It’s fair to suggest 2016 was a bleak, and somewhat dark year. I’ll venture that 2017 bursts out of the gates on a high note. The momentum is growing. Our scene has changed, we have changed, and both are stronger.
Initiated by the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance (OCTA), “Feast ON” is a certification program that recognizes businesses — and that would be mostly restaurants – committed to sourcing food and beverage grown and produced in Ontario.
According to the organization’s website, the Feast ON initiative supports local economies and Ontario’s farmers and producers in order to continue to build a “local food identity” at the same time putting dollars back into our communities and reducing the impact on our environment, according to Agatha Podgorski, Community Manager at Culinary Tourism Alliance.
“Over the past two-and-a-half years, we’ve had over 120 restaurants achieve the certification and this number is continuing to grow. What’s more, last year restaurants in the program collectively spent over $17 million on Ontario grown and raised product. That’s $4 million more than the year before that. We’re finding an increase in the procurement percentage from businesses year after year, which means what we’re doing is working.”
In order to gain Feast ON certification, businesses must meet the standards of 25 percent annual Ontario food and beverage purchases. They pay to be part of the program and must show that they have maintained the participation levels to remain qualified.
There are currently about 100 Feast ON-designated restaurants in the province, with more working toward certification. In Waterloo Region, the following restaurants are Feast ON certified:
There are no doubt more to come as it takes time and logistics for a restaurant to build and maintain a qualifying program. But it will add up to dishes full of delicious Ontario ingredients.
Feast ON certification indicates that the restaurants and producers support local food systems, so you can support them too.