Mediaplanet chats with Vikram Vij about sustainability and the best places to buy local produce in BC.
Mediaplanet: What encouraged your love for all things culinary?
Vikram Vij: Growing up in India, seeing the women in my life put their entire heart and soul into cooking — how could I not love something that nurtured us so well? I originally wanted to be a Bollywood actor, but when my father told me ‘NO’, then cooking was the natural next best thing!
Why is buying local BC produce so important for the BC economy?
Well, it goes without saying that supporting your local businesses can only help and encourage the continuation of your neighbourhood.
For the Vij’s family of restaurants, we are committed to supporting and getting to know our producers, knowing where those ingredients come from, how they lived, what goes into them — and we don’t want to be a contributor to environmental decline, so buying and sourcing locally is a big part of that too.
How can shoppers ensure their food originates from an ethical and sustainable source?
I would encourage people to ask questions and to do their research.
It might not be convenient, but if you are serious about preserving resources, produce and the planet for future generations, then demanding more of our suppliers, and in big enough numbers to make a difference is the only way we will influence change.
Why is sustainability of growing importance when it comes to food?
It is the only way forward. People talk of certain ways of eating and living as fads or trends, but sustainability cannot be a trend — it is the way our planet will survive.
How can we bring more attention to the local food movement and encourage more to buy local?
I think we just need to make it part of our every day lives. Actively looking for locally produced foods and creating demand will ensure their growth. We’ve seen significant change in things like smoking, in driving gas-guzzling cars, in plastic consumption – we need to do the same with food. Buying and sourcing local, looking for sustainable options, making smart choices — it should simply be the norm, rather than something we do on special occasions.
Where are your favourite places to go in BC for local produce?
I have many suppliers I have worked with for so many years – but usually they are suppliers for our restaurants. When it comes to buying food for using at home, I visit farmers markets – and I’m excited about the fact we are in prime farmers market season again! – grocery stores on Fraser Street, in Surrey where I live now, the stores where they stock local and organic produce, and the places where I know my regular suppliers send their produce!