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Dear Diana,

November 21, 2011

The fall is a busy time as our thoughts and activities revolve around harvesting and preserving. This year we are aware of more and  more canning classes being offered in community kitchen settings. While canning has its’ valued spot in food preservation there are many other forms of food preservation that are as important and relevant to consider. 

Darlene Tanaka and I had the honour of spending a week recently with a group of First Nations people who were from rural and remote areas of British Columbia. We gathered together to learn, discuss and share various methods of food preservation. The focus was primarily on preserving fruits and vegetables, with boiling water bath canning, pressure canning, freezing, drying and root cellars being the top methods of discussion. 

For the past 10 years Fresh Choice Kitchens has focused primarily on the two canning methods for food preservation. We are now making plans to incorporate others preservation methods into our training workshops to encourage individuals and communities to be open to and select a food preservation method that best suits their needs, budget, access and timeframe. We aim to facilitate a broader offering for up-to-date and safe food preservation methods in a community setting. Stay tuned for our Train the Trainer food preservation workshops in Spring 2012. 

Enjoy the recipes from Chef Karen Barnaby included in this issue and the relevant information contributed by HealthLink BC  about one of the year’s biggest and tastiest harvests, root vegetables.
Enjoy your fall cooking!
Warm regards,
Manager, Fresh Choice Kitchens The Community Kitchen Program
at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society


 Here's an updated version of an article we had in last year's newsletter (Vol 3, Issue 5).  
This new version was prepared by
HealthLink BC Dietitians, Lori Bryce and Stephanie Bertani


Click here for printer-friendly version of this article 

Beets, turnips, potatoes, carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes are some of the more common root vegetables.  ‘Yams,’ an orange variety of sweet potatoes, are also a popular choice.  Many of these root vegetables are grown locally in BC.    Local growing seasons are:

  • Beets:  July-October
  • Carrots:  July-November
  • Parsnips:  August-April
  • Potatoes:  June-October
  • Turnips:  May-February
Root vegetables grown in other parts of the world, and imported to B.C., can be purchased year round.

Some ideas for preparing root vegetables: 

  • Mash together cooked carrots, parsnips and turnips – add a little minced garlic or garlic powder and a dab of butter or non-hydrogenated margarine. 
  • Toss root vegetables in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add dried rosemary and roast in a 400° F oven.
  • Make oven fries by cutting sweet or white potatoes into coins or strips, toss with a little olive oil and bake in a 400° degree F oven. 
  • Add raw grated carrots or carrot coins to salads such as coleslaw or tossed salads.
  • Add carrots, parsnips, potatoes and turnips to fall and winter soups.    
  • Use colourful beets in soups (such as borscht), salads, pickles, or eat them roasted or glazed.      

Root Vegetable Nutrition

Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating a variety of vegetables and fruit  including at least one dark green and one orange vegetable (such as carrots or sweet potatoes) everyday.  One cup of root vegetables at a meal is a good portion size for most adults. 

Root vegetables contain carbohydrate, fibre and certain vitamins and minerals.  Carbohydrates in root vegetables provide us with energy.   Some examples of the vitamins and minerals contained in root vegetables and their functions include:

  • Vitamin C which is found in potatoes, turnips and sweet potatoes. It is an antioxidant that may help keep your immune system healthy.
  • Beta-carotene is found in sweet potatoes and carrots.  It is a precursor of vitamin A, and is an antioxidant that may help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases.
  • Niacin is found in potatoes and sweet potatoes.  It helps your body get energy from the food you eat.
  • Potassium is found in sweet potatoes, potatoes, parsnips, beets, carrots and turnips. It is important for the health of your nerves and muscles, and may help lower blood pressure.

