Local Food Forum

Join us for a great conversation about local food!

Cropped (for E-newsletter)Join us for an evening of informative discussion as we learn about some of the complex issues regarding local food in Ontario. With the participation of some of our Mustard Seed suppliers, we’ll hear questions answered and stories shared in an honest and open discussion. Click “attending” and stay updated on the Local Food Forum on Facebook!

Forum Panelists


Marty Strub

Owner + Operator of Marty’s Pickles – Hamilton, Ontario

Marty has been making pickles his whole life, and brings the process back to the basics. Using only Ontario-grown produce and ingredients, his pickles are brined in small barrel batches and hand-packed. Marty says that his products will always be small-scale, handmade, and local. Come to the food forum to hear Marty share about the joys and challenges of basing your business around those values, and what that looks like in the context of small-scale distribution.

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Out and about


Finally — it’s official — spring is here.  It’s time to put down that remote and get yourself out of the house.  There are streams to ford and mountains to climb!

But I know you.  You’d rather be exploring an untried market or whipping up a quirky new omelet or foraging for fresh vegetables or being inspired by an eccentric new restaurant.

Well, fortunately for foodies in Hamilton, there are so many food-centered enterprises in store in the near future, that my heart is pumping with excitement and my head is spinning with anticipation.  Here’s an overview of some of the events that you might like to attend in the next few weeks:

eventslefebourFirst in line, of course, is to check out our Late Spring, Early Summer, Go Cooking Events which came on view on Wednesday.  Experienced clients know very well that with these sessions, “you snooze, you lose”, so the first thing to do is to plot your course and book your favorites.  You may prefer to choose the tried and true, menus that always give good value and wonderful dinners, like Nellie James and La Piazza Allegra, or — why not experiment with an exciting and innovative newcomer to Go Cooking like J. Anthony Grille and Catering?  A very special treat in June, will be an evening with Chef Nick Bhalesar from India Village.  This sounds like great fun — a “hands on” cooking session where patrons will learn all about exotic spices and will be invited to take part in the preparations and take home their own handiwork.  And we’re thrilled to have Quatrefoil back, one of the premier restaurants in our area.

nutritionAlso imminent is our Nutrition and Wellness Expo, this Saturday, April the 26th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Spectator auditorium.  Tickets are available at the door ($4.00).  The exposition centres on food preparation ideas, fitness, mind/body/spirit wellness, beauty products, alternative therapies and much, much more.  You probably have been reading the vendor profiles in our blog and for a complete list of vendors check out  A special feature is an open forum and panel discussion which is planned around the topic of “Local food systems:  Attainable, Sustainable, Affordable.” Panelists include Dr. Melissa Lee, ND, Chris Krucker from Manorun Farms, Chef Ken Lefebour from Nellie James Gourmet to Go, Karen Burson, initiator of Hamilton’s Good Food Box program and Damian Wills, Local Foods Manager at the Mustard Seed Cooperative Grocery Store.

I have just happened to read an essay in the Guardian with a “contrarian” view that questions our never-ending quest for the local.  The piece is titled “Does local, seasonal produce really taste better?” and ponders our obsession with the home-grown.  You might like to read it, before attending the panel discussion, which I’m sure will be lively, educational and entertaining.  Here’s the url for the article:


So, now that you are healthy and educated, why not relax on Tuesday night at the Royal Botanical Gardens. “Spring Uncorked” promises to be an evening for grownups, with inspiring mini-entrees and snacks from award-winning regional restaurants, along with fifteen participating wineries and artisan brewers listed on their website. Peter Kline, our favourite sommelier, from Bacchus Sommelier Services will be wandering about giving advice on wine and food pairing, and, no doubt, other weighty subjects.  And you can eat as much as you like without feeling guilty because it’s all for a good cause.  The evening is a charitable event sponsored by the Rotary Club of Hamilton with the worthy intent of advancing literacy and benefitting Hamilton’s neediest kids.  For more information:

eventsewBut that’s only until Wednesday.  Keep in mind that next weekend, on May 2nd, Sew Hungry will be holding its giant restaurant and food truck rally.  At last count, 35 food trucks have been awarded a spot on Ottawa Street.( This is an all day affair – from 11 – 3 p.m. and 4 – 8 p.m. and the whole family can attend.  And this year, Go Cooking is going to be doing some special demonstrations at the event, as well.  What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, or evening — trying out the food and shopping in the fascinating local shops and galleries.




