Cultivate Magazine - 2023 edition

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2023 edition | issue 05

Ultimately Stronger Women led food and beverage businesses

Product of the Year and BCFB Awards News & Community featuring - Food Stash, Food Runners, Rad Relish, Protein Powered, & Good to Grow

The family businesses that bring us to the dinner table


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this issue News & Community 5

A NOTE FROM JAMES

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THE BEST OF BC'S FOOD & BEVERAGE INDUSTRY Product of the Year & BCFB Awards

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HAND IN HAND Food Stash & Food Runners Partnership

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FAMILY HISTORY INSPIRES UNIQUE PRODUCTS FOR 2 OKANAGAN COMPANIES Rad Relish & Protein Powered

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GROWING TOGETHER Good to Grow and BCFB Collaboration

Supper Time The family businesses that bring us to the dinner table

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ALKEME

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GRANDPA J'S

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EARTHLING FOODS

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BARAKAH EATS

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KASLO SOURDOUGH

Ultimately Stronger Women led food and beverage businesses

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LORI JOYCE | Betterwith Ice Cream

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CATHLINE JAMES | Wise Bites

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DESTINY & KELSEY | Bangin' Bannock

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HEATHER & HALEY | Nonno's Pasta Shop

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WeBC Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in BC

Cultivate Magazine is published once per year by BC Food & Beverage. 310 9440 202 Street, Langley BC, V1M 4A6. No part of these publications may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher. Every effort is made to avoid errors and omissions. If you notice an error, please accept our sincere apologies and notify us.. Publication Mail agreement # 43521018. ADVERTISING INQUIRES info@bcfb.ca STORIES Sierra Simpson DESIGN Kelly Gaull PRINTING Glenmore Custom Print + Packaging STORY CONTRIBUTORS page 23 Alisa Hutton, page 14 Karen Ann Davidson PHOTO CREDIT pages 7& 8 Jamie Poh Creative jamiepoh.com


Welcome to our issue of Cultivate Magazine! After so much uncertainty over the past few years and working the virtual life, 2022 brought us back together, live and in person. Foodpro22 was a big success and marked the first major live event we’d had since September 2019. It was amazing for the BCFB team to see so many people face to face and what struck me was the realization of how many relationships we’ve all developed in recent years without having ever met in person. I’ll remember 2022 as a year of reconnecting and an opportunity to build community in our industry. I can speak on behalf of all our team, it has felt great. As we were planning this issue of Cultivate, it resonated for us that we should focus on family and community as we have all realized how incredibly important this is. The best part for us is at long last we can come out and see our members. There’s no substitute for seeing and hearing firsthand the issues and opportunities our members see, and to better understand their needs and expectations of us. There is never a shortage of inspiration, incredible companies and products in BC, and we are always honored to be a part of those that make up our collective food & beverage industry. Planning out our year has been a difficult challenge for the past few years amid all the uncertainty, but looking ahead, we’re excited about what’s in store for 2023 as we continue to build community and better connectivity with – and for – our members. As our membership grows and evolves, BCFB is also dedicated to strengthening our offering for members of all sizes. We are continuing to build on our Grow, Connect and Lead programs and events, including the return of our popular Breakfast Series – a quarterly event where we tackle issues and opportunities that are relevant to all members, and a great place to network and connect. As part of this, we’re evolving our Peer Groups into a Roundtable Series, which will tackle functional topics that will benefit both small entrepreneurs and professionals from our larger member companies. Included in this is the introduction of an Industry Leadership Series, for industry leadership to weigh in on key challenges facing our industry and explore solutions for BCFB to advocate on our members behalf. Finally, I can’t express how happy we were to celebrate industry live and in person with our members at the 2022 BCFB Awards this past November after a 3-year absence. It was a great night, and we look forward for more celebrations with you in 2023 as we continue to build a stronger industry community. In the meantime, enjoy this issue of Cultivate! We’re very proud of it and hope you are too.

James Donaldson, BC Food & Beverage CEO

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Celebrating

THE BEST OF BC'S FOOD & BEVERAGE INDUSTRY Product of the Year & BCFB Awards

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BC Food & Beverage's Product of the Year competition was held at the Dirty Apron on October 3rd this year. This flagship award goes to BC-made products judged by taste, packaging, innovation, marketability. From pear soda and chocolate to yummy greek potatoes and soy-free tofu the judges tasted and heard pitches from the 10 finalists in a cooking competition setting to determine this year's winners; Gold, Silver and Bronze.

GOLD Soy-Free Tofu Big Mountain Foods

Congratulations to all that competed at this year's fun and collaborative event, we can't wait to see what next year brings!

f inalists

SILVER

Teriyaki Om Noms, Yumasoy Foods

Almond Lavender Dream Magick Latte, Wild Remedies

Pear Soda Farming Karma

Vegan Potato & Chorizo Taquitos, Lita's Mexican Foods Mac & Greens, Komo Comfort Foods Soy-Free Tofu, Big Mountain Foods Greko Lemon Roast Potatoes Seasoning, Grandpa J's Pear Soda, Farming Karma

BRONZE

Vegan Hawaiian Black Salt Caramels, Purdys Chocolatier Plant Based Tzatziki, Justo's Plant Based Dips Death by Garlic Dairy-Free Cream Cheese, Living Tree Foods

PICTURED: page 6 Wild Remedies, Krysta Francoeur page 7 Judges and competitors at the Product of the Year competition PHOTOS BY: Jamie Poh Creative jamiepoh.com

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Vegan Hawaiian Black Salt Caramels Purdys Chocolatier


s n o i t a l u t a r g n o C

The 15th annual BC Food & Beverage Awards was held on November 3rd at The Rocky Mountaineer Station in Vancouver. This annual event celebrates the accomplishments of companies, products and individuals that have truly made an impact in the BC food and beverage industry. This year the selection of winners went to YOU, the public, through an online vote for the top 3 finalists in each category. We would like to thank everyone that participated in the entire process of selecting the winners this year. Without this show of love from all of you, our amazing food and beverage community couldn't have come together in such a great way to celebrate this industry that we all love so much! Congratulations to all of this year's finalists and winners.

Winners Best in Brand – FATSO Emerging Business – Yoggu!

