This year has been a difficult one to say the least, however, it has also pushed local food items to the forefront, encouraging Canadians to support Canadian businesses and food producers. In a recent survey commissioned by Egg Farmers of Canada, more than 50 per cent of Canadians said they are more inclined to choose local as a result of the pandemic.
While both groups have been hit hard, farmers and the culinary industry have found ways to persevere and gather strength from their communities and the closely-knit connection between them.
“Farming is integral and I take so much pride in being asked to speak with farmers and help them relay the message of what they do and why it’s so important,” says Toronto chef Matt Basile of Fidel Gastro. “Sometimes we can get caught up with life and you take ingredients for granted, and it takes something like a pandemic to make you go ‘oh wait, this is very real’ and the food system that we’re apart of is always really important, but now we have to be woke a bit and figure out our role in all of this.”
Thanks to the system of supply management and Canadian farmers, chefs and home cooks across the country have come to depend on eggs as a staple ingredient. Even during uncertain times, Canadians can rely on the ongoing supply of fresh, local and affordable eggs.
Chef Matt Basile sat down with second-generation Ontario egg farmer Anneke Stickney to ask her about the connection between Canadian farmers and the culinary industry, and some of the challenges they currently face.
What do you think are the opportunities that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to egg farming?
"This year has been challenging, however, the pandemic has also put a spotlight on Canadian farmers, food processors and restaurants. Canadian egg farmers are so thankful that we have the supply management system that has allowed Canadian egg farmers to have a strong position throughout the pandemic, allowing us to balance supply and demand but also take the eggs intended for the restaurant industry and move them to places where they were needed – for example, moving eggs to Canadian food banks and local community groups."
What kind of standards do Canada's egg farmers uphold?
"Chefs follow rigorous standards when it comes to the food they cook, and similarly, I and all other Canadian egg farmers across the country follow strict food safety and animal welfare standards.
In fact, eggs from registered Canadian egg farms are certified through a national program called Egg Quality Assurance. This certification mark represents the remarkable quality and world-leading standards of made-in-Canada eggs.
That means whether you’re enjoying Canadian eggs in your own kitchen or from a restaurant, you can be assured that your eggs are fresh, local and high-quality."
Where do you see the future of farming?
"I always say, farming for us isn’t about today, tomorrow or the next month, everything we’re doing is always looking toward the future. We all know that eggs are a great, affordable and an excellent source of protein. We see going forward that it’s our job to maintain that system for all Canadians."
Representing Canada’s more than 1,100 regulated egg farms in all 10 provinces and the Northwest Territories, Egg Farmers of Canada is proud to support Canada’s culinary community. The national organization is working to strengthen the relationship between food producers and the foodservice industry. Together, they'll help Canadians remember that they'll always find comfort in a good meal.
To learn more about Egg Farmers of Canada, visit eggfarmers.ca