ONLINE – Feeding the City, Pandemic and Beyond: Voices from Local Grocery Stores and Public Markets in a Diverse City Wed, 28 October 2020 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT  | REGISTRATION REQUIRED via EventBrite How have local markets and grocery stores pivoted in the time of COVID-19 to continue feeding their communities? How can these local businesses help build a resilient food system in a diverse city? What new challenges and opportunities lay ahead? Join us from Tkaronto (Toronto) for an interactive roundtable featuring: Mario Masellis – Mario is a second-generation Italian-Canadian grocer. He and his family own Masellis, a grocery store that has operated at the same Toronto location since 1959. Each week, they deal with more than twenty-five small producers, and are locally renowned for making heritage foods, such as their own Italian sausage, and for personalized customer advice on everything from cheese to rosemary plants. Ran Goel – Ran is founder and CEO of Fresh City Farms. He describes the business as a “values driven company” which aims to source locally and organically whenever possible, and to operate sustainably with minimal environmental impact and high labour standards. They grow a portion of their produce at their urban farm, while the remainder of their products are sourced from Southern Ontario and abroad. Marina Queirolo – Marina is a member of the Toronto Food Policy Council, and previously managed food programs at the Evergreen Brickworks where she created a suite of programs to promote food literacy, community development, local entrepreneurship, and placemaking. When she first moved to Canada from Argentina, she was renowned for her sûrkl empanadas that sold at fine food shops and farmers markets. Jointly moderated by Jayeeta (Jo) Sharma, Associate Professor of History and Food Studies at the Culinaria Research Centre of the University of Toronto, and Project Lead for Feeding the City; and Jaclyn Rohel, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Culinaria Research Centre. Supported by the Culinaria Research Centre, University of Toronto Scarborough. www.FeedingCity.orgRegister here.  

Webinar Summary

In this roundtable, various individuals from local food businesses across Toronto’s food landscape discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the everyday operations of public markets and groceries stores. With regard to the operation of local grocery stores, the panelists found that COVID-19 health measures did not inhibit them from providing ecologically sustainable, culturally significant foods to their local communities. However, with regard to food procurement, they found that COVID-19-induced border restrictions made food supply inconsistent at the Ontario Food Terminal. Unlike grocery stores, the operation of public markets was significantly undermined by the local government’s decision to deem markets as non-essential services. Still, all panelists experienced an increase in public awareness for the importance of their work, and hope that such recognition will translate to substantive food policy reform. Ultimately, this conversation is about relationships: the relationships between communities and the food that they consume; food retailers and suppliers; food retailers and the government; and food communities and the planet. In order to survive future crises, public markets, urban farms, and neighbourhood food retailers must come together and create a relationship-based food system that provides all eaters with equitable access to food. For detailed notes on this webinar, click here.