Vancouver’s Organic Food Pioneers
March 8, 2013
Photo: Carlo Ricci
Chef, Burdock & Co.
Beginning 20-some years ago at the seminal Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island, then at Raincity Grill, then Bishop's, then most recently at Harvest Community Foods (with a few stops in between) chef Carlson has cooked at and steered the most regionally minded restaurants in our province-long before words like "local" and "artisanal" began appearing on pub menus. In her new room, Burdock & Co., set to open this month on South Main, Carlson will continue to celebrate the seasons and spotlight local producers. "People are less interested in the ‘My bread was flown in from France this morning' nonsense; they now truly understand our product here is just as fantastic. We're really finally growing into our own food culture. Local, organic food has, for so long, belonged to the fine-dining experience. Burdock & Co. is about bringing that to the people."
Executive Director, Vancouver Farmers Markets
To feed her young family, McDonald's mom would buy food directly from neighbouring Mennonite farmers in Southwestern Ontario. As a teenager, McDonald worked in the local orchards-so did all her friends. In the '90s she started a green-box delivery program that provided fresh local food to low-income families, which led her to North Carolina (to establish inner city gardens and school food programs) to Oregon (where a highly developed local food distribution system showed what was possible) to Vancouver, where she's run the hugely successful Vancouver farmers markets since 2005. And she has big plans. "Our goal is to create a food hub, a brick-and-mortar location that houses a year-round market, a powerful distribution centre, a resource centre for urban agrarians, maybe even a restaurant. A new model for a local food economy."
What began in 2005 as an online forum for people sourcing raw, organic, specialty foods grew into a small distribution business, then an online store, then a restaurant, and soon, Marwaha was lecturing at the UN and international symposia on the benefits of a raw-food diet. But the story really begins much earlier, in Calgary, when Marwaha, then 19, was suffering from colitis, and a regime of drugs and hospital visits offered no cure. Desperate, he gambled on a treatment that seemed extreme: a meat-, dairy-, and gluten-free diet, nothing but raw, organic, unprocessed foods. It worked. In that cold and carnivorous Prairie city, he found health and sustenance. Today, his restaurant in the Chopra Yoga Center in downtown Vancouver has convinced even skeptical food critics that a kitchen with no ovens or stoves can produce fine, bright, diverse, and delicious food.
* On January 7 and 8, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 807 randomly selected British Columbia adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.5%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of British Columbia.