Digby is synonymous with the best jumbo scallops. The small harbour town in southwestern Nova Scotia, on the shore of the Annapolis Basin, trawls for an exclusive variety, to the tune of almost 2 million kilograms annually.
Roughly 25% of the strawberries sold in our supermarkets during the winter originate from Canadian plants sold and exported to the United States. Why? Because the province of Quebec is home to one of the most prolific strawberry-plant nurseries in North America (try 25 million specimens annually).
Here’s the truth about wild rice: It’s not part of the rice family. The long, dark grains come from an aquatic grass that flourishes in calm, shallow waters, exactly like those of Lac La Ronge in north-central Saskatchewan. Governed by the province’s largest First Nations community, the glacial lake’s territory produces the most organic wild rice in the world.
We go absolutely wild for wild blueberries. And why not? Canada, and the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec in particular, is the biggest producer and exporter of the antioxidant hero. In numbers, the total annual harvest represents almost 100 million kilograms.
Cultivated for millennia on riverbeds in Japan, wasabi is one of the most stubborn and expensive crops to grow commercially. Much to our surprise (and delight!) a producer on Vancouver Island has managed to coax the fickle Japanese horseradish to thrive in greenhouses.
If you ask “Where’s the beef?” in Canada, the answer is probably the Prairies—40% of the country’s cattle herds are located there. Conditions in the region are ripe: A temperate climate and vast, grassy expanses both facilitate livestock agriculture. If the quality of our beef is renowned, it also owes much to our strict classification standards.
Canada is the world’s largest exporter of durum wheat, with Saskatchewan alone responsible for 46% of the crop. The high-protein wheat, used to make our fresh semolina pasta and semolina for breads, cereals and couscous, sits next to other types of flour on most grocery store shelves.
Of the 125 million tins of sardines packed each year at the Connors Brothers Limited factory in the Bay of Fundy village of Blacks Harbour, 75% are targeted for export, in locations like Barbados and Jamaica.
Yes, Canada makes couscous! The country not only produces a lot of durum wheat, but also has a receptive market for the North African staple. Canada exports 2,820 tonnes of couscous every year to the United States, the Netherlands and, soon, the Maghreb.
Hardy, economical, protein-rich: Lentils pulse with pluses. And on the global export market, Canada (and Saskatchewan, specifically) is the undisputed champ. Saskatchewan produces 95% of Canada’s lentils—about 2 million tonnes annually. Impressively, India, Turkey and Bangladesh buy half of our harvest.
90% of the world’s mustard seed production comes from Canada. Pretty extraordinary, especially when you consider that mustard is the most consumed condiment on the planet, after salt and pepper.
Good french fries start with good potatoes—it’s that simple. And from the red, sandy, iron-rich soils of Prince Edward Island come the most über of tubers. At over one million tonnes of spuds per year, the wee province is the most prolific producer in the country.
The sunny and dry microclimate of the Okanagan has long made it a vital agricultural hub. The lush valley swells with vibrant fruit crops, and few are trending harder than sweet cherries. Demand for the stone fruit currently outstrips supply: China, for one, is chomping at the pit to buy more than the Okanagan can grow.
Close to 75% of the international oat trade is generated by Canada, which makes us the planet’s top exporter. The bulk (a whopping 95%) of the Prairie-produced cereal grain winds up south of the border, in the United States.
TOAST OF THE COAST
Canada’s seafood industry pumps $6 billion a year into our economy. From the frigid Arctic to the crystalline waters of the Atlantic, the mighty Pacific and the vast network of bays and fjords in between, the country enjoys a privileged bounty. Flush with Newfoundland snow crab, Prince Edward Island oysters, Nova Scotia lobster, Quebec surf clams, British Columbia prawns and more, our pan-Canadian seafood platter represents the country’s best—coast to coast.