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Eat & Drink

The Conscious Food Festival at Fort York

Posted by Lauren / August 16, 2010

BruschettaThe local food train keeps on chugging, and this past weekend it made a stop at historic Fort York for Toronto's first annual Conscious Food Festival. From the minds behind Toronto's Festival of Beer and the Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival, the Conscious Food Festival aimed to bring people together to learn more about the local food movement while enjoying the fruits of labour from local farmers, chefs, brewers and other producers.

In a recent Eye Weekly article, festival co-founder Scott Rondeau said the event was about education and awareness -- getting people to think a little more carefully about what they eat.

And there was more than enough to eat. Which makes sense. Chef Jeff Crump, author of Earth to Table and executive chef at a the Ancaster Mill restaurant, was also involved in the development of the festival.

Marben GazpachoMarben PotatoThe food was great, with other restaurants like Marben, Cowbell, The Auld Spot, Grindhouse Burger Bar and chef Rodney Bower (of former Rosebud and The Citizen fame) cooking up quality eats.

Ancaster Mill restaurantEthical chocolate makers ChocoSol were on hand with their ever-popular handmade corn-tortillas. They had a pedal-powered corn grinder that a member of the crowd would power for them periodically when they needed more.

Corn-GrinderTortillasLocal breweries Mill Street, Creemore Springs, Amsterdam, Steamwhistle and Muskoka Cottage Brewery were on site as well. Muskoka even teamed up with Cowbell - their Hefe-Weissbier was in Cowbell's Ontario heritage pork sausages and in their Beermosas.

Other local favourites Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, Buddha Dog, Mapleton's Organic ice cream and Leslieville Cheese Market were also there.

Cheese & MeatBut there were a few booths where, if you bothered to stop and chat, you would learn some pretty interesting things and talk to some pretty interesting people. Local Food Plus, a relatively new local/sustainable food labeling program, was promoting their recent Buy to Vote campaign, where they are asking shoppers to shift $10 per week to certified local sustainable foods.

They estimate that if 10,000 people made the shift it would be equivalent to taking 1,000 cars off the road, and would support the local economy enough to create 100 new jobs.

Foodland Ontario presented a Concious Food School where local chefs and farmers gave cooking demonstrations while dishing out some knowledge. And Ocean Wise, a conservation program founded by the Vancouver Aquarium that helps people identify and source sustainable seafood, was also on hand giving out handy wallet-sized guides.

Live BandThere were also two stages with live music entertainment.

The price of admission was $18 in advance or $23 at the door, and included five food tickets. Those wouldn't get you all that far, and my guess is that most people would need another five tickets ($5) or so. Looking at a total cost of about $23-28 (depending on how much you ate and drank), it was decent value for the money.

Photos by the author.

Discussion

11 Comments

horizoncarrie / August 16, 2010 at 09:27 am
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i wish this was advertised. i so would have checked it out!
David / August 16, 2010 at 10:56 am
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Worth every penny. For its first year running I was impressed and satisfied. My only suggestion would be to change the name, I was half expecting to see health foods and obnoxious lean cuisine. The relief came when I was greeted with a glass of Waupoos cider and an all beef hotdog. I will certainly be going next year and bringing all my friends with me.
Salina / August 16, 2010 at 11:17 am
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I thought the event was well organized, however, I was seriously disappointed by the lack of vegan options. Next year, you need a whole section for those of us who include vegetarianism as a core component of our food consciousness. Thank you.
Lame reporting / August 16, 2010 at 11:29 am
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The event looks stellar - as do the tasty photos. However, it doesn't seem like the reviewer/author was there as she only describes who was there and not much else. How about a description of the foods? Highlights? Low-lights?
Jennifer / August 16, 2010 at 11:58 am
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I was there on Saturday afternoon, and frankly, I was a little disappointed. It was a smaller event than I anticipated, and considering the cost of entry, I expected that the food would be slightly less expensive.

However - what I did consume was really delicious. That
bruschetta in the top photo was the first thing I tried and it was delicious (even at $2 per piece).

I know, I know, good food costs more money than we're used to, but I was still surprised by the cost.

Foodland Ontario was sponsoring cooking demonstrations, though, and that was the highlight for me. The chef made a duck breast with a peach compote that I will certainly be attempting in the near future!
M / August 16, 2010 at 02:31 pm
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Yes, the name "Conscious Food Festival" can be interpreted different ways. To me, "conscious" food is food that is sustainable from an environmental and human rights perspective, and accessible by all. At $23 a ticket, it's not really accessible to low-income groups.

"Locally Produced Fine Food Festival" is more like it.
Eugene / August 16, 2010 at 02:33 pm
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Jennifer, I was there for that chef too. I got to eat two slices of that delicious duck.

However, I was disappointed overall with the event. Do we really need what seemed like more than half the vendors to be some alcohol-oriented showcase? If you want to try all the foods then expect to spend at least $20 on top of tickets.

There also wasn't much to learn about "conscious food".
Steven / August 16, 2010 at 03:31 pm
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Not loving those dirty fingernails!
Salanth / August 16, 2010 at 11:31 pm
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Yeah, the lack of vegetarian items was a real bummer for my husband. As well, did some of the vendors only show up on Sunday? I don't remember seeing birch syrup or potatoes with green onions on Saturday!
Tonia Krauser / August 17, 2010 at 11:01 am
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Also notable - all the food left over from the event was donated to Second Harvest & distributed to people in need on Monday.

The organizers kindly let Second Harvest set up a booth to help spread the word about our work. So it was a conscious event from start to finish.

Tonia Krauser
Manager of Communications
Second Harvest
TorontoEnthusiast / August 19, 2010 at 01:38 pm
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This was a fantastic event! The vendors and products at this festival have inspired us to ensure that our catered events feature local, sustainable food.

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