2022

Export – Dan-D Foods

LEFT COAST NATURALS

Indigenous Led Business of the Year – Locality Brewing Innovation – Big Mountain Foods Leadership – Aaron Chin, Organika Health Products Outstanding Workplace – Health & Safety – Vancouver Island Brewing

Hall of Fame

People’s Choice – Panela Lemon

Inductee

Social Impact – Cascadia Seaweed Sustainability – Soul Bite Food Woman Entrepreneur of the Year – Jade Hermann, Yoggu! PRODUCT OF THE YEAR GOLD - Soy-Free Tofu, Big Mountain Foods SILVER - Pear Soda, Farming Karma BRONZE - Vegan Hawaiian Black Salt Caramels, Purdys Chocolatier

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HAND IN HAND

“Food waste is a massive challenge in the food industry, and it’s time we start taking it seriously,” says Ben Liegey, the CEO and co-founder of Rethink2gether, a Vancouverbased consulting company helping hotels and restaurants prevent food waste and improve their bottom line.

Story by Sierra Simpson

“Every year, Canadians throw away billions of dollars worth of food – $49 billion per year in avoidable food waste, to be exact – and it’s a huge environmental problem. Reducing food waste is a powerful climate solution, the potential is there, but we just need to do something about it,” says Liegey. According to a year-long research project undertaken by Second Harvest and Value Chain Management International, 58% of all the food produced in Canada is wasted or lost, and 32% of this food is edible and could be used to support communities. These are staggering numbers, and the fact that we are throwing away viable food is alarming on three fronts: right now, 1 in 7 Canadians are experiencing food insecurity, and it is equally concerning that wasted food creates 56.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions annually – or 8% of our country’s carbon footprint. Additionally, it is impacting food businesses with tight margins, especially now given rising food price inflation. Addressing food waste seems like an obvious low-hanging fruit to tackle these problems. Thankfully, there are companies and organizations actively addressing the issue of food waste, and most importantly, they are working together. Case in point is the collaboration happening in Vancouver between Rethink2gether, Food Stash Foundation, and Vancouver Food Runners. Food Stash is a food recovery charity focused on collecting surplus food from grocery stores and wholesalers; and Vancouver Food Runners is a charity that uses innovative app technology and volunteer drivers to redirect food from businesses that have not historically had a way to donate their surplus food, including restaurants, hotels, catering and meal prep companies, cafeterias, campuses, and even the film industry.

COLLABORATION IS KEY According to Carla Pellegrini, the Executive Direction of Food Stash Foundation, “Collaboration is key. Food waste is a complex challenge across the food chain, and there is no single actor that’s going to solve this problem. We need a holistic approach if we’re going to find ways to prevent food waste from happening in the first place.” This is where Rethink2gether comes in, helping commercial kitchens reduce food costs through food waste prevention training, technology, and a certification program: The PLEDGE™ on Food Waste. Food costs can be reduced by 3-7%, saving on average $15K per year for food businesses; but if there is still surplus food, this is where food recovery organizations, like Food Stash and Vancouver

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Food Runners, step in to support. In British Columbia, it is important to note that the BC Food Donor Encouragement Act (1997) provides protection from liability for businesses and organizations donating food in good faith. Food Stash and Vancouver Food Runners work in partnership to ensure no food goes to waste in Vancouver. As Michelle Reining, the Executive Director of Vancouver Food Runners, explains, “When we get a call about a large donation, over 20 boxes of food, that’s when we reach out to Food Stash, as they have trucks to support with this size of collection. At the same time, when Food Stash get calls about smaller food donations, they connect with us. We work back and forth throughout the month to ensure no food goes to waste in the city.” Because Vancouver Food Runners partners with agile volunteer food drivers, they can collect smaller food donations (between 2 – 15 boxes in size) and respond to pick up requests on the same day. Working in partnership, these two organizations increase their collective impact. Together, Food Stash and Vancouver Food Runners are rescuing and redistributing over 140,000 pounds of food each month (over 116,000 equivalent meals). They collectively reach over 70 nonprofits with their food donations. Food Stash also delivers low-cost groceries to 110 households through its Rescued Food Box Program and serves hundreds of community members through its weekly Rescued Food Market. With food prices increasing, this low-barrier and affordable access to food is a lifeline for nonprofits and community members who are struggling to make ends meet. Pellegrini says, “One of our core values at Food Stash is collaboration, and we live it every day; we ‘do what we do best, and partner for the rest’, so that we’re always using our limited resources as efficiently as possible. We work with other organizations, like Rethink2gether and Vancouver Food Runners, to identify gaps in services, learn from one another's best practices, and do our food waste prevention work more effectively. It’s satisfying and heartening to tackle this challenge together.”

58%

of all the food produced in Canada is wasted or lost

32%

of this food is edible and could be used to support communities.

LEARN MORE To learn more about how you can prevent food waste in your business contact:

Rethink2gether 604-700-7587 ben@rethinktogether.com www.rethink2gether.com

Food Stash Foundation director@foodstash.ca www.FoodStash.ca WASTED FOOD CREATES

56.5

million tonnes

Vancouver Food Runners 236-471-4728 michelle@vancouvers.com of CO2 equilvalent emissions annually

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www.vancouverfoodrunners.com

CULTIVATE MAGAZINE 2023 edit ion



story by KAREN ANN DAVIDSON


FAMILY HISTORY inspires UNIQUE products FOR 2 OKANAGAN COMPANIES What do you think Relish and Protein pancakes have in common? Well lets see, both businesses I am highlighting are Okanagan based, both are Indigenous owned and run, and they are both unique products in the British Columbia food industry. Shall we…

Story and photos by Karen Ann Davidson karenanndavidson.ca

LET’S

meet Garrett Millsap, the owner of Rad Relish. A unique spin on relish because it is made out of zucchini and not cucumbers. Garrett’s grandma Peg was the inspiration around this Metis food business.

Rad Relish was born when Garrett’s friend Kyla King, now business partner, was over for a family barbecue and tried the infamous Grandma Peg’s zucchini relish. Kyla was impressed and told Garrett they should make it. This was pre covid when Garrett was juggling a full plate. Then during covid Garrett was in the grocery stores and couldn’t find any indigenous made foods represented on the shelves or in the coolers. During this aha moment, he reached out to Kyla and said “Let’s do it.” The ball was now rolling and Kyla, a red seal chef made the first batch which was initially called “Peg’s Old Fashioned Relish” You guessed it, it was a huge hit. The next step was to find retailers to sell the newly named “Rad Relish”. Metis Nation British Columbia approved Rad Relish to utilize their logo which graces every jar of Rad Relish. This was an important step for Garrett and Kyla, as they want to educate consumers on who the Metis people are in Canada. Metis Elder Peggy Millsap, now 92 years old, is Garrett’s grandmother and the original Rad Relish creator. This is a legacy Peggy Millsap started in the 1940’s. In today's marketplace, Rad Relish is one of the very few Indigenous food products available at Canadian grocery stores. It also

