From the tofu made in Japantowns to the ghee made in the first gurdwaras, diasporic communities throughout Canadian history have been making food products that originated in other parts of the world using local ingredients.
Metro Vancouver has a reputation for advancing the public conversation on eating local and food security, but that conversation doesn’t always include the contributions of racialized groups. Their foods are often viewed by western eaters as foreign, even if they’re made nearby.
In “Fresh off the Shelf,” a six-part series, Tyee reporter Christopher Cheung traces the journeys of bringing four products to market: tofu, bò viên, tortillas and paneer.
The stories of the families behind production lines span countries, decades and generations as they refine recipes, source ingredients, assemble machinery and toil long hours to put the products that diasporas have been missing back on the table.
The series also investigates the food systems that diasporas navigate, from “parallel” economies to how corporations and globalization threaten local production.
Sidelined for too long, read on to learn how these food producers provided communities with sustenance in their new homes and connection to culture and identity — while challenging the definition of Canadian food.
In This Series
We followed your fridge’s tofu, tortillas, beef balls and paneer to thriving producers right here in Canada. Their stories are delicious.
From a humble shop, Vancouver’s Joe family built the largest soy company in the nation. Second in our series on the diaspora food revolution.
A refugee family made Vietnamese food in ‘survival mode’ for decades. Then came their bò viên breakthrough.
Her transformative tortillas were made fresh by the thousands. But with success came sacrifice.
From handmade to high tech, Nanak Foods transformed Indian dairy with BC milk.
Diasporas produce a vital but unheralded food industry in Canada. Can we make it easier to set up shop and grow? Last in a series.