2023: International Year of Millets
On the Plate: Alberta Mead  Burger It Forward
Bits 'N Bites
Restaurant Spotlight: WestLake Grill (Red Deer)
Chef Profile: Dustin Cooknell (Three Vikings Food+Drink, Edmonton)
Featured Recipe: Chinook Honey's Hot Mead Toddy
Meet a Producer: Stolen Harvest Meadery (Grovedale)
Featured Partner: Tourism Red Deer

2023: International Year of Millets

The United Nations General Assembly at its 75th session in March 2021 declared 2023 the International Year of Millets (IYM). The IYM 2023 is an opportunity to raise awareness of, and direct policy attention to the nutritional and health benefits of millets and their suitability for cultivation under adverse and changing climatic conditions. It is an occasion to promote the sustainable production of millets while also highlighting their potential to create sustainable market opportunities for producers and consumers.

What are millets?

Millets encompass a diverse group of cereals including pearl, proso, foxtail, barnyard, little, kodo, browntop, finger and Guinea millets as well as fonio, sorghum (or great millet) and teff. Millets are often called “Nutri-Cereals” due to their high nutritional content compared to commonly grown cereals like wheat, rice or corn. They contribute to human and animal health, including that of mothers and their young.

They were among the first plants to be domesticated and serve as a traditional staple crop for millions of farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Millets can grow on poor soils with little inputs, are resistant or tolerant to many crop diseases and pests and can survive adverse climatic conditions. The genetic diversity of millets offers opportunities for economic development through income generating activities in the food sector or in niche markets for specific professional applications (therapeutics, pharmaceuticals, specialty chemistry).

By unleashing the potential of millets, we can:

👩🌾Improve smallholders’ livelihoods
💹Boost economic growth
🍲Help ensure food security & nutrition for all

& so much more

Millet Quick Facts

Millets are...

  • A diverse group of small-grained dryland cereals
  • Climate resilient, tolerant of poor soils, drought and harsh growing conditions
  • Adaptable to different production environments, without high fertilizer and pesticide needs
  • Integral to ancestral traditions, cultures and indigenous knowledge
  • Nutritious “nutri-cereals” that provide dietary fibre, antioxidants, protein and minerals, including iron
  • Good for human and animal health (through food and feed)
  • Gluten free with a low glycaemic index to address intolerances and diabetes
  • Diverse in taste and the products and recipes they are based on
  • A source of income for marginal production areas in rural, urban, regional and international trade
  • A way to create decent jobs for women and youth through innovative processing and marketing opportunities
  • A way to transform local agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind

To learn more about the International Year of Millets, visit

In the Glass: Alberta Mead

Alberta is Canada's largest honey producer, producing around 40 million pounds of honey every year (accounting for just shy of half of the country's total production).  That honey is no longer just being used in it's regular form - a surge in meaderies in Alberta is turning honey into a classic (perhaps even the original) beverage.  In its simplest form, mead is the alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey and water.  Much like a craft beer or spirit, the type of honey and how its treated, as well as adding other ingredients like fruits, herbs, carbonation, etc., creates a myriad of styles sure to please any palate.

Following suit with the craft beer boom in Alberta, local meaderies are popping up across the province, with each one creating distinctly unique styles and flavours reflective of their own terroir. Alberta's first meadery, Chinook Arch Meadery in Okotoks, set the stage as they worked with AGLC to get commercial sales of mead approved in 2006. Since their meadery opened in 2007, they put Alberta on the map, winning national and international awards. With them leading the charge, there are now over ten meaderies in all corners of the province.

Mead FAQs

Q: Does mead actually date back to the Viking era?
A: It's even older! Mead is arguably the world's oldest fermented beverage, dating back to around 10,000 years ago.

Q: Is mead gluten free?
 In its purest form, yes. Some mazers (mead makers) will add gluten to change the profile of their mead, but most styles and flavours are gluten free.

Q: How many mead styles are there?
 You can make mead out of honey and pretty much anything, but there are about 20 "common" styles, including melomel (made with any fruit), cyser (apples), pyment (grapes), braggot (mead and beer blend), and bochet, made with carmelized honey).

Q: Can you cook with mead?
 Yes!  You can use it in place of wine to add a touch of sweetness, or as a deglazing agent to make pan sauces.


Must Try Alberta Meads to add to your collection

Broken Tine Melomel

Alberta is big on haskap berries, so what better way to enjoy them than in liquid form?? Best served chilled, the haskap finish is perfect with both sweet and savoury dishes. 

Fallentimber Meadjito

Canned, carbonated, lightly sweet, and refreshing, this will quickly become your summer go-to. A great balance of mint, lime, and honey - good luck keeping any of these in your fridge for another day.

Grey Owl Bochet

Inspired by a French recipe from the late 14th century, it's made with caramelized honey with notes of butterscotch, vanilla, and chocolate orange. It ages well, so be sure to grab a few bottles to taste the changes over the years.

