Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Slidecast

Podcast

Food and beverage cluster part 1

Food and beverage cluster part 2

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo

The annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo is held in November at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Each year the  35,000 people attend this show. People in attendance have the opportunity to sample over 1,200 fine wines, spirits and beers from around the world.

This is a very important show for the food & beverage cluster, because it allows specialty food producers to showcase what they have to offer to consumers.

Tickets for this event range from $15.00 to $35.00

817200792658am561

looks like a good ol’ time, doesn’t it? Thats all for today folks,

Until next time, keep eating…

Hulk Food?

Food irradition is a completely new concept to me, the government of Canada defines food irraditiountitled1n as; “Food irradiation is the process of exposing food to a controlled amount of energy called ionizing radiation.”

There are three different types of radiation allowed: Gamma rays (think The Incredible Hulk), X-rays and electron beam radiation.

Why irradiate food?

Ionizing radiation kills microorganisms without damaging the food. Food irradiation is used to:

  • reduces levels of E.coli O157:H7 in ground beef and Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry; and parasites which cause food-borne diseases;
  • prevent spoilage by destroying bacteria, molds and yeast which cause food to spoil, and control insect and parasite infestation, and;
  • increase shelf life by slowing the ripening or sprouting in fresh fruits and vegetables, thereby allowing for longer shelf life.

Which basically boils down to higher profits for channel members involved in food production, distribution, etc…

According to Health Canada, the irradition of food is safe. However only certain products have been approved for irradition, these include; onions, potatoes, wheat, flour, whole wheat flour, and whole or ground spices and dehydrated seasonings.

Don’t get it twisted, the irradition of food is not manditory nor does is gaurantee food safety. However, the Canadian Food InspectionAgency (CFIA) is responsible for the enforcement of the regulations relating to the labelling of irradiated food products under the Food and Drug Act.

irradThe CFIA establishes inspection and testing programs to verify compliance by both domestic producers and importers. Irradiated foods that have not been approved for sale in Canada are not permitted entry, and the CFIA takes appropriate action if such products are illegally imported.

If you’re worried about irradiated food, don’t worry. Prepackaged foods which have been treated will have the green irradiated symbol (shown to the left) indicating that they have infact, been treated.

So if irradiated food sketches you out, don’t eat it, it’s that simple.

Until next time, keep eating…

Guelph – The place to be (if you’re into agriculture)

Guelph is hype! If you’re into food, which all of us are.gftc

The Guelph Food Technology Centre (GFTC) is Canada’s only not-for-profit, non-subsidized food technology centre. The GFTC provides innovative, confidential technical solutions, training, consulting and auditing to the Canadian agri-food industry in the areas of R&D, product development, packaging, shelf-life, food safety, quality, and productivity improvement. Each year, the GFTC assists over 500 companies and organizations, and provides training to more than 3600 people.

You’re probably wondering, how does the GFTC assist their clients, good question. A few examples are as follows:

Initial Consultation to Assess Your Project Needs

  • Generally one hour in length
  • Absolute confidentiality guaranteed
  • Steps and time line laid out
  • No obligation to potential client to accept proposal; confidentiality will be maintained regardless of potential client’s decision

Projects Carried Out

  • Designing new products
  • Modifying existing products
  • Designing or modifying processes & packaging
  • Implementation of HACCP and ISO 9000
  • Elements may be subcontracted, such as co-packing, or routine analytical testing, but confidentiality  is always maintained

Delivery of Results

  • Clients own the results they pay for
  • The GFTC guarantees confidentiality

There are other organizations/associations in the Guelph area, none as important as the University of Guelph’s Ontario Agriculture College (OAC). The OAC is a global leader in innovative life sciences education and research for environment, agriculture, food, and rural communities.

The OAC was founded in 1874, the OAC is a founding college of the University of Guelph, and ranked as Canada’s top comprehensive research university. overview-johnston

I could ramble on for paragraphs about Guelph and everything they have to offer in regards to food & beverage cluster activities. But I have to cut it off somewhere, and that’s here…

So,

Until next time, keep eating…

Where does my produce come from?