And don’t get too tired or wear out your walking shoes.  Because eventdoorsthis is also the weekend for Doors Open Hamilton, (May 3 and 4 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.).  Doors Open( )is a celebration of landmark and heritage buildings in Hamilton and gives visitors a chance to poke around in places that they may have never seen before.  This year, the Spectator will be taking part and there will be tours of the building.  No food, but our Go Cooking kitchen will be all set up and ready to be viewed as part of the experience. In case you have some friends who have never attended our cooking sessions this would be a great introduction for them.

Okay — we’re getting exhausted.  Here’s a little snack you may like to try, if you don’t have any cholesterol problems.


Bacon Candy

from Michael Smith’s “Fast Flavours”


1 lb (450 g.) thick-cut baconeventbacon

1 cup (250 ml) or so of brown sugar

Lots of freshly ground pepper


1)Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (200 degrees C.)  Turn on convection fan if you have one.

2) Nestle the bacon slices tightly against each other in a single layer on a nonstick or parchment-paper lined baking sheet.

3)  Sprinkle with the brown sugar, evenly coating.  Top with lots of freshly ground pepper.

4)  Bake until the bacon crisps and infuses with sweet caramelized sugar – 25 or 30 minutes.  Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes while the bacon candy hardens.  Do your best not to stand there and eat it all — exercise restraint!  Serve and share!






Happy and Healthy


Kate Park, our newest Go Cooking instructor, is a Registered Dietitian, a Certified Diabetes Educator, a Certified Personal Trainer and Cooking Instructor. She is also very human.

“Everyone assumes that I eat perfectly,” she laughs. “I do eat very well about 85% of the time. But food is more than just nutrition — it is also a celebration — it makes us happy or sad. So I have French fries for dinner sometimes, cake for my birthday and chocolate on Valentine’s Day. The point is to balance happy with healthy.”

Park is teaching two sessions at Go Cooking, sessions which will be devoted to living the happy gluten-free life. “Gluten free” is a regime that she doesn’t recommend for anyone unless they have celiac disease or are allergic or gluten sensitive. There is a lot of misinformation out there, she acknowledges, and people are using gluten free diets for weight loss or to be healthier. There is not a lot of strong evidence to support either of these ideas, unless people happen to be allergic or are not digesting gluten very well.

Gluten intolerance and the avoidance of gluten, Park notes, is one of the most difficult acts to follow. It’s a very tough programme for those who need to eat this way — which is why she is trying to help.

But gluten sensitivity is only one of the areas that Park deals with in her role as a member of the Hamilton Family Health Team <;. In Family Health Teams, family doctors work together with other health care professionals such as nurse practitioners, nurses, mental health counsellors, dietitians and pharmacists to see patients and to keep them healthy. Park speaks to both patients and health care professionals about subjects such weight loss, diabetes, heart health, high fibre diets, low sodium eating, and so on, from the perspective of a professional dietitian.

Her personal initiative for the Team is a series of cooking demonstrations which take place at the downtown Farmers’ Market.

“I found out,” she says, “that cooking was an easier and more effective way to get through to people, than by just sitting and talking to them.”

A list of her up-coming sessions, along with more about Kate and some recipes, can be found on her blog site, The Sensible Foodie <> The name of the site is descriptive. Park, who grew up in a small town called Petrolia, near Sarnia, has always been a “foodie”. (She defines a “foodie” as someone who thinks about food a lot, travels to places specifically for the food and goes out a lot just to eat.) Her “foodie” characteristics appeared at a very early age and she laughingly tells a story about a pencilled original recipe that she had composed when she was 7 years old that a relative passed on to her. (It was a dish which was based on toast and Parmesan cheese.)

