Food can teach us love and bring people together, it connects our identities and cultures. But for Dr. Tammara Soma, a food professor at Simon Fraser University, food was originally a source of pain. Join her journey to learn about the healing power of food in her documentary Food is My Teacher, airing on CBC Gem.

Soma is the research director and co-founder of the Food Systems Lab and an assistant professor at the School of Resource and Environmental Management at SFU. She also co-wrote and co-directed her first documentary, Food is My Teacher, with award-winning filmmaker Brandy Yanchyk.

In Food is My Teacher, the filmmakers travel across BC and Alberta on a journey to learn how food is healing within different communities.

“Food is healing in so many ways. It heals one’s body, it heals one’s spirit. It also strengthens one’s cultural identity but most importantly, it brings people together,” says Soma.


Left to Right: Dr. Tammara Soma (SFU), Christina Lee (hua foundation), Gillian Der (hua foundation). Credit: Brandy Y Productions Inc.

In Alberta, Soma visits the Baitun Nur Mosque in Calgary to explore how her Muslim identity has helped her heal her own relationship with food; and travels to the Bow Valley where she met up with volunteers of the Bow Valley Food Alliance and the Filipino Organization in the Rocky Mountains.

One of the spaces highlighted in the film is the Community Kitchen at SFU a space where students often come together to cook and enjoy a plant-based meal. Many of the recipes and student events integrate fresh organic produce grown at the Embark Sustainability Learning Garden.

“When I think about the healing power of food, I think about how our food systems have a lot of unmet potential,” she explains. “We have a food crisis where people are hungry and food insecure and, at the same time, in this current industrial food system we have a lot of food waste.”


(Left to Right) T’uy‘t’tanat-Cease Wyss and Dr. Tammara Soma Credit: Brandy Y Productions Inc.


She notes that food holds the power to heal the body, spirit and also the planet. As a mother of three, teacher and lifelong learner, she has dedicated her life and heart to developing a more equitable and sustainable food system in Canada and beyond.

Food is My Teacher is streaming on CBC Gem.