Storing Root Vegetables

Proper storage of root vegetables is needed to prevent spoilage and to maintain quality.  See the chart below for storage information.  See chart in the printer-friendly version of this article

Vegetable How to Store Tips
Beets 3-4 weeks in the fridge Cut off tops before storing
Carrots (young) 2 weeks covered in the fridge Cut off tops before storing
Carrots (mature) 3-4 weeks covered in the fridge Cut off tops before storing
Parsnips 3-4 weeks in the fridge  
Turnips 1 week in the fridge  
Sweet Potatoes 1 week uncovered in a cool, dry, dark area, or 3-4 weeks if it is stored at an ideal temperature of 13-16 °C  
Potatoes (new) 1 week in the fridge Cut off any green area before cooking
Potatoes (mature) 1-2 weeks in a paper bag at room temperature; 2-3 months  in a cool
(7-10 °C), dry, dark area
Cut off any green area before cooking

The taste and nutrition of these vegetables can decline if they are stored longer than the times shown in the chart, but they can still be safe to eat.  Vegetables are not safe when they show signs of spoilage such as being moldy, mushy or having black spots.  Discard spoiled vegetables.  

Root vegetables have a natural protective coating and should not be washed before storing.  Before preparing or eating root vegetables, wash them under cold running water, even if you plan to peel them.  Use a clean produce brush to scrub vegetables with a hard surface.  Discard cut vegetables that have been held at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. 

Storing Potatoes

It is important to store potatoes away from natural and artificial light to reduce the production of glycoalkaloid toxin.  Greening, sprouting or bruising can indicate that the potato has an increased amount of the toxin.  Cutting away green parts, bruises, sprouts, eyes and flowers, and peeling the potato helps reduce the level of toxin.  Do not eat a potato that tastes bitter or causes a burning sensation in the mouth.  Throw away the potato if it is too green. 

Storing mature potatoes at cold temperatures, such as in the refrigerator, causes the starch in the potato to change to sugar.  During cooking, the sugar can caramelize, giving the potatoes an unpleasant sweet flavour and brown discoloration.  These potatoes are still safe to eat. 

Using the basement, garage or cupboard in your home may be suitable for storage of potatoes if it is cool (7-10 °C), dark and dry.  Root cellars and cold rooms are also suitable.    

Useful Links

For food safety information about buying, storing and washing fresh fruits and vegetables, refer to this link: Handling Produce Safely (Health Canada)

For more information about Canada’s Food Guide To Healthy Eating (Health Canada) view the link at

Where can I get more information?

Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC provides free nutrition information and resources for BC residents and health professionals. Go to. or call 8-1-1.

Disclaimer: Dietitian Services at HealthLinkBC cannot be held responsible for information published or broadcasted or posted more than one month after the date submitted.  Text supplied by Dietitian Services at HealthLinkBC can only be used in its entirety unless specific permission is given.


As of September, Arctic Meat and Sausage has been generously sponsoring the Downtown Eastside Community Kitchen(DECK) program.  Every month DECK accepts a monthly donation of high quality meat to be cooked within community kitchens that DECK facilitates. Feedback from the downtown eastside community kitchen participants has been overwhelmingly delicious! Homemade meals made better with Arctic Meat and Sausage. A million thanks to Marco Jensch and Gerry Bosma of Arctic Meat for making this happen.
DECK facilitates community kitchens in 8 single room occupancy hotels in the downtown eastside and supports another 4 hotels with in kind food support, training and kitchen equipment. DECK also offers in kind community kitchen related support to 6 community agencies in the neighbourhood. Demand for community kitchen support in the downtown eastside continues to grow.

We are sad to say goodbye to Pedro Ramirez, a community kitchen coordinator for DECK. We thank him for his wonderful contribution to DECK and wish him all the best in the future. Please take a look at our recent job posting for this part time community kitchen coordinator position. We’d  also like to thank the management and residents of the Stanley, Beacon, Tamura and Sakura-So hotels for stepping up and running their own community kitchens while we fill the DECK position. You guys rock!

We recently had an appreciation luncheon for the sponsors, volunteers & partners of DECK.  Representatives from SoleFood, Arctic Meats, Neighbourhoold Helpers came as did representatives from 27 W. Pender, Flint, 666 Powell, Oasis, Antoinette Lodge, Lookout Society and Vancouver Native Housing (see photo in sidebar).   Thank you all for your assistance.   Visit our website for an updated list of DECK kitchens and DECK sponsors .



These resources have recently been added to our website's Tools and Resources database. Remember to search our database for more handy websites, fact sheets, handouts for your community kitchen!

Click on the titles below to see more information about the resource..