rises to the top as the only Metis owned and Metis made food product. The bigger picture for the brand is to perforate the mass grocery market in Canada. For the obvious reason of getting Rad Relish into more household fridges. Another goal for Garrett is to do the heavy lifting that will hopefully pave a path for other Metis food businesses getting their products into stores. Rad Relish is zucchini based and uses all local vegetables from Payntner’s Fruit Market, which is a few short kilometers away from the production facility. Making it extra fresh as the produce is picked in the morning and processed in the afternoon. New creations are popping out of Rad Relish with two new flavours, and yes, Grandma Peg is at it again with a Spicy Rad Relish, I mean serrano pepper spicy. I can’t wait to try this, spicy lovers unite! Chef Kyla King was in the kitchen and put the finishing touches on Smoked Rad Relish! Look out for all three flavours in a 3 pack packaged with a Metis Sash on the label. I love names and always want to know the story behind how a business came up with their name. So, here we go! Kyla is the owner of Rad Jamz and to create a brand extension Garrett thought that Rad Relish was a great name. I am in agreement with this rad name! As the rad line logo was already in use the logo was tweaked with a picture of Grandma Peg with a Metis logo plus her #PegApproved stamp of approval.

To learn more about Rad Relish visit, radjamz.com/rad-relish

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“Pick up a jar and possibly somebody will google Metis and learn something” -Garrett

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“I believe that the food of our ancestors is not only nourishing to us in body, but also to the soul.” - Sherry

NOW

let’s meet Sherry Rothwell, a holistic nutritionist, weight loss specialist and business coach. As well as the creator of the Protein Powered brand. What is Protein Powered? It is a grass-fed whey protein based pancake mix that can be used to make sweet or savoury pancakes. Think about it, blueberry, banana or even chocolate chips, maybe Sherry’s favourite cheese and spinach pancake (see recipe below). This is definitely a breakfast, lunch and dinner option available to you in a very short time.

“Our mission is to help busy people prioritize protein on their plate with more ease and in less time.” - Sherry Rothwell It’s truly a solution for people who want to put balanced meals on the table without spending all day in the kitchen. Sherry wanted to eat more protein but did not want to eat more meat, protein shakes or bars. I personally want to say ‘Hallelujah’ to Sherry’s creation. I want to grab something protein without having to open a packaged bar, flick on the blender or eat the leftover chicken in the fridge. This is going to be a game changer for my life, I hope it helps you as well! Protein Powered is free of wheat, gluten, grains, sugar, nut flour, gums and indigestible starches. As a person on the fringe of diabetes, Protein Powered gets another check mark as it keeps blood sugars from spiking. Not to mention it's good for celiacs, keto, low in carbohydrate and those who have sensitive stomachs. Sherry was born in Manitoba, a Scottish Cree Metis. It wasn’t until her 20’s when she met her Metis family. It was her German grandma who influenced her to embrace cooking from scratch, natural remedies and gardening. Sherry credits her Metis bloodline when it comes to her love connection and consideration of animals. Dairy is not an indigenous food, it is however tradition to use the whole animal and whey, even though it is a by product of cheesemaking it aligns with this indigenous tradition. Sherry's choice to use grass fed whey protein in her Protein Powered is based on this long established tradition. Grass-fed cows are compassionately raised, in a natural environment where they roam freely, on natural pastures. Besides the indigenous traditions, Sherry uses grass fed protein for nutritional reasons. It is more nutrient dense than conventional whey protein.

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Did you know whey protein contains all the essential amino acids? Did you know that most people don't have optimum levels of protein in their diet? Did you know protein improves muscle recovery after working out? Did you know protein facilitates well being and a healthy immune system? I answered ‘yes’ to one of these questions and am happy to now know the others. You are welcome. Wink! Focusing on the breakfast category, Sherry is wanting to bridge the gap between health and convenience. When I asked Sherry what was next for Protein Powered, she’s happy to say that she has a hot cereal recipe that is ready to go into production and a granola mix in the works. These new products keep the gold standard of the brand. I look forward to more protein powered breakfast options. Sherry has recently secured a new supplier of organic, grassfed Canadian (yeah) whey, which they will be working with in 2023.

Sherry was already in the foodie scene prior to launching Protein Powered making homemade protein bars and low carb sugar-free snacks. Her Instagram followers were taking notice, hmm, maybe I could make and sell them? Maybe a food delivery service? Nothing stuck and the ideas kept floating around in her head. A year later she was discussing why she put her foodie business on hold. And surprise, but not really a surprise, Sherry was served an ad on facebook shortly after this conversation about an Agri-Tourism Entrepreneur Program. She applied, she got in and by the end of the program she had a winning recipe. How did Protein Powered get its name? Sherry’s personal struggle with getting her optimal amounts of protein in her diet and the universe giving her some quiet persistent nudges. The idea of creating a high protein pancake without gluten and sugar free. She didn’t feel nut flours were going to do the trick here as they fall apart too easily. Then the idea of grass fed protein powder became an option. She then remembered a potluck from her teaching days at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and the recipe used psyllium husk. A few test trials and voila a pancake that does not spike blood sugar or leave you starving an hour later. And there it is, Protein Powered pancakes.

Sherry’s Spinach and Cheese Pancakes GREASE the frypan PLACE over medium heat. IN A BOWL ADD 1/4 cup of the Protein Powered pancake mix ADD 1/4 cup unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk (or 3 Tbsp water) ADD fresh or frozen spinach, your desired amount. STIR. ADD 1/4 - 3/4 cup shredded cheese. STIR to combine. Notes | If you have a non-stick pan, you can cook it up as 1 large pancake or if you have a stainless steel or cast iron pan, then best to drop it by the Tbsp to make 5 med-small pancakes. This makes it easier to flip. Toppings | Top with butter, cream cheese, mayo, creme fraiche or sour cream and serve with some tangy sauerkraut on the side. Using vegan cheeses works just as well.

To learn more about Protein Powered visit, proteinpowered.shop

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Growing Together GOOD TO GROW AND BC FOOD & BEVERAGE COLLABORATION

In 2022, Good to Grow and BC Food & Beverage came together in collaboration to support each other and create more opportunities for food and beverage processors. We sat down with Good to Grow’s founder, Andrea Gray-Grant, to share with you her experience and learn more about Good to Grow.

