Chew On This: Now That’s a Fresh Idea

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Allison SavageLike many Canadians, Allison Savage was a victim of the recession of 2009 and was downsized. With children ages three and five, she certainly had plenty of things to fill her daytimer, but took her layoff as an opportunity to find an outlet for her love of food.

“I’ve always been very food focussed, aware of the benefits of homemade versus processed.”

As a little girl, Allison spent a lot of time at her grandfather’s bakery in Campbellford, Ont. The property also had a huge garden and the connection between the earth and her dinner plate was very clear. “As I got older, and now as a parent, I see the value in that connection.”
So last February, Allison decided to start a blog called Radishes and Rhubarb ( The site is a compendium of her favourite recipes (some from her family, some not), as well as local food resources and events. But just seven months later, Allison was hosting the first ever Toronto Fresh Event, dedicated to the local food movement. The week long food festival included a Farm to Table dinner, tastings and seminars that attracted hundreds of people eager to learn more about eating locally. The festival culminated in a screening of the food activist documentary Fresh. “It was kind of a fluke,” says Allison. “I saw the trailer for this movie and it was exactly what was in my mind. I contacted the filmmaker and asked if she was coming to Canada. She responded with a letter asking me if I’d like to organize the screening!” Allison jumped at the opportunity, and Toronto’s local organic food community came to the table, filling the theatre to capacity. Following the screening, a panel of experts fielded questions from the audience. Allison has since found work again, but her initiative has opened doors for her in the food community. “I think I’m now a credible person in this movement.”

Winter fruits and veggies are in season!

Dr. Heather Manley, author of the Human Body Detectives book series, likes to introduce new fruits and veggies to her family by framing them with a colourful story:

One of the oldest fruits known, the brightly hued pomegranate originated in China, and later made its way to Italy where it was known as the “royal fruit”.

  • KID TIP Carefully take out the seeds and add some colour to your green salads or sprinkle the seeds on top of your vanilla yogurt or ice cream.

When broccoli made its way from the Mediterranean to England, the English called it Italian asparagus. Even when over-cooked, broccoli has anti-viral and antibiotic properties.

  • KID TIP Some kids prefer the stalk, some kids prefer the tree part, so serve both ways! A perfect, crunchy appetizer.

Whether originating from Belgium or France, it’s first planting in North America was around 1832 and it grows well in the Pacific Northwest.

  • KID TIP Mix lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and a dash of sugar together. Slice pears and toss in the seasoning. Bake in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. Yum!

Known as the “gem of the Andes”, these South American potatoes, purple inside and out, are delicious and nutritious, and add some flair to the dinner table.

  • KID TIP Slice them up, mix with salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil, and bake in the oven like a French fry for a unique after-school snack.
Does your child:

  • Eat small amounts
  • Favour only certain foods
  • Avoid trying new foods

Then they may be a picky or fussy eater. According to new research, more than 50 percent of children ages one to six are considered picky eaters by their mothers. Created by Abbott Nutrition and a group of leading pediatric health experts, the website gives parents tips and ideas for helping their picky eaters. For instance:

  • Avoid distractions during mealtime.
  • Don’t pressure your child to eat.
  • Limit snacking and balance portion sizes.
  • Provide age-appropriate foods.
  • Don’t feed a child who is old enough to feed him or herself.
  • Allow children to “get messy” when they eat.
  • Don’t bribe or threaten. This could worsen the problem.
The list of food contamination and recalls seems to grow daily. Physician and parent, Dr. Jeff Aramini, has created a one-stop site for Canadians to locate the news they need to keep their families safe and healthy. Includes consumer products too.

Published in October 2010.

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