Life

The new conscious consumer: How the foods we choose impact the country

By Rita DeMontis, Toronto Sun

(Handout)

(Handout)

We are fast becoming a nation of conscious consumers.

So says Ned Bell, food TV personality, professional chef and cyclist, who is the Ocean Wise executive chef at the Vancouver Aquarium, and founder of Chefs for Oceans. A finalist for the 2017 Seafood Champion Award for Advocacy (to be announced in June) Bell has a reputation as a culinary influencer, noting that "Canadians have never been more aware of what they eat and how it impacts not only our body, but the world around us."

He knows of what he speaks - this award-winning chef has biked 8,700 km across Canada and hosted dozens of events featuring some of the finest chefs in the country to raise awareness for sustainable seafood, and healthy lakes, oceans and rivers.

A member of the Loblaw Food Council that identifies food trends, Bell says the "new conscious consumer" is someone who "explores new food options based on a desire to cook with ingredients that are produced sustainably and from local sources, while actively looking for alternatives to meat-based sources of protein and reducing waste while cooking."

Bell says the conscious consumer is all about global responsibility, and making food choices that are not only good for the consumer, but good for the planet too.

"My work...is all about engaging, educating and raising awareness about the importance of healthy lakes, oceans and rivers across Canada and, with that, sustainable seafood," says Bell, adding "as a member of the Loblaw Food Council, I’ve worked with chefs and culinary experts across Canada to identify areas that can directly impact Canadian consumers and the future of our food landscape in our country. It’s important for me to help bring awareness to the growing trend of conscious consumption."

***

Bell offers the following tips to making the right food choices:

1. FOLLOW THE SEASONS: Make fruit and vegetable choices based on what is the freshest in the market and the most in-season.

2. GLOBALLY INSPIRED, LOCALLY CREATED: Look to incorporate global flavours into locally sourced family meals by trying different spices or sauces. Examples: za'atar, turmeric and togarashi, are increasingly making their way into Canadian homes.

3: COOK WITH SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD: At least once a week: You make great meals and amazing impact on the world's waters.

4: COOK WITH YOUR FAMILY: When everyone is involved in cooking meals, they become more educated on what they are using to fuel their bodies.

5: TRY SOMETHING NEW EVERY MONTH: Swap your standard-go to for something different.

***

WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD?

Sustainable seafood can be defined as species that are caught or farmed in a way that ensures the long-term health and stability of that species, as well as the greater marine ecosystem. Ocean Wise defines sustainability based on four criteria:

- Abundant and resilient to fishing pressures.

- Well managed with a comprehensive management plan based on current research.

- Harvested in a method that ensures limited bycatch on non-target and endangered species.

- Harvested in ways that limit damage to marine or aquatic habitats and negative interactions with other species.

- Courtesy Oceanwise.ca.

RECIPES:

 

PAN SEARED SHRIMP TOAST

With Tomato, Lime & Kimchi Mayo

Courtesy Ned Bell.

  • 12 ASC-certified farmed jumbo Pacific white shrimp (or any other sustainably-certified jumbo shrimp)
  • 1 Tbsp. (15mL) canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp. (15mL) butter
  • 1 Tbsp. (15mL) lime juice
  • 1 tsp. (5mL) sea salt
  • 1 loaf favourite bread (baguette)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Oven Roasted Tomato, Lime & Kimchi Mayo
  • 1 cup (250mL) store bought mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup (60mL) drained prepared kimchi (fermented cabbage)
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 1/4 tsp. (1mL) sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp. (30mL) tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. (2mL) siracha hot sauce (optional)
  • Chopped herbs (chives or scallions)
  • Lime zest

In a medium-large sized fry/saute pan, over medium-high heat, add canola oil, add prawns and pan sear until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes total. Add butter, lime juice and salt to shrimp.

Meanwhile, cut loaf of bread into 1/2-inch slices, rub each slice with a clove of garlic and brush bread with olive oil. Once brushed, toast bread in a pre-heated 325F (160C) oven until light golden brown

Tomato, Lime & Kimchi Mayo: In a blender, puree remainder of ingredients except for chopped herbs and place in an airtight container. (Spread will last for a week.)

To Assemble the Dish:

Spread 1 Tbsp. (15mL) of mayo on each piece of toast. Place 2 shrimp on top and garnish with 1 tsp. (5mL) of chopped herbs. Finish with some lime zest.

Serves 4.

LIME CURD PAVLOVA WITH FRESH BERRIES

This is a fantastic recipe and can be made with lime, lemon, orange or combination of any citrus fruit. Adapted from a Ned Bell recipe.

  • 4 whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • Juice of 5 limes plus zest from 3 of those limes
  • 1-1/4 cups (310mL) sugar
  • 1 cup (250mL) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 sheet gelatin
  • Store bought meringue nests
  • Fresh seasonal berries
  • Mint leaves
  • Zest of one orange

In a stainless steel, heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water, whisk together eggs, sugar, lime juice and zest from 3 of the limes. While gently stirring, add butter one cube at a time, letting cubes melt before adding more. Whisk constantly, scraping bottom of bowl each time until mixture thickens to coat a spoon. Do not let mixture boil.

Once thickened, remove from heat and whisk in gelatin. Strain mixture through mesh strainer and then pour into a clean bowl. Cover with cling wrap directly on lime curd to prevent any skin from forming when cooling. Place bowl in fridge for an hour.

To assemble dish: After curd has cooled, spoon 3 Tbsp. (45mL) into a pre-made/store bought Pavlova meringue or individual meringues. Garnish with fresh seasonal berries, some fresh mint leaves and orange zest.

Serves 4.