Have you ever been tossing a salad when you stopped and asked yourself, where does my produce come from? Well, it happened to me. So I decided to find out where, exactly it does come from. The answer, The Ontario Food Terminal. The Ontario Food Terminal Board owns and operates the largest wholesale produce distribution centre in Canada. They also rank in the top 5 by volume in North America (which pretty much means, they’re number 5).

The Ontario Food Board has 450 tenants who provide local fruits, vegetables and floral products. The Ontario Food Board also has 22 Warehouse tenants, who provide imported and local fruits and vegetables from all over the world. The Ontario Food Board has over 5,000 buyers registered to purchase at the terminal.  The Ontario Food Board accepts deliveries 24 hours per day, 365 days of the year to ensure their buyers receive the freshest products. The Terminal is open for buyers from 6:30 am to 2:30pm Monday to Friday all year round and the Farmers’ Market is also open on Saturdays during the months of May through October.

foodterm

The The Ontario Food Terminal is located 165 The Queensway and is NOT open to the public. The Ontario Food Board maintains the policy that only people who can produce proof of business (i.e. a retailer such as Sobeys) can purchase from the Terminal.

Below are some pictures of the Ontario Food Terminal during the morning rush:

buyers-court-1fm-600-row-b

warehouse-4warehouse-6

Hey city boys, stop making fun of those farmers…

Coming from a small town just South of Barrie, I ‘ve taken some heat from my classmates. I’ve been called farmer, honky, hick, etc. Simply based on the fact that I can see corn and cows out my kitchen window any tik11farm_silosme between June and September, whatever…

I would be willing to bet that many of those same city boys (and girls) who make fun of me, aren’t aware of what’s going down in the GTA in regards to agriculture. “The GTA Agriculture Action Plan purposes 37 actions, the  are a comprehensive development strategy for a vibrant farm sector in the GTA. The plan covers economic development, consumer education, marketing local food, land use policy and ways to sustain co-operative working partnerships.” Which sounds to me like they are going to ensure that farmers don’t get swallowed by urban sprawl and inductrial development. Either way, I’d rather see corn than houses when I drive down the street, not nearly as many cars.

Just who is in charge of this Agriculture Action Plan you may ask? Good question. It’s the GTA Agriculture Action Committee (GTA AAC), this partnership involves the four regional municipalities of Halton, Peel, York and Durham. It also involves the four Greater Toronto Area Federations of Agriculture (Halton, Peel, York and Durham), the City of Toronto, Toronto Food Policy Council Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and the food sector.

The GTA Agriculture Action Committee has a set of guiding prinicples, I suppose these are to ensure they don’t lose their focus over the course of time. The guide principles are as follows:

Guiding Principles

  • The Action Plan represents a shared vision with shared actions to be undertaken by the agricultural industry and all levels of government
  • Agriculture must be financially sustainable to enable the current and future generations of farmers to continue farming
  • Farmland value must be protected and supported through public policy and programs
  • GTA agriculture is distinct and its unique strengths must be capitalized on and marketed
  • The agricultural community must ally itself with consumers to create a strong political voice

berries-22

In every post I write I hope to educate, even if it is only one piece of information. I know farming isn’t the most exciting topic but hey, it’s important. Without it you would starve.

Until next time, keep eating…

Toronto’s Food Incubator

So, you want to be in the food business? Do you know what to do, who to talk to and how to get thintfbiprogramgs started? Probably not. Never fear, the Toronto Food Business Incubator (TFBI) is near, by. The TFBI offers a 5 step program, lasting 3 years. During this time, a business will go from concept to independence.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, applicants must submit a business plan. If you have no post-secondary education or business experience, thats okay.  The TFBI will even assist you in writing the business plan before your official review, which could come in handy if you have a secret family recipe that you want to turn into money.

