Good to Grow’s annual From the Ground Up Trade Show is the only 100% BC trade show that connects local brands to multiple market channels. It is one of our favourite events to attend to get a feel for what is upcoming in the plant-based food market. The 2023 show highlighted 65 BC food and beverage brands and 2 sustainability organizations serving the industry.
This year we met so many great brands and organizations and are listing the top five we feel are worth sharing!
Asha Wheeldon founded KULA Kitchen in 2018 after finding that grocers in Vancouver carried little to no African foods. Her story began in Isiola, Kenya, continued in Toronto (20 years), and now thrives in Vancouver.
Inspired by her East-African family recipes, she aims to share something unique that offers delicious nourishment and creates spaces and stories for inclusion, representation, and community connections through food.
KULA (meaning ‘to eat’ in Kiswahili) was designed to bring culturally relevant, plant-based meals that are both nourishing and accessible to the table. The products are also gluten-free and have no added sugar.
KULA‘s vegan products, such as their BBQ sauces, ribs and curries, and more, are made to be sustainably conscious and can be found in stores and markets across Canada, including local favourites Vegan Supply, Harvest Community Foods, Gourmet Warehouse, and many other locations in the Vancouver area.
Living Tree Foods
Emily Wilson and Kyle McKay founded Living Tree Foods in May 2020 – after they both attended law school and decided to forgo legal careers. They wanted to create a company that positively impacted the planet, human health, and animal lives.
Emily is known as the ‘mad scientist’ responsible for recipes, and Kyle is the resident comedian and salesperson; the two are the driving force behind the brand’s growth and have made it their mission to knock down barriers to eating a plant-based diet by making accessible vegan versions of traditional products.
Living Tree Foods offers a wide range of plant-based and delicious dairy-free cheese spreads, ravioli, and specialty products purchasable in BC and Alberta at various IGAs and Vegan Supply. Find a full product selection at their New Westminster store and numerous Farmer’s Markets including Squamish and White Rock.
Brightside Foods was founded by co-owners Aiyana Kane, Dana Vanheller, and Jackie Avery in 2018. It produces frozen meals and is the sister company to The Burrow on Commercial Drive.
Brightside Foods offers consumers high-quality Mexican-style hand-held meals created from fresh and whole ingredients. All Brightside products are filled with fresh, handmade, whole-food ingredients and rolled into premium, locally-made tortillas. The delicious results support the BC economy, reduce environmental impact, and are so satisfying!
The trio wanted to create high-quality food that was affordable and accessible to the consumer, and that could be enjoyed at home. Their line includes fast burritos, pinto pockets, ready-made cornbread, and hot sauce. Brightside Food items are available across BC in various IGAs, Farm to Table and Fresh Street Markets, and can be ordered online and delivered through Spud.ca, Bee My Guest, or Uber Eats.
Melissa’s Klassy Kitchen
Established by Melissa Klassen in 2021, MKK is changing how people eat in BC by providing a product line made without GMO, soy, nuts, eggs, gum, or added sugars.
While in university, she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and an intolerance to dairy. Klassen knew that others with allergies and sensitivities struggled to find great-tasting meals like her. She felt inspired to make food free of allergens that tasted delicious. Her product line consists of delicious vegan and gluten-free perogies and baking mixes while also offering catering services.
Find Melissa’s Klassy Kitchen products at Peko Produce, Vegan Supply, Stong’s Market, and other locations in BC and Alberta.
Vancouver Food Runners
Vancouver Food Runners was founded by Tristan Jagger in 2019, is an initiative driven by a mission to address the disconnect in BC between food producers and those who need meals. For example, did you know that 58% of households experience food waste or loss or that one in nine individuals still faces food insecurity?
Jagger has over ten years of experience as an accomplished fundraising professional. Before founding VFR, she served in front-line fundraising positions and management roles with Big Brothers, United Way of the Lower Mainland, and most recently Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.
Jagger is a strategic community development leader, dedicating her career to social services. She is a long-standing and active volunteer with various organizations and has a true passion for helping food stay out of the waste stream by directly distributing it to organizations that serve those in need.
With a strong commitment to sustainability and social impact, Jagger established VFR as a platform to connect restaurants and establishments with surplus food to these non-profits in need.
The innovative Vancouver Food Runners app is an end-to-end system that matches food donors to non-profit partners and mobilizes volunteers to efficiently and cost-effectively transport food between locations. Once there is a match between a food donation and a non-profit partner that would like to receive it, the alerts nearby volunteers of the available food rescue opportunity and guides volunteers through the rescue, providing built-in navigation and delivery verification to complete their rescue efficiently.
VFR provides Vancouver food businesses with a free and simple way to redirect their surplus to food-insecure people. From the businesses that generously donate their surplus food, to the dedicated volunteer drivers that provide transportation, to the community partners who help distribute the food to those in need, this food recovery program is a genuine community effort.
- Helen Siwak is passionate about plantbased culinary, promoting a vegan lifestyle, shopping secondhand, and supporting eco-activists. Her plate is full as founder and president of EcoLuxLuv Comms (Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, EcoLuxLifestyle.co). | firstname.lastname@example.org.
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