5 Local Restaurants That You Need To Try This Summer!

COVID-19 has deeply affected the way we interact, educate and work. A sector that has been increasingly dealing with the repercussions of the pandemic is the food and service sector. London-Middlesex is home to a variety of small food shops. Since dine-in options are limited, these mom and pop shops are seeing fewer customers. In light of the situation, we’ve compiled a list of black and indigenous-owned businesses that host delicious products that you should try!

Asmara Cafe brings traditional coffee-making methods from Eritrea, Africa, into our backyards. Their coffee is freshly roasted, brewed on-site using high-quality Ethiopian coffee beans. Their house specialty is Ethiopian Yirga Chefe coffee! Alongside your coffee, you can also enjoy a variety of breakfast and lunch items! Their current summer feature is seasonal ice cream from Shaw’s ice cream! The flavours they have include vanilla, chocolate, turtle fudge and moose tracks. For a relaxing and memorable coffee experience, be sure to visit Asmara Cafe.

Vas Cuisine provides delicious African (Nigerian) dishes with a homemade feel! They source local ingredients to ensure high-quality meals. Some fan favourites from their menu include their ofada rice (grown in south-west Nigeria) and egusi (a delicious savoury stew). Some vegan options are also available, making this an inclusive eatery. Reviewers rave about the hospitable owners and sizable portions. On top of that, they offer delivery and catering in London. Vas Cuisine offers traditional comfort food classics that are a must-try!

A hidden gem in the Middlesex-London community is Caribbean Stove Pickup! Located right by Horton and Wellington, this restaurant at the center of the city packs a punch of delicious flavour in their dishes. Some recommendations from avid customers include oxtail, jerk chicken and curry potato & channa! Their pricing is very reasonable on their website; they clearly outline ingredients, vegetarian and vegan options. Their food is spiced to perfection and will leave you wanting more!

Indigenous-owned Manitoulin Brewing provides unique craft beer made from Little Current Ontario! The creation of this brewing is a classic passion project. Owners, Blair, Nishin and Joet, are three friends wanting to give something back to their homes in the North. Thus they created a brewing company that embodies comfort and care, something they put in all of their recipes. Some staff recommendations include swing Bridge Blonde, Killarney Cream Ale and Cup and Saucer English Ale. Although they’re not from London-Middlesex, they’re currently offering free delivery to the area! Try their drinks paired with your next family barbeque!

Giizihigat Maple Products is another indigenous-owned business. They produce maple syrup of the highest quality. Both owners, Isaac and Deborah, come from families that have been making maple syrup for generations. Deborah’s mom recalls helping her uncle collect sap and hauling the syrup out of the bush on a large stone canoe pulled by a horse. Meanwhile, Isaac recalls helping his grandfather make maple syrup as a young boy. Since starting Giizihigat Maple Products in 2012, they have perfected the science of running sap, building on lessons learned each season to bring customers the finest maple syrup in all of Ontario. They hold a variety of products from maple butter to maple syrup candy. For your next Sunday breakfast, consider supporting this family-owned syrup shop!

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Komoka Community Market Weekend Opening!

We’re excited to announce the opening of Komoka Community Market! Starting this weekend, the Komoka market will be open from 9 am – 2 pm. Before entering their market, please revise their COVID-19 guidelines. Their guidelines include remaining socially distanced (6 feet apart), using hand sanitizer upon arrival and following their indicated directional flow. If you’re bringing children to the market, they encourage wagons and strollers to ensure kids are not wandering off. If you intend to bring reusable bags, they ask for you to handle bagging your treats while only touching items you intend to purchase. Their wellness centre will be closed during market hours; therefore, there will be no access to public restrooms. There’s a broad array of vendors, and many will be accepting cash. For more information about their opening, please visit their instagram and facebook pages! 

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Feeding Your Future – Virtual Career Fairs

Are you interested in a career in agriculture? The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is hosting multiple online career fairs. To participate, please see the details below.