Spirit Hills Bonfire

Perfect for colder days, this mead is made to be drank warm like a mulled wine. It tastes like berry pie and spices, ideally enjoyed in front of an actual bonfire.

Stolen Harvest Ginger Peach

It is ginger and peach. It won double gold, Best in Class, Best in Show, and Mead of the Year at the 2021 World Mead Challenge. Enough said. If you can't get your hands on it, you can try any of their other meads - you can't go wrong.
Opportunity for Alberta restaurants:
Canada Beef and Alberta Beef have a fun program this February that might be of interest to you.  Burger it Forward is a Canada Beef and Alberta beef rancher initiative to support food banks in your region, with a hefty 4 weeks of media promotion to drive traffic to your door. Plus a bonus education package for your staff.

Past participants of #ABonthePlate can check their email for additional information regarding the program, or visit There are only 20 spots available for all of Alberta, so be sure to sign up quickly!

Bits 'N Bites

Alberta Food & Beverage Expo returns to Lethbridge Jan 21
Sample hundreds of wines, beers, delicious cocktails and the best food from Lethbridge’s best restaurants and local suppliers. Tickets are $22.50 for entry, and $0.50/sampling token.
Learn more...
Head to the mountains for Jasper in January 13-29
Jasper's signature Jasper in January festival celebrates the season with everything that makes our frostiest months also our most memorable. For decades, Jasper in January has delivered joyful mountain culture and good times in any weather. Warm your toes and your heart at this playful festival with the help of your favourite winter activities! Learn more...
Explore Edmonton's Byzantine Winter Festival at Deep Freeze
Winter panache, food, art, culture, and winter fun—including races in actual deep freezers! Take an amazing walk, stroll or gallop down Alberta Avenue district and be enchanted by magnificent ice sculptures, song, dance, and tasty delights that share the stories and cultures of Canada's Ukrainian, French-Canadian and Indigenous communities.   Learn more...
Warm up this winter with Calgary's Chinook Blast
From January 27 – February 12, 2023, Chinook Blast warms up our city with a celebration of community, culture, and civic pride. Chinook Blast is Calgary’s winter festival celebration that brings together partners from the arts, nonprofit, neighbourhood, tourism, and sports communities to create an inclusive event that showcases the best of our city. Learn more...

WestLake Grill (Red Deer)

6300 Cronquist Drive, Red Deer  |  403.347.4977  |

Spanning across 207 acres of City-owned property, WestLake Grill is nestled in Red Deer's iconic Heritage Ranch. Surrounded by lush nature, it's no wonder why this establishment is continuously voted as the best romantic dining spot. WestLake Grill transports you to a serene oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city.


MEET A CHEF: Dustin Cooknell
(Three Vikings Food+Drink, Edmonton)

Chef Dustin Cooknell was born and raised on the west coast. He started his culinary adventure at the age of thirteen in Wetaskiwin. Now he’s back in Alberta to raise his family where his adventure started. 

Q: What made you want to become a chef?

“Being raised by a strong single mother is educating, being raised by one who can’t cook is difficult when you love to eat.”

Q: Why do you use Alberta ingredients in your kitchen?

“Coming From Vancouver Island, locally sourced ingredients is just a way of life. Alberta is no different. From the amazing local farms, to the award winning beef, lamb and pork, how could anyone not want to support local?”

Keep reading...

Hot Mead Toddy

Keep warm through those cold winter nights with Chinook Honey Company's recipe using their Fire n Spice Mead Ginger Bochet (but let's be honest, it would be delicious with any mead).  
Get the recipe

Stolen Harvest Meadery (Grovedale)

At Stolen Harvest Meadery, they honour the fact that humans lived for millions of years as fully wild beings and discovered this glorious naturally fermented drink thousands of years ago. Sourcing their products locally and from the wild, they burst onto the scene with three gold medals at the 2020 World Mead Challenge. They are the ultimate experience in terroir: made with local honey means the flavour of Peace Region is in every glass.  

Keep reading...

Tourism Red Deer

Photo: Travel Alberta/Colleen Gara

Tourism Red Deer is a destination organization for the Red Deer region, that includes the City of Red Deer, Red Deer County and tourism operations in central Alberta.  Tourism Red Deer not only promotes and markets the region’s tourism sector, but it also looks to improve it by working on the development side of the industry in central Alberta.

Tourism Red Deer operates thanks to the Joint Venture with the City of Red Deer, a fee for service agreement with Red Deer County and has a membership-based operation where operators pay annual fees, this allows TRD to help with marketing, networking opportunities, offer workshops and assistance in connecting to available grant and financial aid opportunities. They focus on three key pillars that include Food Tourism, Outdoor Recreation, and Arts, Culture, and Heritage.

Learn more...

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