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Q&A Why was Good to Grow created? Good to Grow was founded by me, when my company Tarragon Foods was forced to close at the beginning of 2011. Feeling absolutely defeated, I intended to find a job outside the industry, however, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that helping others avoid the situation I was in would be a good use of a horrible experience. I began with working through a government funded coaching program that still is running today as the Agri-Business Planning Program. I then began teaching workshops to larger groups of people in the new and emerging phase of business, what we call Seed and Sprout, and in 2018 we launched our first of its kind B.C. local trade show, From the Ground Up. How do collaborations like Good to Grow and BCFB’s benefit the industry? Having both companies come together to create new opportunities for processors as well as promote each other's events and workshops in a united front demonstrates that we are stronger together rather than disconnected or siloed. How has you experience been with this collaboration? Our collaboration with BCFB has been a really positive experience, we enjoyed getting to know the team better and discovering more ways in which we can support each other and BC food and beverage processors. BCFB has a significant number of emerging businesses in their membership, and they use an array of tools to connect with them. Their website, weekly roundup, newsletter, and constant communication with their members about our events has been phenomenal. Certainly, our From the Ground Up Trade Show benefited greatly from our collaboration as many of the entrants heard about the show through BCFB’s targeted posting. Where would you like to see more collaboration happening in our industry? I believe that together through collaboration you can accomplish more than staying in camps. I think if you put the food and beverage processors' needs first it becomes easy to organize around that and do what is best for everyone. For example, education for processors could be organized to offer according to stage of business and be available to all processors in the province. It would be refreshing to see a program that is streamlined and offered to new and emerging phase businesses and offered around the province with a consolidated effort from all parties.

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What impact do you want to make for emerging businesses and entrepreneurs? When I began coaching and teaching, my intention was to help food processors avoid costly mistakes and to go into business with their “eyes wide open” - my motto in the early days. I think my coaching began as a way to take my own greatest fears and feel that I had helped others avoid pitfalls, and this somehow soothed my mind. Over the past few years, it really dawned on me that all these businesses have people behind them with diverse backgrounds and life experiences that I may know nothing about. Being able to support these entrepreneurs with my own life/business experience but also integrate into that a heart-felt understanding of where they stand in their own uniqueness and story is just as important as avoiding business pitfalls. If I can genuinely make the effort to understand someone’s story and experiences, I can help them much more because it is from their understanding and not just mine. I will feel a job is well done when the people behind the businesses I coach and teach feel valued and worthy of making and selling their products and believe in themselves and overcome the many obstacles that present when doing a food business. How has From the Ground Up Tradeshow evolved over the years? It began as a small boutique show at Waterview Event Space across from Granville Island. It was a fingers crossed, kind of event. We were just hoping buyers would come and see the uniqueness of showcasing only BC products and that would translate to many listings for these emerging local food processors. The first two years proved to be very successful and then Covid hit. We were not sure we would be able to pull off a show, but my son had just graduated from high school at the beginning of the pandemic and we ended up hosting his grad dinner down my back laneway. I had a lightbulb moment to host the next From the Ground Up trade show outside. We contacted the PNE who were extremely excited and supportive of our desire to move the show to their fair site. Having the show outside at the PNE was nerve wracking hoping rain would not come in and dampen the event. We saw an even greater number of buyers that third year and heard over and over again, ‘why don’t you make it bigger?’ Last year was our fourth and largest show with 61 booths showcased in the PNE Forum. It has continued to generate a greater turnout as well as additional market channel buyers attending - food service, institutional food service, etc. This next year it will be even bigger - up to 80 booths.

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An element of our trade show that has also evolved since the first one is the addition of a conference. The idea sprang from a last-minute workshop in our first trade show year to prepare the exhibitors on being trade show ready. The value of bringing the show exhibitors together was obvious and it had an incredibly positive impact on the energy of the show the next day. People were connected, excited and following the show we saw collaborations happening between brands as a result. We followed up each year by offering a conference one day before the show and this last year there were over 100 participants! The feedback points to the conference now being as important to attend as the show! Any exciting news or plans for Good to Grow happening in 2023? We are working on an online platform for B.C. food and beverage processors to connect and communicate with one another which we are really excited about! We just completed a Pitch & Plate event in October that was focused on products from B.C.’s Northern and Interior regions and we have another one coming up in February 2023 at Simon Fraser University. Four Pitch & Plate events have been completed to date! It is a unique event that provides processors with a direct opportunity to access the institutional food service market channel, specifically post-secondary institutions and healthcare facilities, while also giving B.C. institutions the opportunity to pioneer new and innovative local products. The event is designed and delivered for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s Feed BC by B.C. Good to Grow, in collaboration with Feed BC public sector institution partners. We are also in full planning mode for an even bigger From The Ground Up Conference and Trade Show in May 2023 at the PNE, Vancouver. From the Ground Up is an industry-only 100% B.C. local trade show focused on connecting B.C. food and beverage brands to local buyers from multiple market channels. It is a truly unique and highly valuable show for B.C. brands. Georgia Main Food Group consider it “one of the best shows in the field of many contenders since its inception” and ended up carrying 90% of the brands in our 2021 show! Lastly, one of our most exciting goals for 2023 is working to turn our commercial kitchen in North Vancouver into a product development lab.

To learn more about Good to Grow visit, goodtogrowproducts.com

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The family businesses that bring us to the dinner table

Intro by Alisa Hutton Story by Sierra Simpson 22


‘If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him... the people who give you their food, give you their heart.’ Reflecting on this quote from Caesar Chavez, I cannot help but feel drawn to a simpler time, my most precious memories of growing up in East Vancouver. A unique privilege that I did not fully recognize the value of until several years later. East Vancouver historically was, and still is, the first home for many families immigrating to Canada. Particularly when I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s it was an incredible tapestry of families from all over the world. The neighborhood was rich with delightful scents of cooking from, India, Italy, Portugal, Poland, China, Korea, Fiji, the list goes on. This was my community; they were my neighbors and most importantly my friends. The ‘call’ to dinner for all of us neighborhood kids was typically a loud “dinner time!” or whistle projected from the front doorstep of our parents. Each parent had their own unique call or whistle and us kids knew to drop what we were doing and high tail it home. I was always so curious to see what my friends’ families were cooking and my nose would always lead me to the constant delights that were happening in my neighborhood friend’s kitchen. I would sheepishly ask a million questions about their dinner with the shameless hope they would ask me “would you like to stay for dinner?” I would make the quick call to my mom to get the stamp of approval to stay for dinner and often the invitation was extended, to my entire family. This was how I grew up. It was incredible. I never had to leave my neighborhood but, I travelled so far. This is food, this is family and connection. It’s the beauty of food and sharing meals together. Several years later as an adult there was a post on social media going around, a list of ‘foods of the world you have tried.’ I watched friends and acquaintances proudly post their list of their travels and all the foods they had eaten. As I saw the travel list, I could not help but feel so inadequate, pondering the many countries and continents I had not travelled to. My life felt small. I decided to the go through the list and much to my surprise I had tried almost every food on the list, eclipsing my well-travelled friends and acquaintances. It struck me, all these foods were part of my childhood,

