Chefs rally against southern Ontario mega-quarry
Published Sunday, October 16, 2011 8:40PM EDT
Some of the country's most renowned chefs, butchers and chocolatiers are leading a massive rally opposing the construction of a mega-quarry in southern Ontario on Sunday, attempting to save local farmland through a celebration of fine cooking and local cuisine.
As many as 100 of the best chefs in Canada are gathering in Honeywood, Ont., on Sunday to participate in Foodstock, a pay-what-you-can food festival meant to raise awareness about the impact the proposed quarry will have on local farmland.
Chef Michael Stadtländer, whose nearby farm and restaurants are internationally renowned, will be among the participants turning local ingredients into gourmet dishes.
He said he expects up to 20,000 people to attend the one-day event to celebrate southern Ontario farmland and protest against the proposed quarry.
"The people who are showing up, with their presence they are also demonstrating their disapproval with having this big pit here," Stadtländer said in an interview. "When you have 200 people marching it is one thing, but when we have 20,000 it is a different story."
In March, the Highland Companies applied to Ontario to excavate the largest quarry in Canadian history. The mega-quarry would span more than 2,300 acres and tap into one billion tonnes of limestone deposited north of Orangeville.
It is estimated that as much as 600 million litres of water will have to be pumped from the quarry each day due to the high water table.
Those who oppose the quarry say it would have a devastating effect on Ontario's watershed and destroy farmland that grows half of all the potatoes used in the Greater Toronto Area, among other produce.
"You have to see it. We are sitting here at the headwaters of five rivers that flow 600 million litres a day. That is not something to just ignore. That is not their water. It is everybody's water and you don't mess with that," said Stadtländer.
Among the more than 80 chefs planning to attend are Jeffery Claudio of Scarpetta and Jamie Kennedy of Jamie Kennedy Kitchens. Musicians such as the Barenaked Ladies, Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy, Sarah Harmer and Ron Sexsmith are also scheduled to perform throughout the day.
Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources announced last month that a full environmental assessment will be conducted on the mega-quarry before construction began.
Highland Companies spokesperson Lindsay Broadhead said the company is committed to moving forward with the quarry and wanted to listen to the public's concerns as part of the assessment process.
She added that it was likely some of the company's local employees would attend Foodstock, but not out of protest.
"It's quite an impressive event. There are a number of respected Canadians and Canadian chefs attending," she told CTVNews.ca. "Highland is a significant employer in the area and is the main producer of potatoes for the province, so you know food is an issue that's important to Highland as well. They want to keep farming, they have a dedication to farming."
Foodstock will take place on Sunday, Oct. 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lennox Farms in Melancthon Township, Dufferin County.
With files from Molly Hayes