Dates: June 18, 2020 Time: 2-5pm Area: Middlesex/London & Surrounding Areas Job Seeker Registration: https://pheedloop.com/register/feedyourfuturemiddlesexlondon/attendee/

Date: June 23, 2020 Time: 2-5pm Area: Brant/Haldimand/Norfolk/Niagara/Hamilton & Surrounding Areas Job Seeker Registration: https://pheedloop.com/register/feedyourfuturebranthaldimandnorfolkniagarahamilton/attendee/

Date: June 25, 2020 Time: 2-5pm Area: Quinte/Hastings/Belleville/Prince Edward & Surrounding Areas Job Seeker Registration: https://pheedloop.com/register/feedyourfuturequintehastingsbellevilleprinceedward/attendee/

Date: June 30, 2020 Time: 2-5pm Area: Renfrew/Lanark/Ottawa & Surrounding Areas Job Seeker Registration: https://pheedloop.com/register/feedyourfuturerenfrewlanarkottawa/attendee/

Employers can register by emailing feedyourfuture@agcareers.com

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Dietitian Recommendations for June Seasonal Produce!

There are so many reasons June is a great month, and local strawberries are one of those reasons. The delicate flavours of June produce are in stark contrast to the more aggressive Brassics we enjoyed in May. Warm weather will continue to expand the flavour and nutrient profiles of what our local farmers will be bringing to market. It was evident in the markets this past weekend that the COVID precautions are becoming second nature, as the respectful shoppers hunted and gathered. 

Consider the pleasing esthetic of the humble strawberry, a beautiful bright red colour with a distinct bite-size shape like no other and a soft, sweet, juicy interior.  It would be enough if it were to boast about being an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of fibre. Still, the antioxidant Pelargonidin, which is responsible for the red coloration, also has some neuroprotective properties.  A recent study at Rush Institute of Healthy Aging in Chicago, concluded, using food frequency questionnaires over six years, that strawberries may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia in older adults. 

Asparagus is a wondrous bit of history dating back to 3000 BC and gaining popularity in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. We are sadly nearing the end of the growing season, which started in May. Harvesting the asparagus shoots is very laborious as it must be done carefully by hand. The delicate green stalks offer two distinct eating experiences. The tip requires very little cooking and is beyond tender with a flavour like broccoli. The stem has a pleasing creaminess when well cooked and a refreshing snap when lightly blanched. Asparagus has a generous 1.8g fibers/1/2cup and is known to be a diuretic, overall a clean sweep.

Small pickling cucumbers make great pickles, but they also make great cucumbers.  These little minis have a thin skin, tiny seeds and a pleasing delicate melon flavour when eaten raw.  Cucumbers are low in calories because of the high (96%) water content. Most of the nutrients are in the peel. Making pickling cucumbers into pickles using the Lacto fermented Kosher method does not use vinegar and can enhance your gut microbiome with probiotics. 

The deep purple-red colour of the beetroot is a clue that this vegetable deserves some attention.  Originally coveted for their edible greens, the beetroot was first known for its functionality as a fabric dye and a digestive aid.  Beets can be eaten raw or cooked, but the slightly bitter skin is more easily removed after cooking. Beets contain natural nitrates, which elevate them to the functional foods category due to their potential to inhibit inflammation and reduce blood pressure. 

How fortunate we are to live in a county that has local farmers producing such aabundance of delicious fruits and vegetables.  Visiting a farmer’s market is a way to really connect with the individuals who dedicate themselves to the noble business of supplying us with the freshest, healthiest food available.  It is worth the effort to supplement your food shopping with a trip to the farmers market. 


 About the author: Susan Smith is a volunteer at the MLFPC with long-standing expertise in nutrition. She graduated from UWO, Brescia University College in 1995 and has been a clinical dietitian at the London Health Science Center for almost 25 years! Susan has a keen interest in sustainable food systems that create a harmonious urban-rural relationship with a focus on community health and a minimal carbon footprint. 

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Resource: An inside look into a local farm

Have you ever wondered what goes on inside local egg farms? Megan Veldman, an egg farmer just north of London, Ontario describes and shares her experience. Megan is a family farmer & has 25,000 hens to care for. Her video can be found here!
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Green and Inclusive Recovery Town Hall

Picture1How can London transition to a green and inclusive city as we recover from the pandemic? On Wednesday, June 3rd, join us for a “Green and Inclusive Recovery Town Hall” – a virtual panel discussion on post-COVID-19 recovery in London.

Political leaders Peter Fragiskatos (MP, London North Centre), Peggy Sattler (MPP, London West), and Jesse Helmer (Deputy Mayor & City Councillor, Ward 4) will address questions from partner organizations and participants about the future of London’s green and inclusive transition.

Please RSVP for this virtual event through Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/green-and-inclusive-virtual-town-hall-london-tickets-106439728092

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What’s in Season and What’s It Good For?