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dinners I had with wonderful neighbors and families who invited me into their home. My feelings of inadequacy for my lack of travel quickly became a beaming pride of the people and experiences that I had as a child. I recognized the profound impact this had on me. I was fortunate. Being the child that intuitively smelled her way around the neighborhood in the hopes of a dinner invite and to have spent time with such incredible families and people, it is of no surprise I am today, working for BC Food & Beverage. It is also of no surprise that I have such an intense sense of kinship with and for our diverse group of members, their stories, and the products they create. They are rooted to a deeply held place of gratitude for the people, lives and food that surrounded me then and now. They are friends that feel like family, they are neighbours and the connective tissue that creates our strong communities. My neighbors were incredibly hard-working people, so many cooking in restaurants and working in food production facilities when they first immigrated to Canada, taking on cleaning contracts to clean restaurants and manufacturing plants in the evenings and weekends to create strong futures for their children. Their hard work evolved into owning their own restaurants, bakeries, creating retail products and endless stories of successful entrepreneurship. It was a privilege to grow up observing how strong families, communities and thriving businesses are created by BC families. BC is so fortunate to have so many families who invite us to their dinner table by bringing their products to us. The joy of knowing the commonality we share with them; the value of sharing food with our family, friends and neighbors and the power of love and connection that food has. It represents so much more than a job or business. Food always tastes that much better to me when you know the story behind it and the incredibly special people who make it. To all the families who invited me into their home for dinner as a kid, thank you. To all the family run businesses who I have the privilege to work with, thank you. Not a day goes by that I’m reminded how lucky we all are that you share your family with us.

Alisa and Mar lene

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Alkeme On a mission to endlessly strive for a better food system

Gluten free artisan bakery, Alkeme, was brought to life in 2019 by Todd and Melinda Kopet. They have been in business for a total of 6 years with company name The Purist Pantry prior to Alkeme. The idea behind Alkeme was for Melinda and Todd to give back to the world and the people around them. “Our past skill sets in the corporate world gave us unique experience to create something of our own,” says Melinda. “We took note of the abundance of convenience in life - the constant trade-off between artisan-crafted treasures to the shift towards quick, easy, and disposable alternatives.” As they entered the food industry, they noticed the drastic number of products lacking nutrition, instead full of chemical preservatives and genetically modified ingredients. “The lack of nutrition quality on most grocery store shelves was effectively degrading overall health across our population and increasing chronic diseases,” shares Melinda. “So, what started as a product developed to feed our family, turned into a passion project to create products available to the market at large which were made in the “homemade” style but directed at serving as many people as possible.” Melinda has always been passionate about health and healing, and the role nutrition has on not only physical health but mental wellness as well. A personal mission of hers was to remove processed foods from their family home. With that, she began making each household staple from scratch, packing each re-invention with whole foods, and developed “slow food” processes to keep ingredient integrity intact. Todd is also pursuing his passion; with his strong love for food, paired with his love of timeless techniques, unique culinary experiences, and creating food that connects him with others. “His affinity for baking, which he saw as an esoteric and thrilling mixture of art and science, is at the heart of his endeavors,” says Melinda. “Meanwhile, he loves the pursuit of operational efficiency and his chance to apply the basic theories of economics, his area of study, into practice.”

Planted Expo Team

For the future, Alkeme plans to expand their distribution of bread products and hope to be in stores Canada-wide by early 2023. After that, they will be looking to grow their product categories across grocery store aisles so that you can find Alkeme products jam-packed with nourishing ingredients and help you reinvent your home pantry.

gluten free loaf breads

To learn more about Alkeme and their amazing products, visit thisisalkeme.com


“Family is front and centre to the creation of Alkeme. In fact, the founders left their previous lives in the city to create a new life for their family and knew that running Alkeme would be a central point.” – Melinda Kopet, Cofounder of Alkeme

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Grandpa J’s Grandpa J’s Seasoning is a Vancouver-based company owned and run by the sister duo, Jenny Siormanolakis and Nora Iliakis, who continue the legacy of their uncle and the founder of Grandpa J’s, Master Chef Jim Voulides. In 1995, he created one of the first of its kind seasoning salt with no MSG added, in bulk size available to food service, their No 1. best-selling product. Since 2004, Nora and Jenny, have watched the food industry change rapidly over the years, with technological advancements and supply chain logistics. They were primarily providing wholesale foodservice bulk seasoning with their seasoning salt available for retail in a few select stores. The pandemic however completely shifted the business. “With the pandemic hitting, we lost 75% of our sales as restaurants across Canada closed their doors. We immediately went to work on getting our product listed in as many small grocers, butcher shops, and delis around Vancouver,” says Jenny. “As we saw momentum growing with our one product, we went to work formulating two new flavours and released those in June 2021.” Grandpa J’s two newest additions are Greko Lemon Roast Potatoes Seasoning and Vancity Grind Steak Rub. Greko Lemon roast potatoes was a Product of the Year Top Ten Finalist this year. Their savvy social media is impressive for a small business and have grabbed the attention of some influential creators, including, chef Macro Sanchez (@woodfire_whiskey) with close to 2 million followers who shares his love for the Vancity Grind Steak rub. In August 2022, Vancouver’s own Ryan Reynolds tagged Grandpa J’s on his Instagram story in true comedic style . Posting “If this wasn’t so good, I’d be upset about the name,” sharing a photo of Vancity Grind he goes by @VancityReynolds on social media. As of today, Grandpa J’s products can be found in 120 locations in Vancouver and the Okanagan, hoping to take on Vancouver Island and coastal communities next. It’s been incredible to see these two push the business to new limits and how much of a community they have helped build in the industry. To learn more about Grandpa J’s and their amazing products visit grandpajs.com

“90% of our customers are small family businesses, we want them succeeding just as much as we are. We want them selling out of our product as we drive customers to their stores to go buy it and the other local products they stock.” -Jenny Siormanolakis, Grandpa J’s Seasoning.

