The Black Lives Matter connected with police brutality and Stop Asian Hate movements have raised awareness that inequities persist in Canadian society and must be addressed. Active reconciliation with Indigenous peoples also requires a fundamental shift in the way people in Canada recognize and address past and present mistreatment. One concrete way of supporting change on an economic level is through the purchasing of goods and services that exemplify equity, diversity, and inclusion.
What are BIPOC businesses?
BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour, thereby recognizing the systemic injustices certain racial groups have and continue to experience. The term also becomes a way of mobilizing social justiceby, for example, identifying businesses run by entrepreneurs who self-identify as members of marginalized groups.
3 reasons to support BIPOC companies
While BIPOC companies produce exemplary goods well worthy of your support, there are also many other social and cultural reasons why they should be championed.
1. Systemic Barriers: Many BIPOC entrepreneurs face numerous obstacles that make business difficult for them, whether it’s less access to financial capital or reduced acceptance by mainstream media. Supporting them allows them to flourish in circumstances that are not always conducive to their success.
2. Community and Connection: Often, BIPOC businesses celebrate unique cultures and draw upon grassroots community. Lifting these companies legitimizes and strengthens what their products represent: diversity and belonging.
3. Prioritising the Local: Large corporations can put small companies out of business, exploit workers, and homogenize culture. Supporting BIPOC companies ensures a local community stays vibrant, with a wide range of products made by individuals who care deeply about what they do.
3 ways you can support BIPOC organizations
While it can be easy to spout platitudes about supporting minority owned businesses, real change requires substantive action.
1. Choose BIPOC: Make the conscious choice to buy from people of colour-owned businesses by researching where various products are made, and who is producing them. Purchase from small local businesses instead of chain companies that dominate the marketplace.
2. Be Creative: You might have other resources that could benefit BIPOC companies, like relevant business connections or your own expertise. Simply asking a BIPOC entrepreneur what they need will give you a better idea of how you could support their business.
3. Spread the Love: Use media channels and word-of-mouth to promote BIPOC companies. Be specific about what products of theirs you recommend, and amplify their affiliated causes.
Top 8 BIPOC Food Businesses Near Me
To get you started supporting local BIPOC entrepreneurs, here are some local food companies as diverse as the products they create.
Jordan Hocking took her love of travel and transformed into a very successful small business that sells some of the best hot sauces in town. Hocking, an Indigenous female entrepreneur and proud mom and wife, believes passionately in the power of food to share culture and forge community. Her recipes for her flavoured Srirachas are based on meals she’s eaten on her travels, as well as her creative takes on traditional ingredient combinations. She crafts small batches, using fresh all natural ingredients that give the sauces vibrant, zingy flavour.
Best Products: Customers particularly enjoy the Clean Mango and Cilantro Lime Sriracha Sauces, which pair incredibly well with tacos as well as a host of other food items.
Gift this: The deep red hue and strong caramel notes of the Beets and Tequila Sriracha Sauce make for an attractive and deeply flavourful gift.
Why buy from Sriracha Revolver: Without colour or preservations, these hot sauces derive all their flavour from real ingredients.
Matthew Murtagh-Wu celebrates the Asian side of his heritage with phenomenal dumplings that are attentively crafted with locally sourced ingredients. Murtagh-Wu supports and champions merchants in the historic neighbourhood of Chinatown. He has developed wonderful partnerships with vendors like Dollar Meat, who supply him with the fresh pork belly for his hand folded dumplings, as well as numerous other long running Chinatown businesses.
Best Products: The Dumpling King gained local fame for his Pork Belly and Scallion Dumplings, seasoned with dark and light soy, Chinkiang vinegar, Shaoxing wine, Worcestershire, and Johnnie Walker Black Label.
Gift this: The Taiwanese-Style Dumplings are a lovely variation of The Dumpling King’s OG dumplings, in this case containing Chinese chives, shiitake mushrooms, wood ear, and ginger, in addition to freshly ground pork belly.
Why buy from The Dumpling King: This local business sells more than just dumplings: it also pays tribute to the hard work of Vancouver’s early Chinese immigrants and their rich contributions to the city’s food culture.
Address: 1370 East Georgia Street, Vancouver
MUMGRY’s profile was significantly raised when Beyoncé’s website featured MUMGRY’s nut butters in its Black Parade Route listing for supporting Black business owners as part of last year’s Juneteenth. Lilian Umurungi-Jung, a Vancouver mom, started the company when she became frustrated at the lack of healthy snack products for expecting and post-pregnancy mothers. Her solution was artisanal nut butters that are full of protein minus the sugar, salt, and artificial additives of similar commercial products. Every step of the production process maximizes flavour and the ideal creamy textures for the nut butters.
Best Products: MUMGRY’s Smooth Peanut Butter contains “only the good stuffTM”, meaning it contains dry roasted peanuts – and that’s it. That way, you get the benefits of folate and folic acid, calcium, and protein, without any artificial ingredients or sweeteners.
Gift this: For a fancy option, buy the PistachioChocolate Almond Butter, with dark chocolate to make this a particularly luxurious spread
Why buy from MUMGRY: MUMGRY makes great nut butters but also builds social community with #MUMGRYMONDAY, which spotlights those who do invaluable service for those in need.
