Cultural Awareness

The local food movement has often been challenged for failing to meet the needs of consumers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. As the staple fruits and vegetables of many cultural cuisines are not typically grown in Ontario, long-distance imports have long been the only option for people who want to maintain their traditional diets. As demand for these foods rise, farmers and researchers have found innovative ways to make Ontario-grown cultural foods available for widespread consumption. Bitter melon, okra, calaloo, and many other foods have all been successfully cultivated in Ontario, which has not only created a market for previously unavailable foods, but also work opportunities for newcomer farmers. Programs such as the The Stop’s Global Roots are taking this idea further, by providing space and support for newcomers to grow traditional foods in an urban setting.

Just like Toronto’s population at large, Toronto’s food insecure population is culturally diverse. This requires that the food programs that are built to assist Toronto’s food insecure population are inclusive of different cultures. Culturally appropriate foods should be provided at food banks, good food boxes, and in community garden programs.

Organizations & Websites

Afri-Can Food Basket – works to meet the nutrition, health, and employment needs of members of the African Canadian community, and in particular, those who are economically and socially vulnerable.

Peer Nutrition – free Toronto Public Health nutrition education program offered to parents and caregivers from ethnically and culturally diverse communities in Toronto. The website includes culturally adapted and translated resources.

The Stop’s Global Roots Garden – a garden whose plots are each devoted to particular ethnic communities with large populations in Toronto – Chinese, South Asian, Somalian, Italian, Latin American, Polish, and Filipino.


Bok Choy, Black Beans, Bananas. . . A Newcomer’s Guide to Healthy Eating – guide to seasonality, organics, eating on a budget, and other topics for newcomers.

Canada’s First Nation, Inuit and Metis Food Guide – available in English, Inuktitut, Ojibwe, Plains Cree, and Woods Cree.

Greenbelt locally grown cultural food guides: African & Caribbean, Chinese, Middle Eastern, South Asian

Nourishing Belonging: Food in the Lives of New Immigrants in T.O. Iara Lessa & Cecilia Rocha, The Edible City: Toronto’s Food from Farm to Fork, Christina Palassio and Lana Wilcox.

Vineland Research Centre Article – describes research and innovation taking place around growing cultural foods in Ontario.