by Zara Fischer-Harrison

Lori Stahlbrand and Chris Alward from Local Food Plus at Fort York

Bringing sustainable food to the masses, the First Annual Conscious Food Festival, August 14th and 15th, is poised to show Torontonians what good food is all about. For less than the cost of admission to most of our major arts institutions, and far less than a meal in one of the many restaurants participating in the event, everyone has the opportunity to experience a delicious food celebration at Historic Fort York. Set amongst 19th century barracks and mess halls, cannons and soldiers in funny hats, the Conscious Food Festival “will demonstrate the growth of the local sustainable food movement and increase recognition of the role it plays in creating a sustainable future”, says Emma Brown of Power Juncture, the driving force behind the event. The festival invites folks to come out and meet local farmers, processors, chefs, and organizations leading us to change how we choose what to put on our plates.

Local Food Plus, the presenting sponsor, is inviting guests to come and enjoy the festivities, and to take part in their new campaign, Buy it to Vote, suggesting that the simple act of shifting $10.00 per week of your grocery dollars to certified local sustainable food will help to save the environment and support local farmers. Lori Stahlbrand, founder and president of LFP, noted that according to the research and number crunching conducted by Dr. Rod McRae, a senior food policy analyst at LFP and professor at York University, this $10.00 shift, pledged and implemented by 10,000 people would be equivalent to taking 1,000 cars off the road each year, and would support the local economy enough to create 100 new jobs. They’ll feed you ice cream, give you a nifty little button, and send regionally relevant information about how to access good food in your neck of the woods.

Muskoka Brewery's Jonathan Graham mixes up the beermosas.

You can look forward to five sample vouchers with the cost of admission to the event, $18.00 in advance or $23.00 at the gate, and redeem them, and any more you choose to purchase for $1.00 a pop, at 45 booths including 20 of Toronto and region’s top restaurants. Participants include Mark Cutrara of Cowbell restaurant serving Berkshire Pork Sausage, the Muskoka Brewery from Bracebridge offering up Jefe Weissbeer Beermosas, and Mapleton’s Dairy scooping their famous organic ice creams and frozen yogurt straight from the farm. Almost all of the vendors are from within 100 kilometers of Fort York and will truly give people a sense and scope of our local flavour.

Scott Rondeau, of Power Juncture and the force behind Toronto’s Festival of Beer and Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival, wanted to host a celebration of good food by switching up the dynamic from the more common, high-priced charity events, which have been very effective and which he thinks are great, to a more accessible promotion of the growing sustainable food movement, hopefully introducing thousands of people to food that is local, natural, healthy and delicious.

Curried cabbage made from produce from Fort York's heritage garden in its early 19th C. kitchens.

As the season’s harvest fills bushel baskets and grocery carts all over Ontario with the region’s finest fare, guests are encouraged to attend the festival with an appetite and empty shopping bags, being given the opportunity for both to be brimming by the end of the day.

The festival runs August 14th and 15th, both days from 11am to 7pm and Fort York National Historic Site. See

Zara Fischer-Harrison is a Toronto-based, perpetual pupil of all things food. She works and plays in various capacities in the good food movement.  Read her blog at