Community in Focus – Socially Conscious Gift Giving with Growing Chefs!

London, Ontario is an easy place to be socially conscious this Holiday Season.  So if you’re thinking about trying to be a little less consumer and a little more conscious this Christmas here are my top tips to get you started.  Plus there’s a special profile of London based charity, Growing Chefs! that has some great socially conscious family gift ideas.

Balancing Consumerism with being Socially Conscious

My four year old niece wants a mermaid costume with a bikini top.  Cue images of her jumping around the lounge in a lycra sequin clad fish tail, falling into the fireplace and a Christmas day trip to A&E.

However, I cannot resist that child and so despite my desire not to purchase sweatshop made tat, I went on Amazon and duly bought one. It is blue, shiny and hideous……and she’s going to love it!

“It’s all about balance” I thought and immediately committed myself to trying to be a little more socially conscious and only buying locally made products and services for the rest of the holiday season.

So, what are the benefits of being Socially Conscious?

You may become more mindful and communicate better. Thinking in a socially conscious way may encourage you to avoid negativity and surround yourself with positive people. It may even help overcome some symptoms of depression.  Being socially conscious about what you buy can help improve and support the society you live in.

Top tips for a Socially Conscious Christmas in London

1. Buy local handmade gifts

Every weekend London is awash with Christmas Markets in the lead up to the festive season.  Most of these feature small independent artisan businesses selling unique handmade products and services.  By buying local you’re connecting on a personal level and supporting the regional economy. And with every local purchase, someone is doing a happy dance inside.

2. Shop local for holiday festive fare

Food shopping at local markets is good for the soul!  A commitment to buying Ontario grown produce wherever possible will make you feel good, knowing that you’re supporting a local farmer or food producer. I love having an understanding of where my meat comes from, who grew the veg or baked the bread I am eating. Click here for my favourite markets in London, Ontario.

3. Make your own gifts or up-cycle

Express your creativity and make your own gifts.  There are workshops all over London, Ontario for anything from woodworking and sign making to crochet and flower arranging.  Click here for my London, Ontario workshop recommendations.

If you’ve left it a little late to book yourself onto a workshop why not make something from the comfort of your own home. There’s nothing better than a handmade gift – it has more meaning to both you as the giver and to the receiver.  You can learn how to do anything on YouTube!

4. Buy experiences instead of products

Many businesses in London offer experience based gifts from cooking classes and woodworking memberships to massage, Reiki and overall wellness courses. The Conscious Christmas is an online market place in London Ontario where you can purchase some of these experience based gifts.

5. Make a charitable donation or commit to donating your time

There are tonnes of charities in London.  Find one that you feel passionate about and either donate financially or commit to donating your time. Alternatively, if you know one of your loved ones feels uncomfortable receiving tangible gifts, make a donation to a charity on behalf of them.

Supporting Growing Chefs! this Holiday Season

Growing Chefs! recipe book socially conscious gift giving

Growing Chefs! is an amazing charity based in London, Ontario.  It’s objective is to educate children about food, food sources, cooking, eating socially and the culture of food.

Every year Growing Chefs! works in partnership with over two dozen community agencies delivering 130 cooking workshops to over 3000 participants. These not only have a positive impact on children, giving them skills for life, but can also help adults and develop family life in London, Ontario.

From humble beginnings cooking in church kitchens, Growing Chefs! is now based on King Street in the old Auberge restaurant and is involved in a broad spectrum of events and activities.

Growing Chefs! offer tickets for experiential gifts whatever age and whatever stage of culinary expertise someone may be.

Gift Ideas for being Socially Conscious with Growing Chefs!

Adult Indian Cooking Class and Dinner

5th February, $40

Work alongside skilled chefs to create a multi-course, Indian dinner. Learn new skills, and new recipes, and then sit and enjoy your masterpiece.

This class is open to the public and first come first serve, with limited space for 16 participants.  Learn to make: Chai tea, Onion bajhis with yogurt, Scented basmati rice, Butter chicken, Cucumber salad, Mango ice

All proceeds from the event support children’s food education programs. Click here for tickets.

Cooking course learning in London Ontario socially conscious gift giving

Photo credit: Phoebe Say

This Whole Sturgeon Dinner

27th January, $75

Using the whole sturgeon, guest Chef Thompson Tran, of The Wooden Boat brings you traditional Vietnamese dishes & cooking techniques featuring a 5-course sturgeon dinner paired with award-winning NUOC CHAM Vietnamese Sauces.

Along with Growing Chefs Director, Andrew Fleet, they will speak to sustainable seafood in Canada and Growing Chefs’ commitment to using local, sustainable food sources.

This dinner is supported by Ocean Wise and The Northern Divine Aquafarms.  Cash bar serving wine and local craft beers. Click here to buy tickets for this socially conscious event.

Hops and Hearts Beer Tasting

14th February – Valentines Night, $60

Growing Chefs and The Can Opener team up to bring you Hearts and Hops Beer Tasting Dinner.  5 x 12oz, specially selected craft beers, paired with a 5 course meal that anyone could fall for.

Fall in love with your community all over again and support Growing Chefs food education programs, all while trying some swoon worthy suds.  Click here to buy tickets to this socially conscious Valentines event.

The Growing Chefs headquarters Auberge on King Street

Photo credit: Phoebe Say

Meal Prep Mondays Class

12th February, 5:30-8:00 pm. $25 / team.

Growing Chefs! know that enjoying food together is important but they also know that making meals can be challenging for many families. So for just the cost of ingredients, Growing Chefs! host a monthly Monday Meal Prep class where people can join their staff to build delicious, nutritious meals for multiple dinners!

Register your team for $25 / team.  Capacity is 7 teams and teams are maximum of 1 adult and 2 kids. Each team will prepare enough food with Growing Chefs! to eat a portion together at Growing Chefs! HQ and take home 2-3 freezer meals.

In Feb they will make butternut squash mac & cheese. Future recipes TBD.  Click here to buy tickets to this event.

Personal Giving to Growing Chefs!

“Make a lip-smacking, melt-in-your-mouth, feel-good donation to Growing Chefs! Ontario. You can give online or through the mail”

Personal Giving is a big part of the income that Growing Chefs! need to operate.  Despite having other income streams they still rely on personal donations from the public to be able to provide their services.  If you would like to make a one off or monthly donation to Growing Chefs! click here.



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