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Jenny & Nora


Earthling Foods “It’s like a special mini handheld cake cookie”

Located in Port Coquitlam, Earthing Café is a must-visit glutenfree dessert bakery that specializes in handheld dacquoise. Traditionally, dacquoise are made with wheat flour as a binding element in the pastry and are made in a large cake size. Earthling differentiates themselves by using traditional glutinous (mochi) rice flour instead, which gives the dessert a perfect combination of crisp on the outside and spongy like a cake on the inside. They are also gluten-free! “They’re a very popular pastry in Korea, Japan and China. The oval shape originated in either Japan or Korea,” says Chae Kim, Co-founder of Earthling Foods. “The pastry itself is French but the shape and the size and the technique was developed more in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.” Earthing Foods was co-founded by the sibling duo, Chae and Jimmy Kim. At the start they had lots of support and help from their friends. As of the beginning of 2022 they’ve grown into a team of 8 at Earthling Foods, with many of their bakers being Korean aunties and part time students. “We have this strong cultural bond with our team,” shares Jimmy. “A lot of our flavours are inspired by Korean flavours; like Matcha, Sesame, and Yuzu. We have a set that has a Korean flag on it that goes out to the supermarkets. We’re super proud. Our whole team is super proud.”

Chae & Jimmy Kim

Starting with just a couple hundred dollars on hand, they rented a space and got to work. Chae and Jimmy were amazed by all the support and sales just through Instagram and online. They were delivering their baked goods straight to their customer’s homes during covid-19 lock-down with contactless delivery. One of their earliest retailers was T&T Supermarkets, whose buyer discovered them online and reached out. “We were rubbing our eyes, is this a dream?” says Jimmy. “T&T were in the middle of opening their local program. So, they reached out to a couple other small and local bakeries, but they didn’t have the capacity to take on that large of an order.” Earthling didn’t either at that point. But they took on more than they could handle and said yes. “We worked 48 hours straight over Christmas, Christmas Eve, and Boxing Day with help from our friends and family to fulfil that T&T order. This is what jump-started our operations and our retail presence begun.”

Original Dacquoise

Earthling Foods products can now be found across BC in Sungiven Foods, Fresh St Markets, H-mart supermarkets, and local cafés such as Coffee Monster, Bastion Café in Burnaby, and even UBC! They also opened their sister grab & go location right in New Westminster Skytrain Station –Passenger Café in September of 2022 offering other pastries such as their flourless vegan gluten free brownies, pecan cakes, and mochi canelés along with creative coffee and tea beverages.

To learn more about Earthling Foods and their delicious desserts, visit: earthlingfoods.ca

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Barakah Eats Barakah Eats is a family-owned and operated business located in Surrey offering gourmet frozen Asian influenced meals that can be found in local grocery stores in BC and farmers markets. The Khan family has been in the food industry since 2005 when they opened their first restaurant. They ran 3 successful restaurants and offered a catering service. At the dinner table they always talked about what the next step would be to branch out and scale their business further. “that’s when we looked into packaging some of our products. Some of our restaurant customers were already taking our products to different provinces. They would ask us to freeze our dishes to enjoy at home at any time. We had them telling us that we should totally do this properly and sell our products in retail,” says Rushd Khan, Operations and Marketing Manager at Barakah Eats. “We took our top sellers and packaged them for retail. From there, we would receive suggestions from customers at farmers markets who asked for specific dishes, for example some of our vegan dishes. That feedback allowed us to bring some new stuff in.” Both Rushd and his parents are involved in the business fulltime as the cofounders, and his three sisters help out parttime. “When we come home everyone is talking about the business as we’re all in it together and it’s a huge part of our lives,” says Rushd. While some family members have a strong focus in one section of the business, they all wear many hats and help where they can. As the company grows, Rushd hope to expand the team and pass on some of the roles, allowing them to focus more on what they each specialize in. With micro markets, Barakah Eats have the opportunity to provide food in office warehouse where there’s available refrigeration space to offer meals onsite to employers. “It’s kind of like the next generation of vending machines, but offering full on meals and healthier options,” says Rushd. Currently they are on a few Amazon warehouses and pushing into more universities.

To learn more about Barakah Eats and their amazing products visit barakaheats.com

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Kaslo Sourdough Founded by Silvio and Gabi Lettrari in 1993, Kaslo Sourdough is a family-run business located in the West Kootenays that specializes in high quality, artisan sourdough breads and sourdough pastas. As immigrants from Germany, Silvio and Gabi missed the European sourdoughs that were available where they grew up, which they couldn’t find easily in grocery stores in British Columbia. So, they decided to try to make their own. Silvio’s parents owned a small restaurant in Kaslo that had an outdoor brick wood-fired oven where he started experimenting with making sourdough bread. “It turned out to be really good. People were driving from Nelson, over an hour away, just to get this fresh bread he was baking early in the mornings,” says Silvio’s daughter, Heidi Lettrari, the General Manager of Kaslo Sourdough. “He was only able to do it in the summer for the first two years. Then he realized that this could be a year-round business. And that’s how he decided to build an attachment from the family house that would become a year-round bakery.” Silvio and Gabi continued selling their sourdough breads through Silvio’s parents’ restaurant and started approaching the stores in Nelson, since they already had customers in the city. They were able to get their bread listed in Safeway and Save On Foods, two well-established grocery stores, and quickly became recognized as a top tier bakery in the West Kootenay Region. Following over 20 years of success with the sourdough bakery, it was only nine years ago that Kaslo Sourdough expanded into the pasta world. The first piece of expanding into sourdough pasta was to build the business so that it could support another family. Heidi was interested in moving back to Kaslo after finishing her degree in Victoria, and the bakery wasn’t going to be enough to support her. Developing a new branch of the business, however, might enable it to happen. The second piece of starting to develop sourdough pasta was that around that time people were shifting their diets to gluten-free. “We didn’t see a difference in sales for our bread, even though people were cutting gluten out of their diet. Our customers let us know they continued to feel well even keeping wheat and gluten from our breads in their diet,” says Heidi. For Kaslo Sourdough, that really gets at the sourdough difference: The fermentation in the sourdough process helps to break down the gluten, making it a lot easier to digest. “We had a lot of customers striking pasta from their diets, and my dad and I saw an opportunity to develop a completely new sourdough product because we really believed sourdough could make a difference. That gem of an idea is how we got started with developing sourdough pasta,” shares Heidi. Heidi moved back to Kaslo, and she and Silvio spent two years developing and innovating to make what became their sourdough pasta. “We are grateful to be able to work together as a family, support each other, and have a viable business in Kaslo and in the Kootenays. We love living here and raising our kids with family so close by,” Heidi says. Kaslo Sourdough now offers several varieties of their sourdough pasta in many different shapes, selling them in stores and online across North America. Their varieties include a traditional Italian option (the classic) as well as varieties made with more exotic grains like quinoa, spelt, millet, buckwheat, and hemp. Heidi also shared with me that they also have a new unique product in development, not related to pasta. Exciting! Kaslo Sourdough family (from left to right) Heike, Heidi, Gabriele, Silvio, Tania, Stefan, Little Ari

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Vegan Tempeh Sourdough Spaghetti Recipe Serves 3-4 | Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes Ingredients 6 oz./ 170gr tempeh (Approx. 1 1/2 cups crumbled) 2 cups your favourite tomato sauce (we use our homemade roasted tomato sauce, recipe below) 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped 3 servings (240 grams) Kaslo Sourdough Classic Sourdough Spaghetti Instructions - Heat a large pot of water with a scant of salt. - Pulse tempeh in a food processor to small size crumbled pieces. - Add tempeh, sauce and water into a sauce pan and heat on medium. Chop basil and add to the sauce. - Add Kaslo Sourdough Spaghetti to the boiling water. Cook to desired firmness (810 minutes). -Drain pasta. Combine tempeh sauce with pasta and serve with extra basil on top. Add salt and pepper to taste. Tip: Add vegan parmesan!

Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce Ingredients 20 large Tomatoes, cut in half 1 large zuchinni, sliced 2 onions, sliced 2 Peppers, sliced ½ cup Basil, ¼ cup Parsley, ¼ cup Rosemary 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper 4 tbsps. olive oil 1 hot pepper, sliced Optional 1 clove of garlic Instructions Add all ingredient to a large roasting pan, set oven to high roast ~400 degrees, for 1.5 hours. Turn off oven and let it sit in the oven for 1 more hour. Use immersion blender to blend all ingredients. Add to jars for canning or freeze in containers. Enjoy!

To learn more about Kaslo Sourdough and where to find their products, visit kaslosourdoughpasta.com

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— FOOD SAFETY PREVENTIVE CONTROLS AND HACCP PLANS MICROCREDENTIAL Upskill your workforce. This microcredential is designed to train your staff members to develop, implement, and maintain your HACCP-based food safety programs. Learn more at bcit.ca/haccp


Sprains and strains caused by overexertion and repetitive motion are among the most common injuries for B.C. food processing workers.

Find health and safety resources to help your workers stay safe at worksafebc.com/ergonomics


Ultimately Stronger Women led food and beverage businesses

The team at BCFB has been fortunate to work alongside many incredible women entrepreneurs in the food and beverage space. For me personally, when I joined BC Food and Beverage straight out of university, I was thrilled to see how many women leaders, innovators, scientists, and entrepreneurs that filled the industry. As a young woman trying to navigate a career path it’s immensely important to see that representation and strong community of women cheering each other on.

Intro and stories by Sierra Simpson


“In the future there will be no female leaders, there will just be leaders.” - Sheryl Sandberg

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Betterwith Ice Cream, founded by Lori Joyce, is made

Lori Joyce grew up on a self-sustaining organic farm in Victoria with her immigrant Croatian parents. As a child, she didn’t appreciate the farm if anything, she resented it. The farm meant work; work meant she couldn’t hangout at the mall with friends. Lori was the kid swapping her fresh prosciutto sandwiches and laboriously made pastries stuffed with handpicked apples for PB & J and rice crispy squares. “But that all changed the moment I became a mom,” says Lori, “the work, the lessons, the wisdom, and the Sunday night dinners. That entire flashback of my childhood became profound. On top of reading ingredients labels for the first time, I finally understood and valued what my parents had been doing this entire time”.

Lori Joyce

the way ice cream was intended; using full-fat cream and simple ingredients you will recognize. The premium ingredients and expert process means no need for fillers, gums, or other unsavoury short cuts. In a sea of "dairy dessert products” Betterwith is one of the few brands committed to making authentic, old-world ice cream.


ABOVE Three generations on the farm. Lori, her Son, and Father

Before Betterwith, Lori co-founded Cupcakes in 2002 with her best friend. In less than 10 years they franchised across Canada and starred in their own Gemini-award winning reality TV show, ‘The Cupcake Girls’. In 2017 Lori launched Betterwith Ice Cream when she was still living in Vancouver. After year one the company did phenomenal, but with the way they were positioned, they weren’t attracting enough investor interest. “In my mid 40’s I was faced with the toughest decision of my life,” says Lori. “In 2018 I moved back to Victoria to my parents’ farm. Initially I had a lot of shame, anyone would think that was failure, being that age and having a family.” But this ended up being one of the biggest gifts to Lori and her company. “Moving back home turned out to be one of the smartest decisions’ I had ever made. I quickly discovered it was a gift. A gift of time; to reconnect, share this time with my parents, and learn more from them,” shares Lori. “Not only did Betterwith grow and become a stronger company without the investments, I was also experiencing the importance of transparency.” “Living on the farm while growing the company gave me the honest perspective of what it was going to take to build a better ice cream company, and ultimately this made me and the company stronger (and better!)”

“Moving back home turned out to be one of the smartest decisions’ I had ever made. I quickly discovered it was a gift.”

Betterwith ice cream comes in six traditional flavours: cream, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and caramel and can be found in stores across Western Canada. To learn more about Betterwith Ice Cream visit: betterwith.com

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whenever it feels like it.” Cathline got to work. Her idea was to reinvent the classics with reduced sugar, and more protein and fibre to make it easier to grab a healthy, nutritious snack. Cathline also strived to make Wise Bites as inclusive as possible, so she developed her products to be free from the top 11 allergens! “Once we were making things without wheat, I thought I can I do it without eggs too,” she says, “So it was one by one, that I eliminated them in our R&D period, and this is where we have ended up. It’s been fun to get creative and overcome those challenges.” Another important piece to Cathline, is her team. “We have an amazing group at Wise Bites. The energy of our team is great, we are all on this mission together,” she says, “Our staff are connected to the business process – which makes it more interesting for everyone.”

Cathline James

Wise Bites - The sweet snack for smarter snackers

Founded in 2012 by Cathline James, Wise Bites offers allergen free cookies and muffins based out of Richmond BC. Cathline’s entrepreneurial wheels started turning at a young age. When she was 15, her mother unfortunately passed away from cancer. At the time she was convinced it had to do with her diet which lite up a fire inside of her. Cathline needed to make a change. “I started doing my own research and found out that Japan doesn’t have nearly as much cancer as we do. I just thought that it had to do with what we ate,” she says, “It had to be something that touches everyone’s lives because cancer does not discriminate. It gets everybody

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Providing her product to bakeries and retail, they now have 27 different products, all plant-based and nut-free, sold cross Canada, and into the US.

