CANADA TURNS 150 this year, and Food Day Canada wants to party with you. On August 5, 2017, you’re invited to relish the magnificent flavours and foods of our home and native land. This annual festivity brings Canadians together to give thanks to our farmers, fishers and chefs—everyone who plays a role in bringing rich, local ingredients to the dinner table. Whether you’re an official Food Day Canada restaurant, or cooking up an all-local dish, this is your chance to wear your Canadian flavours with pride.

“Canada IS food and the world is richer for it,” says Anita Stewart, founder of Food Day Canada. “Our future depends on celebrating our magnificent differences. It depends on creating the best that we can from our local ingredients, so we can give our entrepreneurs an unmistakable edge that no other nation can emulate.”

HOW THE PARTY BEGAN

Food Day Canada traces its roots back to 2003, when Canadian beef was on the chopping block. In May of that year, an Albertan cow was found to have bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The U.S. immediately shut down its border to Canadian beef. As the mad cow disease furor spread, about 40 other countries followed suit, hurting our agricultural community.

That July, Stewart took the bull by its horns and challenged Canadians across the globe to support our country’s agriculture by grilling Canadian beef in the World’s Longest Barbecue (WLBBQ). This grassroots event evolved into Food Day Canada, which takes place every year during the August long weekend—because that’s when ingredients across the country are in full bloom.

WHY SHOULD I CARE?

Once you’ve made the cut, all you have to do is follow up on your commitment to cook Canadian. There is no fee to participate, and Stewart creates your restaurant profile on fooddaycanada.ca

Bill Pratt, chef and founder of Truck- Side in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, is an official Food Day Canada participant. He caught Stewart’s eye because of his use of local ingredients. “It’s an opportunity to cook real Canadian food and get lots of exposure,” says Bill. “We’ve designed something really special for August 5.”

HOW DO I FIND CANADIAN INGREDIENTS?

From fruits and vegetables to meats and cheeses, Stewart gives you 150 ingredients to choose from. You can find a catalogue of home-grown delights at Stewart’s website.

HASHTAG YOUR WAY IN

Not quite ready to go full-tilt Canadian with your menu, but don’t want to be left out? Stewart is challenging restaurateurs to create dishes and experiences around authentic Canadian ingredients, and post their concoctions on social media with the hashtags #FoodDayCanada or #CanadaIsFood. If your dish embodies the True North, strong and free, you could win a prize!

RESTAURANTS CANADA GETS IN ON THE ACTION

This year, Restaurants Canada is partnering with Food Day Canada to bring our country’s rich culinary bounty to the forefront. The two industry leaders are working together to help make independent restaurateurs more successful, while growing demand for Canada’s high-quality ingredients and products.

“We’re excited to develop a long-term partnership with Food Day Canada,” says Shanna Munro, President and CEO of Restaurants Canada. “We want to inspire our members to cook Canadian. This is a chance to be imaginative and experimental with the ingredients in your own backyard, while gaining nationwide exposure.”