2011 Hero: Foodstock Organizers
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2011 Hero: Foodstock Organizers

Nominated for: throwing one of the best parties in support of one of the most important causes in southern Ontario.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains—the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have influenced the city over the past 12 months. From December 12–23, the candidates for Mightiest and Meanest—and new this year, a reader’s write-in option! From December 26–29 you’ll be able to vote for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year, and we’ll reveal the results December 30.

It all began a few years ago with a group of farmers in Melancthon, Ontario, fighting against a proposed massive limestone quarry right in the heart of Ontario farmland—more than 2,000-acre which, if approved, would be the largest of its kind in Canada. This fall, the battle continued, and with it came Foodstock.

Foodstock, which we described at the time as a “magical forest food adventure” of epic proportions, was less about saying “eff the Mega Quarry!” and more about bringing together the Four Fs focused on stopping the mega quarry: farmers, food activists, food lovers, and food chefs (okay, that last one’s a stretch).

On October 16, close to 30,000 people descended on Honeywood, Ontario, (population: one-tenth of that) to pay-what-they-could to sample delicious, locally sourced foods courtesy of chef Michael Stadtlander and 70 other chefs from Toronto and across Canada.

The Canadian Chefs’ Congress—a group whose mission is to “connect chefs to our land in solidarity with farmers, fishers, gardeners, foragers, and all artisanal food producers”—organized the event. While the group has kept fundraising totals confidential, with a suggested donation of $10 it’s fair to think the event raised enough to build real and valuable resources for coming stages in the fight.

But this food-focused fundraiser is a hero not just because of the money it raised but also the people who gathered together—Torontonians, Ontario farmers, and chefs from as far away as Calgary and St. John’s—to support Ontario agricultural communities—which, you know, feed us. Not only was it a day to celebrate fine cooking and farmers, it got people talking about local food and the agricultural issues that directly affect our city. Sounds pretty heroic to us.