Oshawa tackles climate change with food

What you need to know:

  • Government of Canada has made new commitment to climate change
  • Food production and transportation are major sources of greenhouse gases and environmental damage
  • Durham Region producers, consumers and retailers have already started to change their practices to have less impact on the environment

Canada’s federal government recently doubled down on its campaign promise to protect the environment at the Paris climate change conference. Minister of the Environment, Catherine McKenna, committed Canada to work to keep global temperature increases below 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.

Last month, two-dozen of the GTA’s finest seafood restaurants came together for the sustainable seafood ‘Chowder Chowdown’, an event organized by the Vancouver Aquarium to promote their Ocean Wise recommendation program.

For Eric Wood, executive chef of PORT Restaurant in Pickering, there are more then just bragging rights up for grabs. Wood and others in the restaurant industry across the region and the province are looking to take sustainable food and food sources into the mainstream to promote food security and to protect the environment.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported that in 2011, raw seafood production surpassed beef production worldwide for the first time in recorded history. Over 80 per cent of shrimp sold in the United States is currently caught or farmed in Asia, just the transportation of which can have serious impacts on the environment.

Dolf DeJong is the vice-president of conservation and education with the Vancouver Aquarium. For DeJong and his team, sustainability and food security stretches beyond ‘field-to-fork’ and ‘pond-to-plate’ to conservation and environmental protection as well.

Being a seafood restaurant, it is important to Wood and PORT to recognise good food and ingredients to serve the best dishes possible. Travel and delivery of seafood is a major cause of climate harm.

Wayne Kuzenko of Buckingham Meat Market in Oshawa says that going local has been their business model for over 60 years. For local producers and small business owners like him, the biggest challenge to their business is finding local suppliers who have the capacity to fill orders regularly. Many in Durham Region are too small.