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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London Food Bank Announces their “London Cares Curb Hunger Awareness Drive”

On Tuesday June 2nd 2020, the London Food Bank launched the London Cares Curb Hunger Awareness Drive. The Middlesex-London Food Policy Council would like to extend a giant thank you to the farm groups and members of the London community that have been donating to London citizens in need.

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Food Bank is asking the community to consider contributing with monetary donations during the annual London Cares Curb Hunger Food drive. This “virtual food drive” will raise funds to purchase needed supplies while reducing contact between people.

The campaign will be actively accepting contributing until June 13th 2020 and is accepting support and donations in the following ways:

1. Financial Donations

The easiest way is to make a financial donation directly to the London Food Bank at: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/49767

2. Plant a Row, Grow a Row

The most fun way is to sign up to Grow a Row of fresh produce in your garden for the Food Bank. http://www.londonfoodbank.ca/learn/plant-a-row-grow-a-row/

3. Food Donations at Grocery Stores

The traditional way is the donation bin at participating grocery stores. Check with your local store or the list on the website listed below to see all available drop off places.

4. At the London Food Bank

The “drop off” way for fresh and non-perishable food is to visit the London Food Bank at 926 Leathorne Street. Thank you for your patience when visiting as physical distancing measures are in effect.

For more information and to see all available drop off places, http://www.londonfoodbank.ca/events/london-cares-curb-hunger-campaign-2020/

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Greenhouse Academy announces “Growing-kits” to help first-time growers

The art of growing your own produce and herbs can not only save money but can also can be a source of family bonding and community initiative. While many have the desire and intention to create a garden, a recurring problem for some of these individuals is not knowing where to start and which produce and herbs to plant.

The Greenhouse Academy and a number of local Middlesex-London partners have created a unique solution to help more homeowners and their children become excited about growing produce and herbs and understand the first steps to a successful garden.

These Greenhouse Academy growing-kits are perfect for experienced or first-time growers and are easily planted in backyards, patios, store fronts, or balconies. The kits are delivered to your front door complete with growing instructions and stored in a compostable pot, already planted with starter plants to ensure you are as successful as the pros.

Through the Growing Academy online store you can browse through kits to grow ingredients for fresh pizza, spaghetti or garden salad.

To purchase a growing-kit or to learn more information about Greenhouse Academy, the local partners involved in the initiative or events happening in the community, please visit:

https://greenhouseacademy.ca/growingkits/

 

 

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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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