The Covent Garden’s Outdoor Farmers’ Market opened Saturday, May 16, under a clear blue sky on a warm sunny day! During this crucial time, it’s essential to think about the importance of our food supply, health and nutrition. The desire to focus on local food systems may finally get the push it deserves as we seek out seasonal foods that nourish. This article will focus on what vegetables are in season right now and how to make the most of them. 

Locally grown produce starts slowly in the variable temperatures that are experienced in May. However, a few cold-loving and fast-growing items are first to emerge. This unique, first to the market collection includes baby turnips, green garlic, radish, rhubarb and a wide variety of leafy greens and herbs. There are some common attributes to the vegetables on this list and some very distinct health benefits that should be of special interest to the public. 

The Brassic family, formerly known as the cruciferous family, but commonly known as cabbage or mustard vegetables, are well represented in the first spring vegetables. These pungent tasting vegetables are either root types like baby turnips and radishes or leafy greens like kale and pok choi/bok choy. Even though both offer admirable amounts of soluble fibre, greens provide higher amounts of vitamins A, C, E, K and folate! There are health claims that Brassic vegetables are protective against some cancers, and chronic age-related diseases like cardiovascular disease. These health claims come from the phytochemical (plant chemical), specifically the antioxidant, glucosinolates which are sulphur-containing compounds that give these vegetables their strong taste. For optimal nutrients, you should consume these vegetables raw and fresh!

Green garlic or spring garlic from the Liliaceae family seems to be a well-kept secret amongst regular Farmers Market patrons. This doppelganger to the scallion (green onion) is usually only available until the end of May. Both the white bulb and green stalks are edible and have a mild nutty onion flavour that can be enjoyed cooked or raw. The health benefits of this immature garlic bulb are the same as mature garlic. It has a high amount of allicin, a powerful antioxidant and may boost the immune system when consumed in large quantities.  

When season-extending growing methods are utilized, farmers can produce an extensive array of early leafy greens. You can find examples in spring mix salad and spinach available at the Farmers Market! The deep green colour is so appealing, and it provides you with lutein that may help decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration. On top of that, they are sources good vitamins A, C, K and iron as well as some dietary fibre! 

A spring Farmer’s market would not be complete without rhubarb! It is the stem (petioles) of the oversized leaf that is the edible portion; the leaf is poisonous due to the high content of oxalic acid. This slightly sweet but tart vegetable is more commonly considered a fruit and often referred to as a pie plant. After 1775, when sugar became more plentiful, rhubarb gained appreciation. Although it can be consumed raw, the most common method of preparation cut in chunks, and cooked with sugar.  Rhubarb can also be frozen for use later but will last up to 3 weeks when refrigerated. It pairs nicely with ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon and is often combined with strawberries. Rhubarb is low in calories, has Vitamin A, C, K and Calcium and dietary fibre. It has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, and the presumed antioxidant effect may offer some benefits to the immune system.  

 As farmer markets continue to open up, keep an eye out for these nutritionally dense and fresh vegetables! 


About the author: Susan Smith is a volunteer at the MLFPC with long-standing expertise in nutrition. She graduated from UWO, Brescia University College in 1995 and has been a clinical dietitian at the London Health Science Center for almost 25 years! Susan has a keen interest in sustainable food systems that create a harmonious urban-rural relationship with a focus on community health and a minimal carbon footprint. 


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What You Need to Know About Covent Garden’s Outdoor Farmers’ Market

Covent Garden’s outdoor Farmers’ Market will brighten up downtown London again, starting this Saturday, May 15. Here’s how the market will focus on customer safety during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The market will only be operating on Saturdays from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  In consideration of the COVID-19 situation, however, it won’t yet be the social gathering place we’re used to. Instead, the market will be focused on grocery operations for customers to purchase essential items and support the local economy. Here’s how the market will focus on customer safety

 Prior to entering, customers will be screened and asked to sanitize their hands while following rules that will be laid out on a signboard by the entrance. They will also have a hand-washing station set up for vendors. The market square will be roped off to limit the entrance and exit to Talbot Street, where they will have Security posted. On the ground, customers will find chalk markings leading them to a safe exit as they shop for essentials. These restrictions are to ensure that shopping is an ‘in and out’ process, and the flow of traffic is controlled. 

 The market encourages the use of cashless methods; however, they will be allowing cash depending on the vendors’ choice. They are also allowing vendors to operate their stands as a pick-up point or a hybrid situation for pre-orders and immediate sales. Most importantly, they are following all of the recommendations that have been provided by the Middlesex-London Health Unit and are monitoring the situation carefully.

