Speaking of super foods (see above), the plump barbecued burger served at the annual Mayor’s Rural Expo at Ottawa City Hall has to be considered in the lineup. OK, maybe not under the same criteria as blueberries… but it’s pretty darn good.
The burger is back as part of the 13th edition of the Expo set for June 2, an event which brings country and city folk together in support of area food banks. For that, it must be commended, and for the profile it provides to rural businesses and festivals.
Expo started out as Food Aid Day at the Canadian Agricultural Museum before moving uptown. Mayor Jim Watson was looking for a way to showcase rural attractions and, rather than re-invent the wheel, he partnered with Food Aid founder, Navan farmer Wyatt McWilliams.
In the interim, basic city-country relations have come a long way. In particular, city employees have become more sensitive to rural concerns, a process that has been facilitated by the annual expo.
Often associated with government institutions, the high-tech industry, and tourism hotspots in the core, rural communities are “every bit as important to our resilient economy and to the diversity of our local culture,” Watson says, bragging routinely about the fact that Ottawa contains the largest urban rural and agricultural sector in Canada.
Funds raised during the day are applied to purchasing one-pound packages of frozen hamburger for distribution to Ottawa and area food banks. Over its history, Food Aid has provided more than 800,000 pounds of local beef to “the most vulnerable members of our community.”
Other attractions during the day include live music, celebrity milking and indoor and outdoor information booths mounted (free of charge) by rural organizations and businesses. New this year, Expo will be highlighting agricultural innovation; participants have been invited to promote innovative products and practices that they employ.
Speaking of innovation… straw hats off to Watson and McWilliams for bringing this innovative event back to downtown Ottawa year after year.