Take a Bite of BC was developed by BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation in partnership with the BC Culinary Arts Association, BC agricultural commodity groups and BC producers. BC grown products are donated to the program and delivered to participating school teaching kitchens over a four-month period.   The program provides an opportunity for Chef Instructors to feature locally grown product in secondary school teaching kitchens. Students gain experience working with fresh products and begin to develop an appreciation for farmers in their community as they connect with the foods that are grown around them and learn about the benefits of eating healthy, fresh and local. 

This study documents what was learned from a masters-level student practicum designed to explore the relationship among healthy eating, food security and Aboriginal people's health. The project was supported by the Food Security program at the Provincial Health Services Authority.  [Written by Bethany Elliott, U. of Toronto, and Deepthi Jayatilaka, PHSA, for the Population & Public Health and Aboriginal Health Programs, Provincial Health Services Authority, September 2011]


This report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) highlights the differential impacts that the world food crisis of 2006-08 had on different countries, with the poorest being most affected. While some large countries were able to deal with the worst of the crisis, people in many small import-dependent countries experienced large price increases that, even when only temporary, can have permanent effects on their future earnings capacity and ability to escape poverty.  This year’s report focuses on the costs of food price volatility, as well as the dangers and opportunities presented by high food prices. Climate change and an increased frequency of weather shocks, increased linkages between energy and agricultural markets due to growing demand for biofuels, and increased financialization of food and agricultural commodities all suggest that price volatility is here to stay. The report describes the effects of price volatility on food security and presents policy options to reduce volatility in a cost-effective manner and to manage it when it cannot be avoided.

Barb Seed submitted this dissertation for her PhD in Food Policy from City University, UK, under the advisement of Dr. Tim Lang and Dr. Martin Caraher (City University), and Dr. Aleck Ostry (University of Victoria).  Public Health has re-emerged as a driver of food security in British Columbia. Food security policy, programs and infrastructure have been integrated into the Public Health sector and other areas of government, including the adoption of food security as a Core Public Health program. This policy analysis of the integration merges findings from forty-eight key informant interviews conducted with government, Civil Society, and food supply representatives involved in the initiatives, along with relevant documents and participant/direct observations

and EXECUTIVE SUMMARY.  July 20, 2011.  
Submitted to Canadian Food Inspection Agency.  Prepared by Leger Marketing (Report POR 048-10) The core objective of this research report was to assess changes in the perceptions, attitudes andrnbehaviours of Canadians as it relates to food safety. A two-pronged methodology was devised for this research. A quantitative survey was used to measure public opinions on food safety and provide data for comparison with researchrnconducted previously by the CFIA while qualitative focus groups were also used to provide a deeper understanding behind the quantitative findings.

A six-booklet collection now available online—teaches that food security begins at home. Developed by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council fisheries department (Uu-a-thluk), the booklets contain exclusive content for harvesting, preparing and eating traditional foods found on Vancouver Island’s west coast. These foods include sockeye salmon, herring spawn, goose barnacles, sea urchins, chitons, wild roots, and eelgrass.

Dietitians of Canada and GS1 Canada have teamed up to make it easier for Canadians to get the ‘nutrition facts’ on the foods they eat. lets you look up common foods and view the nutrients they contain. Nutrition information is provided for the nutrients listed on the Nutrition Facts table found on food labels including: calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fibre, sugars, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron. You can search for food items within a brand or within a food category (e.g. grains, baked products, fast food, fruit and fruit juices, vegetables and vegetable products, fats and oils, legumes, dairy and egg products, beef products, etc.).


This tool designed by the BC Association of Farmers' Markets was created to help  communities launch and sustain their own community-based coupon programs. The FMNCP Resource Kit is a step-by-step guide  for farmers' markets and community groups, with tips, templates and resources from four grass roots community-run FMNCPs  (Fort St. James, Revelstoke, Squamish and Surrey). 
Cost:  First Run Pricing is $25/CD plus HST for members  and $35/CD plus HST for non-members.   For information call 604-734-9797 or email


This report presents the findings of an external evaluation of VCH CFAI, a Provincially funded, health promotion initiative that supports community-led solutions to improve food security in VCH communities. The VCH CFAI used a supported community development approach to improving food security in VCH communities with a focus on vulnerable populations since 2005.