Plant-based food options got a whole lot more delicious with the launch of Kula Kitchen. This Afro-centric company is run by Asha Wheeldon, who immigrated to Canada from her home country of Kenya. Items draw upon her love of the Western African, Middle Eastern, and Caribbean food cultures that she encountered while living in Toronto. “Kula,” which means “let’s eat” in Swahili, embodies the ethos of the company, which offers tasty nourishing items made with plant-based ingredients. Items have a rustic simplicity to them, attesting to how good food doesn’t need to be complicated.
Best Products: Kula Foods’ stews represent nourishment in a jar. The Spicy Chick-Un Stew contains soy curls in a spicy tomato sauce, flavour heightened from ginger, onion, hot peppers, various spices, and cilantro. Meanwhile, the Sukuma Stew comes chock full of red lentils and collard greens.
Gift this: A jar of the Pili Pili Sauce, an East African hot sauce, will add spicy fire to your giftee’s cooking.
Why buy from Kula Kitchen: Kula brings unique Afro-centric flavours to vegan cuisine, showcasing the joys of plant-based eating.
Address: 1370 East Georgia Street, Vancouver
Ariela Badenas and Andrew Chen first started experimenting with tempeh in a BCIT Food Science lab when they competed in a product development competition for Pulse Canada. They won at the regional level for their chickpea lentil tempeh nugget, which they called “Tempea.” The two Food Technologists went on to co-found a local company that makes fresh tempeh from organic, non-GMO soybeans, raising awareness about this nutritious plant-based protein. Chen hails from Indonesia, where tempeh originates, and ate tempeh regularly as a child; Ariela, who is Filipino, is passionate about combining her scientific and cultural knowledge in the creation of Tempea’s products.
Best Products: Their original tempeh takes on the flavour of any marinade or sauce, making it wonderful in stir fries, curries, and soups.
Gift this: Their latest flavour made with organic green peas is sweeter than the original. Give the pair of them as a gift to anyone looking to diversify their protein options.
Why buy from Tempea Natural Foods: Unlike a lot of other tempeh on the market, the company offers freshly fermented unpasteurized tempeh, meaning that it is a living product, free of additives.
Culinary Director and Founder Tushar Tondvalkar grew up with spices in India, alternating between the vibrancy of Mumbai and the more leisurely pace of Malvan in southern India. Tondvalkar realized that many of the spice blends available in Vancouver have been imported and lost their crucial freshness; they also don’t reflect authentic regional Indian spice combinations. In response, he created small batch and freshly roasted spice blends that can be added to vegetables and sauces, as well as dusted on dishes as a final flavour enhancer.
Best Products: Their garam masala is a wondrous mix of aromatic spices, including cloves, star anise, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, cardamom, and nutmeg. Or, try the Malvani Masala, which is based on a time-honoured family recipe and contains spices like caraway seed, turmeric, cumin, and mustard seed.
Gift this: The Cutting Chai Masala, with dried ginger and a range of fragrant spices, would make for a much appreciated gift for warming up on cold wintry months
Why buy from the Indian Pantry: The freshness and slow roasting of the spices ensures that the blends add robust, multi-layered flavour to any dish.
Address: 1370 East Georgia Street, Vancouver Phone: 604-773-6456
7. The Métis Bannock Queen (@themetisbannockqueen)
Jillian Justine Brooks, the Métis Bannock Bannock, learned how to make bannock from her grandfather when she moved to Vancouver, and has since made bannock for customers as a way of sharing her Métis culture with others. Brooks, originally from Fort McMurray (Treaty 8), started selling her bannock when she was looking for a way to fundraise for the non-profit gym where she worked. With the huge popularity of her product, she’s added additional flavours, incorporating local produce, as well as making some of her offerings entirely plant-based.
Best Products: Her plain bannock, with its light texture and neutral flavour, pairs well with jams and chutneys, as well as with any kind of curry or stew.
Gift this: Look out for seasonal fruit flavours, in addition to more savoury versions, like vegan cheese and chive, or bacon and apple. Bring them to a dinner party you’re invited to as a gift for the host.
Why buy from the Métis Bannock Queen: The company donates a portion of its proceeds to very worthy BIPOC charities, like the Urban Native Youth Association and the Hogan’s Alley Society
With a mantra like “Patties for the people,” you can’t help but love Elbo Jamaican Patties. This small business is run by Christopher Boreland who realised his dream of bringing Caribbean street food to Vancouver. He makes a variety of meat and plant-based patties, made flavourful with spices like turmeric and allspice, as well as ancho chiles and Scotch Bonnet peppers. Eat them with Elbo plantain chips and tomato garlic chutney for the ultimate Jamaican meal.
Best Products: The spicy beef has a very satisfying filling of slow simmered ground beef with green onions, yellow peppers, and garlic. They come frozen for easy reheating.
Gift this: If you know a vegan who’s craving Jamaican patties, give them a half dozen of the wild mushroom patties, packed with mixed wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, and garlic.
Why buy from Elbo Jamaican Patties: These patties are bold in flavour and incredibly convenient for a quick snack or meal.
Address: 1370 East Georgia Street, Vancouver Phone Number: 604-340-7043
Why Supporting BIPOC Businesses Makes a Difference
Although buying Jamaican patties or Taiwanese dumplings may seem like a very small gesture of allyship, every purchase will make a positive impact for these local businesses. BIPOC entrepreneurs pour their hearts into their products, so any support you can give validates their talent, their culture, and ultimately the food that they produce.