On a recent Food Tank and Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) panel, chefs from Canada and Israel talk about reclaiming the local, sustainable foods eaten by their ancestors.
The panel is part of a series to explore BCFN’s seven cultural pyramids. These pyramids — intended to illustrate the impact of different food groups on the health of people and the planet — provide a model for sustainable eating adapted to regional diets around the world.
Food Tank President Danielle Nierenberg moderates the conversation between Sharron Bond-Hogg — the owner and CEO of the first Canadian Indigenous restaurant franchise, Kekuli Cafe, in British Columbia — and Ori Shavit, an Israeli vegan food journalist and the creator of the blog Vegans on Top.
“First Nations have lived the 100-mile diet for years,” says Bond-Hogg, referring to a diet comprised of foods only produced within a 100-mile radius. She points to a long tradition of hunting deer, fishing salmon with dip nets, and gathering roots and berries — all foods she serves today at her fast-casual restaurant.
Shavit likewise draws inspiration from the past. “I want people to learn how to go back to our roots and embrace plant-based foods in their lives,” she says, pointing to popular Israeli dishes like hummus, falafel, and mujadarah. “If I’m thinking about veganism and plant-based diets, then I’m thinking about our great-great-grandmothers that were cooking here.”
Bond-Hogg underscores the fact that not all communities have been granted access to nutritious, culturally appropriate foods. She reflects on how First Nations people were stripped of their hunting and fishing rights, forced onto reserves, and left to cook with whatever they received from the government, often white flour and lard.
Bond-Hogg says the community needed to learn how to make something substantive with these ingredients and invented a dense, versatile bread known as bannock. “Bannock has been one of our survival breads in the past,” says Bond-Hogg, who now serves different versions of it at her cafe.
The panelists also discuss cultural and geographical differences in food preservation and shifting attitudes towards nutritious and sustainable eating. Watch the full conversation below.
Photo courtesy of Max Delsid, Unsplash