The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) is promoting the diversity of North American cuisine and the importance of partnerships through a series of food events launched earlier this year.
The “Culinary Diplomacy Events” began early in 2022 and Grocery Business attended one of the most recent ones in Toronto that featured traditional Indigenous cuisine and was held in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The September 2022 event was held in partnership with the Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA). Maria Arbulu of the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service, and Marielle Hirwa of the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, told Grocery Business that the idea behind the events is twofold: to celebrate the tapestry of cuisines in North America and to recognize the importance of partnerships with groups such as the OPMA.
“We respect that people like to purchase local foods, but when local foods are not available, they also recognize the value of importing from the U.S. for many products such as strawberries, sweet potatoes, corn and many other products. So, our message with these events is collaboration.”
A group of 30 people involved in various aspects of the food industry participated in the preparation of traditional Indigenous cuisines, guided by Indigenous chef and culinary teacher David Wolfman.
Earlier this year, the USDA held similar culinary events for Ramadan in Quebec City that featured traditional dishes developed by a Muslim chef, and events in Ottawa and Montreal to honour Juneteeth featuring African dishes.