Dan Donovan

The Dish

Culture

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The high price of cheap shrimp: where restaurants get their prawns from and why you should care

(Image: Brett Lamb)

(Image: Brett Lamb)

Out for dinner recently at a Spanish restaurant downtown, trying to decide whether to order the paella, I asked the chef where he buys his shrimp. He was proud to tell me how much he cares about sustainability, and that all his other seafood is Oceanwise-approved. But the shrimp was from Indonesia and “pretty much grown in poison,” he spat out. Customers want big shrimp, he said, shaking his head, but they don’t want to pay for them.

We’ve gradually come to care about how our beef is raised, who stitches together our clothes and the carbon footprint of our strawberries. We want to know the number of bluefin tuna in the ocean and whether our chicken sandwiches are sold by homophobes. But shrimp? Not yet. People, for the most part, don’t care. But they should. Of the many problems with the global shrimp trade, the worst involve actual slavery and human trafficking. As the Guardian has reported, Burmese and Cambodian immigrants are forced to work 20-hour days on Thai and Indonesian boats, kept awake with amphetamines, chained, beaten and murdered. These aren’t mere allegations: CP Foods, the world’s biggest shrimp farmer (for clients that include Walmart and Costco), have conceded that slavery is part of the supply chain. The company promised to change their practices, no longer buying the “trash fish” from slave boats that’s ground into food for farmed shrimp. But a year after that story out of Thailand comes further news from Indonesia reported by the Associated Press, of slaves fishing for shrimp that’s then dumped onto trucks bound for international seafood suppliers.

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The Dish

Trend Watch

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Trend We Love: adorable restaurant power couples

Toronto Restaurant Couples

Tobey Nemeth and Michael Caballo of Edulis

A surprising number of buzzy new restaurants have opened in recent years that are owned or operated by married couples—and in honour of Valentine’s Day, we’re using their amped-up awe factor to give the staid, wholesome mom-and-pop image a mushy makeover (we just can’t help ourselves!). Here, a look at nine of Toronto’s cutest restaurant power couples.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: De la Mer, the Bayview fishmonger’s outpost on Roncesvalles

(Image: Natalie Swiercz)

“Would you like to enjoy an oyster while you browse?” De la Mer co-owner David Owen asks a tot-toting Roncesvalles mom, while his partner, Blake Edwards, tends to the queue of customers that stretches to the end of the narrow shop shortly after opening. De la Mer is the second outpost of the duo’s Leaside location. The fishmonger has become a fast favourite in the quickly gentrifying neighbourhood, due in large part to the highly knowledgeable staff, who are more than happy to offer tips on cooking their wares. The complimentary perks, such as free citrus, fresh horseradish and dill, don’t hurt either.

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The Dish

Food Events

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At this year’s Green Living Show, Toronto chefs teamed up with local suppliers

Louianna olive oil, polenta and mushroom croquettes from Fabio Bondi and Ravine Vineyard’s Sand and Gravel Redcoat

Toronto’s sixth annual Green Living Show kicked off last Friday at the Ex and continued through the weekend. Ecoholic Torontonians gathered en masse for the three-day event that showcased everything from locally produced coffins, for those adamant on remaining green until the bitter end, to a Miyazaki-esque solar-powered airship. The Dish hit up this year’s GLS to check out  the event’s first ever Farmers Market and to snack on the Farm Fresh Fare dishes. The weekend featured a rotating cast of Toronto chefs, including The Gabardine’s Graham Pratt and Local Kitchen’s Fabio Bondi, who had partnered up with local producers like Kolapore Springs and 100km Foods to prepare tapas-sized plates ($2-$4).

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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Dan and Kristin Donovan of Hooked launch Canada’s first Slow Fish chapter

“The power we have as consumers is tremendous!” says Hooked’s Kristin Donovan (Image: Signe Langford)

Good, Clean and Fair. That’s the battle cry of Slow Food International, the Italy-based organization with a mandate to enlighten everyone to the joys and importance of real (i.e., non-industrial) food and give proper respect to the unsung heroes who produce the stuff. Sure, some dismiss it as a sort of conscience-assuaging supper club for the well-to-do, but the group, founded in 1986 by Carlo Petrini, does have a mandate to give back to the community at its core. Recently, Slow Food extended its reach to include food taken from the sea as well. Slow Fish is about supporting artisanal fishing and introducing eaters to neglected and often delicious fish species, while asking them to think about the state of the planet’s waters—and Toronto’s Hooked is leading the charge.

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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Hooked to add sustainable fish to Leslieville’s ever-expanding range of food boutiques

Although locally and organically raised meat has become much more common in recent years, the pickings for sustainably caught fish are still pretty slim. That’s about to change with the opening of Hooked, a new sustainable seafood market in Leslieville.

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