Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Ontario Food Terminal: Where Dinner Begins!

Recently I was fortunate enough to be able to tag along on an unusual adventure. One of my favourite food journalists is Katrina Simmons, who writes about food and food security issues. She is a regulary featured columnist for The Hamilton Spectator who provides excellent coverage of the Eat Local movement in our region.
Katrina's purpose was to accompany The Ancaster Old Mill's genial Head Chef Bryan Gibson, as he purchased ingredients for a local food cooking class he would be teaching that night in West Hamilton. We met at the Tim Horton's at Main and Dundurn at 4am. It was still pretty dark when we arrived at the terminal, just outside Toronto.
There was considerable hustle and bustle everywhere. A surprisingly large area of the terminal was being used by local farmers who were selling their produce by the case and in bulk to restauranteurs and other food industry purchasers.
This market is special in that it is not open to the general public: not even Katrina could visit unless she was in the company of a chef, restauranteur, buyer or manager. Bryan was clearly in very familiar territory, and seemed to be among old friends with so many of the guys there saying "hello", so Bryan would sometimes pause to pick up on this or that bit of family or business news.
The fact that there were almost no women in the facility was pretty noticeable.
Here's some of the gorgeous Ontario produce that we saw...
Fresh and juicy fruit from the Niagara Region was everywhere, such as these succulent blueberries. I purchased a whole case of assorted farm fresh Ontario raspberries from a different vendor: red, golden and black ones, too! These re-useable wooden crates are a great way of keeping packaging use and costs down for farmers. They seem to be a better idea than the cardboard boxes that usually show up at restaurants and grocery stores. Based on what I've seen they mostly end up in landfill... sadly, recyling them takes more time and effort than many cost-focused establishments are willing or able to invest. Preserves, poaching, platters, pies, pancakes, parfaits -- all perfect for Ontario's pretty and plentiful peaches!

5 comments:

Al said...

What do you see as the barriers currently restricting women having some impact at this level of food marketing?

*karen b said...

I'm not sure I'm the best person to answer that question, as I was only a visitor. But my powerful impression of the lack of females might be a hint: perhaps it is perceived as being male-dominated and the idea perpetuates iteself? A woman working there might expect to feel very lonely and unwelcome. Also,it wouldn't be the first industry to lack female role models, right? Women have moved into lots of occupations where physical strength is an important qualification, so it would be interesting to see why women haven't gone here. Another thought: as primary caregivers in the majority of households with children, the hours of work would also take away some of the Terminal's appeal: gettting the kids of to school is an important duty to most moms. Like I say, however, I'm just speculating. Thanks for posting your question.

Victoria Fenner said...

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Rubys Inn Bryce can said...

I just hope coincidence that no female workers in the terminal and probably no one really try to work here because you have to bear a heavy box of vegetables so difficult for women even men was harder that.

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