Swedish based company Fjällräven celebrated Canadian “sustainable heroes” recently at an intimate dinner at their Queen Street Flagship store in Toronto. As part of their dinner series to celebrate those who have made an impact in the community with their commitment to sustainability we were honoured to be invited to the table.
To start, Fjällräven the lifestyle brand known for their outdoor activewear and bags was established out of necessity in the 1950s. Sustainability and reducing carbon footprint may not have been common conversation at that time but the company certainly had that in mind. Establishing the brand name was inspired by the small but mighty and highly adaptable Arctic Fox, which in what Fjällräven means in Swedish. As an outdoor company, it was important to them to not only create products that were designed for the explorers but also to consider nature and the potential impact on the world in every decision they made. They also tell us that their products are meant to last for generations. It was ingrained in the company from day one and today, they are a global leading ethical and sustainable brand that continues to move forward.
“Toronto is one of the most exciting cities when it comes to sustainability,” said Lauren Megson, Regional Manager Canada for Fjällräven. “There’s such a movement here and so many interesting people. We thought about how we could gather these incredible leaders from different areas and have some dialogue. We wanted to put a spotlight on people who actually are living in this lifestyle and changing how we think about the environment.”
It was a chance for people to connect in a comfortable and informal setting over delicious food. And it worked, conversations flourished all night with motivation to keep the momentum going. Some of the attendees included:
- Fresh City Farms – a city farm and partner with Ontario small growers and producers that offers a delivery service of fresh produce and meals to families in the city.
- The County Bounty Farm & Artisinal Soda – an artisanal soda company from Prince Edward County. Uses their own farm grown and locally grown seasonal fruit, herbs and vegetables, and fair trade cane sugar.
- Bare Market – Toronto’s first one-stop shop for package-free goods, offering affordable and locally sourced body and home care products in bulk that are good for you and good for the planet.
- Trash Collective/Trash Tiki: began with wanting to change the status quo of the drinks industry’s attitude towards food waste. They demonstrate how delicious contemporary cocktails don’t have to be wasteful on ingredients.
- The Local Flower Collective – run by local growers and florists located in the Junction. Helps to promote environmentally conscious design practices and offer support to local growers.
- Live Green Toronto – a program of the Environment and Energy Division of the City of Toronto offering the individual and business news, programs and events.
The dinner itself was created in partnership with those invited. The communal meal robust in colours and flavours of the season set the tone not only filling our bellies but our hearts. Starting off unique cocktails created by Trash Collective, The County Bounty, Absolut as well as offerings from Steam Whistle Brewery.
A “Harvest Your Own Salad” workshop led by Dee Buryk, in-house nutritionist and recipe developer for Fresh City Farms, was a feast for the eyes. This is truly the freshest “farm to fork” experience we’ve ever had and led us wanting to learn more…
How did you get here and what made you decide to work with this company?
Dee: I was originally a clinical nutritionist, developing meal plans for individuals, though wonderfully helpful for some, I did find giving out meal plans with food restrictions to often isolate individuals and demoralise the food itself. It was a few years back when I started to rethink what I was doing and look for a separate career in the food world. I found Fresh City hiring. Immediately I saw how the company celebrated food and the people surrounding it and thought I needed to be a part of that. Food became so much more interesting and enjoyable when every person involved in bringing food to the table, including the food itself, was appreciated.
Eating more vegetables is better for us. Aside from the obvious, what should we know?
Dee: There are a lot of food deserts in our city and having a choice of what you eat is a privilege. It’s my job to love, support, educate, and assist people in understanding that. No need to demonize something that isn’t 100% organic or locally sourced, but when you have the opportunity to support those beautiful green spaces with delicious veggies in your neighbourhood, do so! It supports not only your farmers, but the environment, and our local economy.
“Community” is something we hear a lot what does it mean to you and how do you work this into what you do?
Dee: We aren’t anything without our community. When I share how I work this into my work, I want everyone to know, there is a group of amazing people working alongside me to do this: Farmers’ are at the forefront of our food community and they deserve all the support. I incorporate local food specifically into the recipes I develop for my book, the recipes developed for Fresh City, and the workshops I run. The Leslieville Market, a market I run in my neighbourhood bridges the gap between our farmer community and my neighbourhood community. Any money we fundraise within the community goes to a non-profit organization, the Neighbourhood Food Hub, that works to increase food access to marginalized and at-risk communities in the East End. It means everything to me to be able to bring all of these people together, especially over a table of good food.
The harvest salad workshop is such a great idea! For those who don’t know, can you tell us more?
Dee: Thank you! The workshop really speaks for itself, I am just there to get everyone as excited about getting to know our food as much as I am.
It’s a very immersive experience that in a way, brings the farm to the group attending the workshop. The name says it all, you harvest your own dinner and learn the simple culinary secrets to making a good meal without using a recipe. It’s really a choose your own adventure kind of meal, sprinkled with my eagerness to share my fun fact knowledge on the food grown here in Canada.
The best thing about what you do?
Dee: Somehow this industry brings together the best kind of people.
What’s your favourite vegetable?
Dee: Have you ever tried delicata squash? It’s like the champagne of squashes. It is rich like the butternut but has a delicate sweetness that I cannot explain. You will need to try it for yourself. Just know, they don’t last all winter season like most squash so make sure you try before it’s too late.
Thank you to Fjällräven for inviting us to this very special dinner.