make the right decisions on seafood they’re purchasing and eating in restaurants. Since chefs are great at relaying information on the food we eat, they decided to target them, asking them to opt for Ocean Wise seafood. Initially they thought that chefs wouldn't want the Vancouver Aquarium telling them what to cook, but to their surprise many chefs were on board with the idea and in the first year first year 27 restaurants became involved. Soon after people were calling worldwide and they now have 3,100 active sources across Canada, from Victoria to St John’s.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change...Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Anthropologist, Margarette Mead’s quote resonates with Mike and stands true for how Ocean Wise has grown to be so successful.

Our next speaker was Stephanie Yuen.

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