The Intelligence Brief is our weekly compendium of food and drink news sourced from outlets all over the world, including right here at home.
A week ago today, health officials announced what most had been expecting: there will be no holiday gatherings allowed in the province and current restrictions have been extended into the new year. Between a ban on gatherings and restrictions around travel, it’s safe to say that December is going to look a bit different this year. But with the first round of vaccines scheduled to be given to high risk British Columbians starting this week, there is some hope that things will begin to improve in the coming months. In the meantime, we continue to cover how the hospitality industry is fairing through the end of an immensely challenging year.
Remember early on in the pandemic when all those distilleries pivoted their businesses to produce hand sanitizer? It looks like many of them have been left in the lurch.
New research finds that Covid and climate change are seriously impacting food costs and Canadians will pay the price in the coming year.
“The average Canadian family will pay up to an extra $695 for food next year, as the pandemic, wildfires and changing consumer habits drive up grocery bills to the highest increase ever predicted by an annual food price report. Rising bread, meat and vegetable prices are expected to lead the overall food price increase of three to five per cent, according to Canada’s Food Price Report 2021 released Tuesday.”
In a follow-up to last weeks story about local protests in solidarity with farmers in India, the CBC shares additional information about the ongoing uprisings.
“The farmers are angry about three agricultural reform laws the Indian government passed earlier this fall. The government says the new laws will make the sector more efficient, allowing farmers to market their produce and boost production through private investment. The farmers say they will deregulate crop prices and devastate their earnings.”
Meanwhile, in New York: Governor Cuomo has announced a second shutdown of indoor dining in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19 through the city’s second wave. With this news, many NY restaurants are considering a more long-term closure for the winter in the hopes of re-opening in the spring.
Thinking about sharing some holiday baking with friends and family this year? Huffington Post has some tips and tricks on how to give the gift of cookies safely this year.
In worrisome news for the industry, a new report has found that almost half of Canada’s small-to-medium sized independent restaurants are at risk of closing in the next six months.
“According to a recent survey conducted by Restaurants Canada, 48 per cent of small and medium-sized independent restaurants will permanently close within six months if they cannot reopen and if loan programs wear off. On top of that, 80 per cent of restaurants are either losing money or barely scraping by, and 10 per cent of them have already closed for good.”
Similarly, Restaurants Canada is calling for sustained support from the federal government to ensure the industry can get back on its feet.
“The pandemic exposed the frailties of our particular industry, but any person who’s ever worked in a restaurant can tell you that, at some point, they’ve encountered something that’s been questionable, be it harassment, tip discrepancy, uncompensated hours, or something else,” says Sarah Bailey, co-founder of CRWC, and the architect behind the The Full Plate, a Toronto-based nonprofit providing access to mental health services, legal aid, and other resources for hospitality workers. “Our thinking is: If we can harness the almost two million workers in our industry, the government will have to pay attention.”
No longer putting up with shitty treatment from patrons like this one should be another basic hospitality standard (an issue not unique to the pandemic but definitely exacerbated by it).
It turns out there’s some recent research out there showing just how much harassment restaurant workers have been contending with since the pandemic.
“A new report from One Fair Wage surveyed 1,675 food service workers between Oct. 20 and Nov. 10 from five states, including New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, D.C. The study found that not only are servers receiving piss-poor tips, they’re also being harassed for enforcing social distancing and mask-wearing, NPR reports.”
If you’re giving the gift of chocolate this year, consider supporting some of these local shops offering up delicious holiday confections!
Somehow, despite these unprecedented times, new restaurants continue to open, including Juanita, which is set to open its doors in Kitsilano in early 2021.
For all your takeout ordering needs, check out Scout’s recommendations for some of the best dishes to order in.
The Georgia Straight’s Editor, Charlie Smith, tries his hand at food writing, sharing a recent dining experience at Les Faux Bourgeois and declaring the French bistro the “perfect pandemic restaurant”.
In cities that have instituted a cap on third party delivery app fees, companies such as DoorDash are now passing costs off to its customers. Because of course they are.
Finally, Lucy Long, director of the Centre For Food and Culture, discusses our changing relationship to food through the pandemic.