Montréal is known as one of the world’s great food cities. This is largely due to the complex intersections — culturally, historically, and geographically — where Montréal is located. With access to the best North American products, a European culinary savoir faire, and a tapestry of diverse immigrant flavours, eating in Montréal is a veritable smorgasbord of food pleasure.
The practice of creating sustainable food systems is booming across the province of Québec, with more and more municipalities looking to reconnect communities with local food systems. These sustainable practices can be incorporated into Montréal meetings and events, enabling attendees to truly taste the local offerings of the region.
Here’s the background information you need to get started.
A city that is thinking about food sustainability
Montréal is not only a member of C40 Cities, a global network of mayors taking urgent action to confront the climate crisis, but we’re also on the C40 steering committee. As part of this city-wide commitment to sustainability, the Office montréalais de la gastronomie is working to encourage responsible food consumption among local, national, and international visitors, by favouring places of consumption which promote the supply of local or regional product, and which practice the reduction of food waste or which promote vegetarian cuisine.
Additionally, Montréal has an initiative called “SALIM” (an acronym for Système alimentaire local et intégré à Montréal). The SALIM project helps food security organizations to source supplies and distribute more fresh, local food. By pooling food resources, the project brings local producers closer to vulnerable people.
Sustainable food at your fingertips
Montréal’s convention centre, the Palais des congrès de Montréal (itself a carbon-neutral building), features several ecological initiatives specifically related to food. Their Urban Agriculture Lab is a laboratory for research, innovation, and intervention in urban agriculture. Projects include extensive green roofs and container gardening, pollinating beehives (home to several thousand bees), Canada’s first urban rooftop vineyard, and more.
When it comes to catering for conferences and events, the convention centre offers themed menus, vegetarian options, local products, and other ecologically sensitive options. The in-house service — entitled Capital Traiteur — has qualified for several sustainability accreditations, including Aliments du Québec, Fourchette Bleue, and Ocean Wise Seafood. Essentially, it’s entirely possible to develop a sustainable menu for your event at the conference centre.
We have big market impact
Greater Montréal has a world-class agri-food industry, specializing in the processing and distribution of food. This is one of the city’s key sectors, contributing an estimated $6.2 billion to Québec's GDP.
While food can be big business around here, it’s the smaller, more local moments that truly define the city’s relationship with food. Nowhere is this more apparent than one of the iconic Montréal public markets, such as the Jean-Talon Market (one of the largest open-air markets in North America) or the Atwater Market (with its Art Deco-style architecture that places it among the most beautiful buildings in the city).
Also worth noting is local agricultural innovators Lufa Farms. They built the world’s first commercial rooftop greenhouse on an industrial building in Montréal, with the objective to prove high-yield, year-round farming that is a smarter, more sustainable, and commercially viable way to feed cities.
Where to eat around the city
Montréal's food scene offers an abundance of environmentally responsible choices. These restaurants pair exquisitely fresh dishes with laudable sustainability practices. In collaboration with Blue Organization, Tastet created a list of sustainable Montréal restaurants in Montréal — eco-friendly restaurants in terms of their respectful use of resources.
Your group could combine touring the city with everyone's favourite activity: eating. Round Table Tours will introduce you to the best of Montréal's food scene, including businesses that are serious about sustainability. Their tour "Sustaining City: Montréal's Living Table" features urban farmers, food production sites, restaurants and a creative workshop around healthy eating.
Finally, you can do more than just eat good food. You can also participate in the creation of it. These Montréal cooking classes are perfect for rolling up your sleeves and learning more about the story of food — right here in Montréal.
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