“I remained a foodie but became more “sensible” about food when I was a teen,” she recalls. “I saw how eating certain things could affect your energy and weight and make such a difference to your life.”

In her work as a professional dietitian she meets a lot of people who are confused about healthy eating habits.

One of the biggest mistakes they make, she says, is falling for gimmicky advertising.

“There are small novels now on packages. Pictures of trees and flowers and fields, “all natural” and “low in fat” emblazoned in big letters. People should be more cautious and read the fine print. The food could be low in fat or all natural but may have other things that are harmful.”

She ponders the “organic” food message.

“Well, with certain foods — leafy greens or apples, for instance — organic is better because of the residues that they retain. But I also understand that organic is expensive and it’s not reasonable to require it in certain circumstances. Often proper washing and cleaning can fix the problem. The term “organic” is ambiguous at best …”

On avoiding excessive amounts of salt:

“People tend to cut out table salt. But 80% of the excess salt comes from packaged, processed food — especially condiments, sauces and soups. That’s where the most salt really is.”

Kate’s first session at Go Cooking was cancelled due to our inclement Hamilton weather. It will be held on February 12th, same time, same place(the Go Cooking kitchen). In the meantime, here’s a recipe of Kate’s which I shamelessly cribbed (along with the photo) from her own blog site.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
from Kate Park’s blog site

6 portobello mushroomsportobello
5 shallots, diced
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. red wine
8 large cremini mushrooms, diced
1.5 cups cooked brown rice
3 oz. plain goat cheese
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. oregano
1 tbsp. panko bread crumbs

1)Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2) In a small bowl combine tomatoes, oregano and lemon juice. Set aside.
3) In a large skillet, heat olive oil and shallots on medium heat. Cook shallots until translucent, about 5 – 7 minutes.
4) Add garlic, wine and mushrooms. Reduce heat slightly and cook for another 5 minutes.
5) Add rice. Stir until mixed.
6) Add in cheese. Remove from heat. Mix until cheese is coating the whole mixture.
7) Place portobellos top side down in a greased baking dish. Spoon rice mixture on top.
8) Place tomatoes on top of rice mixture and sprinkle with panko crumbs.
9) Heat mushrooms in oven for about 10 minutes until cooked through.
10) Serve warm.

My Notes

Park suggests serving this as a vegetarian main course, with a green salad.  Sounds like a plan for the weekend.!

The $10 Challenge – Lynn Ogryzlo – Award Winning Author of “Niagara Cooks” and “Ontario Table”

If everyone were to spend $10/ week on Local food or in an independently local food store we would generate $2.4 billion in a year. For every $10 that is spent locally $8 stays in our community. For every $10 that is spent on non-local stores…$2 stays in the community. That shows the power of community spending. Let’s empower ourselves!! Learn how!

Food Truck Alley

Introducing Food Truck alley.  Located across from the Careport Centre off Hwy 403 at Aberdeen, the food trucks are welcome to park and serve…check out this link for more information:

Hamilton Community Garden Network

Community Garden Network Website


The Hamilton Community Garden Network is a working group composed of community garden organizers, garden members, and local food enthusiast who are looking to promote community gardening in the city.

To provide networking opportunities for community garden organizers and gardeners, while helping to improve community garden policy, and educating the general public about growing food and the benefits of community gardening.

What is the value of community gardening?

-improved access to food
-skill development
-knowledge of how food grows
-greening neighbourhoods
-strengthening community
-creating partnerships between organizations and individuals
-opportunities for physical activity and enjoying the outdoors
Company Overview
The HCGN is made up of community garden organizers, gardeners, and local urban agriculture enthusiasts. We meet regularly to discuss current opportunities and issues for community gardens in Hamilton, Ontario.

Visit their network and find out just how close you are to a Community Garden. Get involved, get educated and enjoy….

Remember – February is “Farm Month”  Celebrate our Local Farmers and support them any way you can!!

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