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You don’t have to be a master chef to know that the freshest produce makes the best dish. And whether you’re learning new ethnic recipes, cooking for a special diet, adopting a healthier overall lifestyle, or just getting together with friends and family to cook and have fun, top players in the field all agree that SLOW food – Sustainable, Local, Organic and Wild – makes a most enjoyable, tasty and nourishing repast.

It’s not surprising that, as Canadians become more aware of the potential health hazards posed by genetically modified plants, irradiation and antibiotics fed to animals – and when we are increasingly affected by toxins in our commercial food supply, we’re becoming more aware of what foods we consume, where they’ve come from, and how they have been treated. So it’s really no surprise that the organic movement is the fastest growing sector in the Canadian food industry.

Gary Lean, an independent Organic Inspector, says products have to meet certain standards to bear the Certified Organic label – every product that bears the label has been inspected and must meet the comprehensive set of rules overseen by the Canadian General Standards Board.

In a nutshell, Certified Organic labeled product has been raised, grown, stored, and/or processed without the use of synthetically- produced chemicals or fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, or any other pesticides, growth hormones or growth regulators.

Aside from food scares and health concerns, there’s another great reason so many chefs prefer to use organics in their recipes – simply put, they say it tastes better.

Fortunately, there’s a wealth of opportunity all around for you to taste-test the validity of this claim yourself. There’s a boom in the Culinary Tourism industry around the globe, with cooking studios offering new gourmet food experiences and culinary adventures popping up everywhere – and you don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to find one!

At Toronto’s Live Organic Food Bar, for example, you can taste the food and also experience hands-on lessons to help you “rediscover the connection between our bodies and the food we eat in a fun, playful and informative way.” The classes are held at the fully licensed restaurant, 264 Dupont Street and they accept registration at info@livefoodbar.com or 416-515-2002.

Or, if your true love is spicy Indian and Thai cuisine, you might be interested in “warming up your soul” with a 5-session creative gourmet cooking course offered by Ayurvedic Indian Vegetarian Cooking in North York. As well, they offer one-day beginner’s and one-day advanced workshops which include meals and recipes; with Arvinda’s special spice blends available for purchase at the classes. For class descriptions and online registration visit http://www.hgic.ca or call 416-434-0180.

Just a few hours drive north, in Nipissing, you will find Chapman’s Landing Cooking Studio. If you’re planning a celebratory gathering, or simply searching for something completely different, consider getting a group together for a unique culinary adventure. Chef Nancy Guppy offers inspirational and innovative gourmet cooking classes for groups of 5-10 people in a century-old farmhouse. You’re guaranteed a delightful one-of-a-kind learning and dining experience in luxurious, earthy surroundings. You can contact Chef Guppy at info@chapmanslanding.com or by phone at 705-724-2902.

For Asian fusion cookery, Girl + the Kitchen offers cooking demos as well as catering private dinners. Contact Chef Jackie at 416-577-9933 for more information. In Newmarket, Hallelujah Acres Diet & Lifestyle Centre offers culinary classes in raw soups, salads, appetizers, main courses and deserts. Call 905-853-7014, or go to http://hacres.ca/.

Meghan Telpner’s Cooking Parties are held in an artist loft space in the Queen West / Parkdale area. These are not your typical cooking classes – they are unique evenings that give a hands-on whole-foods-based cooking experience in a “relaxed and inspiring setting of an original artist’s loft space.” You make great food while learning about health and nutrition, and then sit down to a delicious meal. Each participant receives a booklet of the recipes used, any leftovers from the meal to carry out, and enough inspiration to go home and cook up a storm. Call 416-558-0233 or go to http://www.meghantelpner.com for information.

For a delicious Italian cooking experience, join Mela Vegetarian Restaurant Head Chef Roberto Granata in his classes held on Thursday and Friday evenings. Since the classes are held by request, at the restaurant at 7A Yorkville Ave, it would be another fabulous activity for any small group. Contact Chef Granata at 416-916-0619.

Much closer to home, we will be hosting a gourmet cooking class with a renowned chef. Contact us to sign up early for a great culinary experience!

Once you are converted to SLOW cooking, you can always count on finding fresh local organic produce practically at your own doorstep – at the year-round Barrie Farmers’ Market at City Hall every Saturday morning, the Orillia Farmers’ Market, also year-round on Saturdays, and the summer Farmers’ Market in Newmarket every Saturday morning between May and October.

To find Organic Food Sources anywhere in Ontario, including farmers’ markets go to http://www.organicagcentre.ca/Consumers/local_ontario.asp.

 

Some Places to Visit

Big Carrot Natural Food Market, 348 Danforth Ave #209
“Not only is the entire atmosphere totally different from a regular grocery store (shopping becomes an “experience” rather than a “chore…”

Magic Oven, 788 Broadview Ave.
“They taste fresh and natural”

Organics on Bloor, 468 Bloor Street West
“It’s friendly and close to me and they have delicious food. their organic produce tastes amazing, and the prices are right, especially for organic.”

The Healthy Butcher, 565 Queen Street West
“More humanely raised and ORGANIC!!!”

Mercury Organic Espresso Bar, 915 Queen Street East
“It’s just the best :)”

Whole Foods Market, 87 Avenue Rd.
“Great selection, healthy choices.”

Live Organic Food Bar, 264 Dupont Street
“It’s like you’re eating pure goodness and vitality and it’s unbelievably delicious.”

House Of Chan Steak N’ Lobster, 876 Eglinton Ave W
“It’s one of the best steaks in the city, hands down. The steak is tender and flavourful and seriously filling. But don’t just fill up on the meat – th…”

Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, Restaurant, 9 Church Street
“It’s a great place to meet after work….i love trying new wines and my favorite thing to do here is to ask the bartender to make recommendation! Pair…”

Essence Of Life, 50 Kensington Avenue
“In the heart of Kensington Market, this store seems to stock pretty much any type of organic food you are looking for (except for limited fruits &…”


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