Canadian food laureate Anita Stewart, 73

Guelph flags to be lowered for Food Day Canada founder

Flags at the University of Guelph are to be flown at half-mast Tuesday in honour of Canadian food advocate Anita Stewart, who died Thursday in hospital in Hamilton.

Stewart, 73, was the first person in the world to be conferred with the title of “food laureate,” as she was named by the University of Guelph in 2012 for her work as an advocate, leader and promoter of food intiatives.

Born in Toronto, Stewart studied child psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University and gastronomy at Australia’s University of Adelaide, where she became the first Canadian to earn a master’s degree in the subject.

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A food columnist and broadcaster who also founded the food professionals’ group Cuisine Canada, Stewart wrote or cowrote 14 books on Canadian foods and wines, most recently Anita Stewart’s Canada in 2008.

She also consulted on Ontario’s culinary tourism strategy and with the federal agriculture department and Ontario’s provincial ag and tourism ministries. She received an honorary degree from Guelph in 2011 and was named to the Order of Canada the following year.

The annual national event now known as Food Day Canada began as Stewart’s “World’s Longest Barbecue” in 2003, set up to support Canadian livestock producers in the wake of the discovery that year of Canada’s first domestic case of BSE.

“Canada IS food and the world is richer for it,” she wrote previously on the Food Day Canada website.

In 2010 the university and Stewart launched the annual Good Food Innovation Awards for recognition of Canadian restaurants exhibiting culinary creativity with local ingredients.

The university this year also began construction of a “state of the art” facility dubbed the Anita Stewart Alumni Food Laboratory, which is expected to teach nutrition and hospitality students “everything from food preparation and safety to cooking on camera.”

“Before ‘local, regional, seasonal’ was in vogue, Anita was visiting country inns, farmer’s markets, lighthouses and First Nations’ communities, while engaging with Canada’s food leaders,” her family said in her obituary Monday.

“She was known as a great supporter of all things Canadian, a true innovator and a trailblazer, and also as a cherished and loved personality,” U of Guelph president Charlotte Yates said in a separate release.

Visitations are to be held Tuesday at Elora, Ont., to be followed at later dates by a memorial there and a private memorial on Vancouver Island. Memorial donations may be made to the University of Guelph’s Anita Stewart Tribute Fund. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

 

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Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.

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