Each year, Food Banks Canada conduct original research on the subject of hunger and low income in Canada.  The only national survey of food banks and other food programs in Canada, Hunger Count is unique in the depth and breadth of its understanding of food bank use in Canada. The Hunger Count report is based on a survey completed by Food Banks Canada's  Affiliate Members, who collect data on food bank usage at their facilities during the month of March. Data is also collected during June, September, and December, to help better understand food bank use throughout the year.   851,014 people received food from a food bank in March 2011. This is essentially unchanged from 2010, and remains 26% above levels experienced before the 2008-2009 recession.  Food Banks Canada provides a snapshot of the problem, identify why Canada still needs food banks, and offer recommendations for reducing the need

FARM TO SCHOOL TOOLKIT  (from Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition in Nebraska)
For many, the most challenging aspect of Farm to School is knowing where to start. You may already know that incorporating more local foods into cafeteria meals could be a really good thing for your school district, but how do you get involved and make it happen where you live?

This toolkit is designed to serve as your one-stop resource to help you get a Farm to School program started as well as serve as a resource for Farm to School programs already in operation. 
This toolkit contains information specifically tailored to school food service directors, producers and distributors along with general Farm to School tools and resources that can be used by anyone,

FARM TO SCHOOL SITE (USDA Food and Nutrition Services)
This online resource was formed to assist schools in starting or expanding their Farm to School activities; assist in the communication between farmers and schools; and share information about Farm to School activities across the US (includes a bibliography)


-by Karen Barnaby

Click here for printer-friendly version of all the recipes in serving sizes of 8, 12 and 16


A Scottish version of mashed potatoes that goes well with any meat or fish.

Makes 16 servings

3  pounds Yukon gold potatoes
3 pounds rutabaga
3 small  onions, finely chopped
1 ½  cups  warmed milk
3 Tbsp. minced green onion tops
6 Tbsp. butter
to taste salt and black pepper

Peel the rutabaga but not the potatoes. Cut both into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces. Place both in a pot, cover liberally with water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes. 

While the rutabaga and potato are cooking, bring the onion and milk to a simmer in a small pot. Simmer for a few minutes then remove from the heat and keep warm.

Drain the potatoes and rutabaga and return to the pot. Mash either roughly or smoothly, depending on your preference. Beat in the milk and onion, then the green onion and butter. Season to taste.



I think pears and parsnips are a match made in heaven.

When using parsnips you’ll notice that the top end is really thick and the bottom part thin. Cut the parsnip where the thin and thick meet then cut the top part lengthwise into 4 quarters, then cut out the woody core. This will make the parsnips much more tender and delicious.

Makes 16 servings

8 Tbsp.  butter
6 cups  thinly sliced onion
1½  cups  chopped celery
¾ tsp.  nutmeg
¾ tsp.   ground cinnamon
15 cups   chicken or vegetable stock
3 pounds  pears, peeled, cored and chopped
3 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced
3 cups  milk or half and half cream
to taste  salt and black pepper

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery Cook until the vegetables are soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the nutmeg and cinnamon, stock and parsnips. Bring to boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until parsnips are tender, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. In batches, puree the soup in blender until smooth, or blend in the pot with a hand blender. Whisk in the milk or cream. Simmer the soup over medium heat until heated through, about 10 minutes. Add a little water or chicken stock if the soup seems too thick. Season to taste. Serve, or cool, cover and refrigerate. If freezing, add the milk or cream after thawing and reheating the soup.


This may seem like an odd combination of flavours, but they go wonderfully with the carrots.

Makes 16 servings

6 pounds peeled and shredded carrots
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 ½  cups  chopped fresh parsley leaves
6 tsp. coriander seeds
6 tsp.  cumin seeds
1½  tsp. caraway seeds
8  cloves garlic, minced
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
3 tsp. sweet paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
to taste salt and black pepper
1  cup extra-virgin olive oil
½  Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Combine the carrots, parsley and cilantro in a large bowl



With support from Vancouver Coastal Health’s Aboriginal Health Initiatives Program (AHIP), we are pleased to announce an Aboriginal Community Kitchen Leadership Workshop.  Please share the workshop poster with your colleagues and help spread the word!