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To learn more about Wise Bites visit wisebites.com


Destiny & Kelsey In 2021 two strangers, Destiny and Kelsey, met at an Indigenous Youth Entrepreneur Program, a course that challenged participants to create a business idea. This was where the concept formulated for Bangin’ Bannock , a dry mix to make Bannock, a delicious cultural indigenous frybread. “Bannock is a food that brings warm memories to both Destiny and me. It was absolutely a childhood staple, and any event you could excitedly expect Bannock,” shares Kelsey. “For me, it was always bannock tacos that would have me standing in line in excitement, praying they wouldn’t be sold out by the time I got to the counter.” Bangin’ Bannock’s recipe was designed from a combination of both their family’s recipes, honed to allow anyone to create perfect golden-brown Bannock every time. Kelsey and Destiny’s goal is to have their product open the doors to curiosity, conversation, and learning. “Our new bags feature not only dozens of individual Indigenous nations as the background to show how diverse we are and to show some names you may have never seen, but it also features Plains Cree syllabics in place of the government requested French.” On top of representation and revitalization, giving back is also of huge importance to Bangin’ Bannock. “We donate 10% of profits a month to a different organization, and we have a few ideas on how else we’d love to utilize those donations,” says Kelsey. “We also dream of creating an Indigenous led hub, a place for start-up businesses to have access to kitchen space, and for youth to get meaningful jobs and build strong resumes in a loving environment.”

To learn more about Bangin’ Bannock visit banginbannock.ca


“For me, it was always bannock tacos that would have me standing in line in excitement, praying they wouldn’t be sold out by the time I got to the counter.”

Pictured TOP - Destiny's Great Kookum Dora Hootsie & Kookum Norma Hootsie BOTTOM - Destiny's Kookum Norma and son

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Heather

& Haley

Launched in 2021, Nonno’s Pasta Shop was brought to life by two sisters of Italian descent, Heather and Haley. While they both live a vegan lifestyle now, they grew up on their Nonno and Nonna’s traditional Italian styles of cooking. As the family recipes got passed down to the sisters, they had to make some big adjustments to suit their vegan diet. While keeping the flavours as close as possible to their infamously meaty, cheesy counterparts, the two found a way to enjoy homemade vegan versions of their family’s recipes. That was when the idea of Nonno’s Pasta Shop all began. “Every time we wanted a taste of ‘home’ but were too lazy to cook, we found that there were no vegan Italian companies out there that made products we could buy in our local, or even large chain grocery stores,” says Heather, “Early on in my (now 14 year) plant-based journey, I decided to veganize all our family recipes, so when it came time to launch Nonno’s, we already had a few recipes in our back pockets.”

They currently offer two types of ravioli; their first to launch, Basil Ricotta and their recent addition, Lemon Ricotta. “The basil ricotta ravioli are best enjoyed with a simple tomato sauce. We recommend not pairing it with a sweet sauce as it tends to drown out the sweetness of the basil in our recipe,” shares Heather. The lemon ricotta alternative on the other hand, they recommend simply cooking and tossing in a pan with some browned vegan butter and fresh sage. With only a 3 minute cooking time, these sisters have found a way to make it feel like Nonno has been creating a unique, Italian meal in the kitchen for you for hours but with time and energy to spare. As the sisters work on perfecting their many other recipes, they’re excited to continue releasing delicious vegan Italian recipes into the market. “To us, Nonno’s is all about the family and community feel that comes with eating homemade food,” says Heather.

To learn more about Nonno’s Pasta Shop visit: www.nonnospastashop.com

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“ To us, Nonno’s is all about the family and community feel that comes with eating homemade food”


WeBC

Empowering Women Entrepeneurs in BC

BC’s leading business resourced organization for women, WeBC, supports women entrepreneurs along their small business journey across the province. They offer Skills Development, Advisory Services, Financing, and Mentoring Programs. WeBC has been mentoring women entrepreneurs throughout BC to help create opportunities in BC’s economy for over 25 years.

We chatted with Kaitlyn McConnell, the Skill Development & Mentoring Program Manager, to learn more about WeBC and how they are helping women entrepreneurs across the province.

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“Looking forward, WeBC continues to envision an equitable world in which all women entrepreneurs realize their full business potential. We will continue to walk along side women entrepreneurs as they start & grow their business through loans, skills development & mentorship. At the same time, we also have an intentional focus to deepen our connections with our Indigenous partners, nurture ambassadors in rural communities and continue to support newcomer entrepreneurs.” - WeBC C E O, Sh aun a H arp e r

Q&A

Tell us a bit about the WeBC mentor programs We offer 3 mentoring programs at WeBC. We have a One-to-one Mentoring Program, a Peer Mentoring Program, and a Taking the Stage Program. Our Mentoring program is designed to help women who are in the early stages of operating a business, usually within the first 1 to 5 years of operations, and they are matched with an experienced mentor who is there to help them manage risk, provide them with feedback and to help them achieve the goals that they have set out at the beginning of the program.

The philosophy around our mentoring program is all about the mentor sharing her knowledge and expertise based on her experience running a successful company. So, she’s not there to tell the mentee what to do, she is there to help guide them, lead them, be a sounding board for them, help them brainstorm solutions to their challenges and then works with them to develop an action plan that they can go and implement into their business.

What does it mean for you to be a part of WeBC? I love being able to connect with women entrepreneurs and to learn about the different businesses they’re running and being able help them along their journey. Most of the women I speak to have started their businesses and they are really good at what they do but what their looking for is someone who can brainstorm ideas with them and help them look at scenarios or challenges from a different perspective. Having someone there to listen to them and validate that they are on the right track is sometimes all they need to have the confidence to moving forward with the business. I also love the team at WeBC. We’re a small but mighty team and we’re all very passionate about helping women entrepreneurs along their journey.

What kind of impact has WeBC made? Since 1995 we have created $2.3 billion in economic impact in BC, we have provided $76.6 million in direct and Leveraged Financing, we offered 68.8K+ business advisory service, we’ve trained 48.5K women in 2,333 skills development sessions and since 2007 we have connected over 1500 women in our mentoring program.

Tell me about a situation you had at WeBC that left a positive impact? I love hearing the testimonials from women who have participated in our mentoring program. One that stood out was from a Peer Mentoring Group in the north. The women said that when they got together you could almost hear the relief and weight being lifted off the group members shoulders because they felt supported and found a cohort of like-minded women who were experiencing the same challenges and feelings they were. Running a business is a roller coaster and can feel quite isolating but having support from other people going through similar things makes the whole process a lot less scary.

To learn more about WeBC and their available programs visit: we-bc.ca/what-we-offer/mentoring/

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“6 billion dollars of food is wasted every year in BC – and there are hungry kids in school ” – David Long, CEO Greater Vancouver Food Bank

Feed people. Heal soil. Zero waste. Learn more: together.refeedfarms.com