Anita Stewart, C.M., LLD (Hon), M.A (Gastronomy), P.Ag (Hon), Founder Food Day Canada
As an activist and disrupter, Anita Stewart never believed life to be a dress rehearsal and we had better get busy. Her mantra? “Canada IS food and the world is richer for it.”
Springing from rural roots, Anita has been over the side of icebreakers into work boats in the North Pacific to visit every manned light-station on that coast to meet their keepers. She’s traveled by dog sled and snowmobile to Cree hunt camps in Northern Quebec. She’s blasted out to Hibernia, the most easterly bastion of Canadian cuisine on the continent. She has scuba dived for sea cucumbers and urchin in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and bucktail fly- fished for salmon in Discovery Passage.
She defined the term “Canadian culinary tourism” while it was still an oxymoron and pushed to make it an important scholarly discipline. Anita cultivated and chaired the first pan-Canadian culinary alliance of food professionals. Her writing spans country inns and farm markets, hotels and, naturally, our phenomenal agricultural heritage. Her speaking engagements, lectures and broadcasts nationally and internationally tell similar stories. As Canada’s first Food Laureate at The University of Guelph her work honoured researchers, coordinated think tanks, hosted events at the highest level putting Canada’s food and agriculture at the centre of the menu bringing Canadian cuisine to both the national and international stage.
She created a national event in support of Canadian agriculture with thousands of Canadians participating, some from as far afield as Baffin Island, Japan, Australia and the U.K. The grassroots of Canada, wherever they were, played – they also spoke! This overwhelming momentum in every region has evolved into Food Day Canada. Her published works began in 1974 with The Juice and Cookies Cookbook which supported the newly created Elora Cooperative Preschool. 500 copies of hand written, photocopied and painstakingly assembled recipes with a crew of Co-op moms and dads, sold out and raised enough money for some climbers. Like other cookbooks across the nation, it also forged friendships which have lasted a lifetime. Since then, there have been fourteen books both of her own and several with great co-authors. Anita’s articles span dozens of websites, journals and publications. Anita began a broadcasting career with a summer series on Ontario Morning in 1999 which continued into a long association with CBC Radio One's Fresh Air. She spent 5 years as that programme’s Food Columnist before moving on to work with CBC Syndication on a regular basis. Her extensive career in speaking has been inspirational to many and standing ovations are common from book tours to engagements around the world.
On top of being called “the wonder woman of Canadian Food”, and “the Patron Saint of Canadian Cuisine”, Anita was a loving daughter, grandmother to ten and mother to four loving sons who are helping to carry her legacy for Canadian food. Her indelible presence continues through the countless number of lives she has touched.
Read more in her own words here.