Participants registering for this workshop, must meet the following criteria:
  • Live or work in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region; and,
  • Be associated with an Aboriginal program (such as the Aboriginal Strategic Health Initiatives Program)

Date/Time: Thurs, Nov 24, 9:00am – 2:30pm (lunch provided)  (*still room available)

Location: Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, 1150 Raymur Ave.

Registration: Contact Leah Karpan from VCH's AHIP Program at or phone 604-875-5600 ext 63295

Registration is limited to 15 per class. Cancellations must be done at the latest, 72 hours before


During this workshop you will have the opportunity to find out more about community kitchens, different ways a group can work and how you can lead or start a community kitchen.  Learn the history of the community kitchen movement and the effect it has had around the province. Hear about the different kitchen models that run successfully in our communities. Experience a community kitchen first hand! Lunch will be provided.

Date/Time:   Thurs, Jun 7, 2012  9:00 am-2:30 pm

Location: Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, 1150 Raymur Ave, Vancouver, BC (Click here for directions)

Cost: $45.00 (lunch provided).  

To register: Contact Darlene Tanaka, 604-216-2325, or complete & send in the  registration form in Word or in Adobe pdf


These free, two hour roundtables are an opportunity to meet other community kitchen leaders, to share and hear about other kitchen activities, challenges & successes.  Come to our Vancouver office to participate in person or particpate remotely via teleconferencing.  Teleconferencing for BC residents will be covered.   Review the notes from previous Roundtables on our blog site.

Upcoming Dates/Times:
  • Thurs, Jan 12, 2012  10:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Thurs, June 14, 2012  10:00 am - 12:00 pm
To register:  Contact Shona Lam at   Although it is a free workshop, we kindly ask that you register so that we know who will be in attendance.

Location: Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, 1150 Raymur Ave. Vancouver, BC  or participate remotely via phone.



We all have questions when it comes to food safety. What should we be concerned with when handling food in our kitchens? What’s safe and what isn’t in our day-to-day work in the kitchen?

Come learn the basics about safe food handling in a friendly classroom environment. This is a provincially recognized course taught by qualified instructors. It is suitable for individuals who have a grade 8 or higher reading comprehension level.

Date/Time:   Sat, Mar 31, 2012, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Location: Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, 1150 Raymur Ave.Vancouver, BC

Cost:$50.00 - $95.00 (sliding scale)

To register:  Contact Darlene Tanaka at & 604-216-2325 or complete the FoodSafe Registration Form, availablein Word or in pdf

Please note: Lunch is not provided, so please bring a lunch.  Registration is limited to 20 per class. Payment required upon registration.  Cancellations must be done at the latest, 72 hours before. No refunds for no-shows.  The workshop may be rescheduled if registration numbers are not met.


Congratulations to the Community Kitchen at Saanich Neighbourhood House which had a nice writeup in the Victoria paper recently - read all about it...

Irene, Leo and Melva at our "Thank you Luncheon" to volunteers, partners and sponsors of the DECK program.


Karen Barnaby is the Executive Chef of the Fish House in Stanley Park and food columnist for the Vancouver Sun.  An award winning cookbook author, her most recent cookbook is The Passionate Cook, Whitecap Books, 2004.   Karen has been an active supporter of Fresh Choice Kitchens for over 11 years, helping us with a number of our initiatives including our Many Hands Cookbook.

Stephanie Bertani is a dietitian living in Vancouver. She went to UBC and U of Alberta and now works at Dietitian Services, HealthLinkBC. She enjoys cooking, hiking and playing with her young sons.

Lori Bryce is a dietitian living in Delta.  She has taken on many roles in her 16 year career as a dietitian, but has a keen interest in developing and delivering nutrition programs in the community.  Lori has 3 young children who are learning about nutrition and healthy eating when they plan and prepare family meals together.  Lori enjoys tap dancing in her spare time.

Diane Collis has worked and volunteered within Vancouver's social food programming for the past 19 years - from emergency food initiatives to farmer's markets to school/community based cooking programs.  Diane is currently Manager of Fresh Choice Kitchens, the Community Kitchen Program of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society where she works passionately in supporting individuals and agencies in the community kitchen movement.

Shona Lam is a librarian who has worked in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa and is now at Fresh Choice Kitchens assisting with our e-list, newsletter & website She also enjoys cooking, cycling, swimming, and yoga..

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