A great aspect of this market is the accessibility to those who bike in the city. It offers a central location with secure bike parking. Even though the Covent Garden’s Outdoor Farmers’ Market is not currently a place of social gathering, you can make the most of an essential trip by getting some fresh air!


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Farmers’ Markets Provide a Welcome Option for Fresh Local Food!

Farmers’ markets in London and Middlesex County are open for business! While we mostly stay at home and practice physical distancing, many of us still regard an outing to gather groceries an essential trip. Grocery stores are also doing their best to keep their spaces safe, but we know that crowds and lineups have occasionally developed. Luckily, more food outlet options are on the horizon! Farmers’ markets in the Middlesex-London community are open for business. When you go to a farmers’ market, not only will you have access to many of your grocery store necessities, but you will also be able to bring home the freshest restaurant-quality ingredients. 

A farmers’ market offers a different experience from a grocery store. Even at a careful distance, you get to recognize growers and build relationships with them while learning about the origins of your food. In many instances, you get to stay outside in the fresh air that we’re all craving, with enough space to feel secure. When you purchase at a farmers’ market, you support your local economy and help reduce carbon emissions from the hauling of food. Finally, by shopping close to home, you reduce the crowding of public spaces in the grocery stores and elsewhere.

To make sure that shoppers and vendors are as safe as possible, Farmers’ Market Ontario has released public safety protocols for farmer markets so that you feel confident in your shopping choices! There are two options that farmer markets can follow.

Option 1: Protocols for the multi-vendor, multi-stand market (for food sales only)

Market managers must first ensure their landlord approves of the reopening. They will then contact their local public health unit and present their health and safety plans for reopening. The FMO COVID-19 Fact/Info Sheet is then given to vendors and shoppers, while records of all active vendors/volunteers are recorded daily. When walking into the market, hand sanitization for vendors and shoppers are required and continuously restocked. Though it’s not required, The Western Fair Market even does active screening of every shopper when they arrive and turns away anyone who does not pass. Vendors must also wash their hands and sanitize their stations regularly. Each vendor must be adequately spaced so that circulation can be monitored. Unlike regular operations, shoppers will not be able to sample food or use reusable containers. All of these regulations will be put in place alongside the maintenance of social distancing (2 meters apart).

Option 2: Protocols for E-Commerce/E-Market protocols

This model is for markets that plan to operate an e-commerce model with a drive/walk-through pickup for pre-ordered and prepaid food. Similar to the previous model, market managers must also ensure their landlord approves of the reopening while contacting their local public health unit. The market must provide the local health unit with a plan displaying traffic circulation, and a delivery plan which includes physical distancing measures. This model also highlights the importance of hand sanitization. Before starting, vendors and volunteers must be screened for COVID-19, ensuring that they are healthy, and have not travelled outside of Canada recently or have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. All surfaces where orders have been placed must be continuously cleaned. Each food product will be prepackaged in single-use containers with proper labelling. Finally, all refrigerated and frozen items must be stored at proper temperatures. For more information on these protocols visit: https://www.farmersmarketsontario.com/covid-19-modifying-market-operations/

As farmer markets have been identified as an essential business, the Middlesex-London Health Unit has also posted their recommendations. In terms of setting up, it’s recommended for markets to create a diagram of the layout. When creating this layout they should consider the flow of traffic making shopping an ‘in and out’ process. Social distancing of 2 metres is maintained by reducing the number of vendors and customers purchasing at once. Prior to attending the market, vendors must submit the Market Vendor Form to the Middlesex-London Health Unit. All vendors who show any symptoms of sickness (fever, cough, sore throat, etc.) will not be able to attend the market. It is encouraged that payment is done through cashless methods. Payment devices and high-touch surfaces will be disinfected multiple times a day. Similar to the regulations we see from the government of Ontario, sanitation resources must be provided for customers and vendors. The health unit also prohibits the use of customer-supplied containers and food sampling while limiting customers’ contact with food. Markets can also consider taking orders before opening and offering pick-up service. In addition, the health unit advises markets to consider prepackaging food and having only vendors handle products. For more information on these recommendations visit: https://www.healthunit.com/covid-19-resources-workplaces#Setting-Specific-Guidance

You may still need to visit a grocery store now and again, especially one in your own neighbourhood. But with the abundance of farmers’ markets in the Middlesex-London area, there’s plenty of room to shop and support our local economy!

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