“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1825).
At Mom’s Kitchen we are firm believers that food and culture are deeply intertwined. There is a lot we can learn about a particular culture by exploring their food, and let’s be honest, learning anything via eating really can’t be beat. The foods we personally enjoy, and the flavours profiles we crave tell a story about our family and where they came from.
Toronto has an incredible restaurant scene representing hundreds of international cuisines. It’s something people from all over the world come here to experience, and it usually does not disappoint. However, if you or your family were born outside of Canada, you know that restaurant food doesn’t always accurately represent what you ate growing up. Traditional homestyle meals are sometimes swapped out for more Instagram worthy recipes and presentations.
The GTA’s expansive food scene, while providing learning opportunities and entertainment value, doesn’t exactly tell the whole story of the immigrants who inspired it. Many of the immigrants and refugees in the city are not always able to experience restaurant style food, though they contribute to the multicultural fabric of the city.
In Toronto, food insecurity disproportionately affects immigrant families, particularly Black and Latin American households. In fact, more than half of Latin American immigrants in Toronto, with children under 5 years old, experience food insecurity. These food insecure families depend on food assistance in the form of food banks and low cost or free meals to meet their dietary needs, however, when these programs are created, they don’t consider what immigrant families would actually enjoy eating. The majority of food assistance programs in Toronto serve North American classics like hot dogs, hamburgers, perhaps a side garden salad (if you’re lucky); all food the majority of their users are not used to eating.
When they arrive in Canada, immigrants present fewer health risks, lower levels of disability, and fewer chronic conditions compared to their new Canadian‐born neighbours. Unfortunately, their health status deteriorates with the number of years they spend in Canada; this trend among immigrants has been called the “healthy immigrant effect”. When we consider the low quality food that’s served to these individuals, it starts to make sense why this happens.
One of our missions here at Mom’s Kitchen is to provide people with food they can connect with. Food that is meaningful, healthy and dignifying. The simple foods that bring us comfort are important, and we think it is important to share them with each other. With around half of its population born outside the country, Toronto is often referred to as 'the most multicultural city in the world.' Let's learn, share and eat good food together!
Find out what’s on the menu this month.
- Mom’s Kitchen Team