Furthermore, if you want to have a greater probability of success, you may want to consider attending a workshop or seminar. The TFBI hosts seminars along with the city of Toronto’s economic development department. If you attend these seminars you will hear from Michael Donahue, who works at the Toronto Business Development Centre. He will touch on topics such as:

  • The basics of starting a Business
  • How to develop your Business Plan
  • How to make sure your financing is in place

You will also hear from Michael Wolfson,  from the City of Toronto Economic Development’s Food & Beverage Sector. He will cover topics such as:

  • How to Brand your Identity
  • How to develop your products
  • How to utilize other websites to source information

Even with a post-secondary education, if I were getting into the food business, I would certainly seek advice from the TFBI and attend these seminars. Below are the remaining seminars for the remainder of 2009, keeping in mind that you must register at least 1 week before the seminar;

How to Start a Food Business
May 11, 2009

North York Civic Centre, Council Chambers
5100 Yonge Street, Toronto

9:30 am – 12:00pm


How to Start a Food Business
September 21, 2009

North York Civic Centre, Council Chambers
5100 Yonge Street, Toronto

9:30 am – 12:00pm


How to Start a Food Business
December 14th, 2009

North York Civic Centre, Council Chambers
5100 Yonge Street, Toronto

9:30 am – 12:00pm

Admission is free of charge, however, you must fill out a registration form and forward to Michael Wolfson (the guy from the City of Toronto Economic Development’s Food & Beverage Sector) by;

email: mwolfso@toronto.ca
fax: 416.395.7573

Hopefully I have been of some use to anyone who is thinking about getting into the food industry in Toronto.

Until next time, keep eating…

Supporting Educational Institutes

I was recently sitting, watching TV when it struck me. What if this whole marketing this doesn’t work out, what will I do? Since I know that jobs within clusters pay higher, I thought about a job in food and/or beverage. Which got me thinking, where would I go for education?hk-35617-100

There are numerous private culinary institutes/schools within the GTA, however many of them are privately operated. The schools with the most creditable culinary programs are George Brown and Humber College, largely due to the fact that they are community colleges.

Some of George Brown’s Chef School Full-Time Programs include:

cook_app_brochure1

As you can see, the Toronto food & beverage cluster isn’t limited to just the production of food & beverage in the sense of a production facility with distribution to an end user (consumer). Hopefully this posting illustrates how it is not just about production and you can begin to look at this cluster differently. It is important to understand how complex and important clusters are.

Until next time, keep eating…

What am I eating?

Have you ever eaten at McDonald’s? You probably have at one point in your life. I have not eaten at McDonald’s more than 3 times since that documentary was released, where the guy goes around eating McDonald’s for X amount of time and almost dies. Scary if you think about it for a second, which brings me to my point. When I was in high school a Big Mac combo was just over $6.00, now it is closer to $10.00. Have the ingredients used in the product changed for the better? Not likely, using McDonald’s “Nutrition Calculator”  a Big Mac with a large soda and large fries still come out to over 1,400 calories and 56 grams of fat. And people wonder why kids these days are fat… Those aside, why are companies such as McDonald’s charging more for the same products they’ve been offering for years? It could be inflation, but I think that it is largely due to the fact that there is a trend among consumers. Consumers are becoming more conscious of what they are eating (especially the baby-boomers), and therefore have been purchasing organic food products, which fall under the sub-section of specialty foods. So how is Toronto’s food producing, cluster members responding to this trend? Is it any surprise that the specialty foods sub-sector is growing at a rate of 7% more than any of the other sub-sectors? I think not. Myself, I purchase organic food when I am able to. This is because I don’t like the idea of putting (for lack of a better word) crap in my body. I do this because I partake in numerous physical activities on a weekly basis, and I would prefer that my diet assist me in my performance rather than slow me down. I could get away with it when I was a teenager, but definitely not anymore. The bottom line is that consumers eating habits have been changing over the years and members of the Toronto food & beverage cluster have changed with them.

mcdonalds_is_evil

Until next time, keep eating…