'Salad bar extremism': Edmonton researchers release second report on violent extremist movements

Those most at risk of committing hate-based violence are less likely to be members of a formal “group” than they were three years ago, an Edmonton-based research team has found.

On Wednesday, the Organization for the Prevention of Violence released its second report on extremist movements — a follow-up to a 2019 report on hate and extremist groups in Canada, with a focus on Alberta.

Through interviews with around 200 members of the RCMP, city police agencies and community organizations across the province, the researchers found that many of the groups which made headlines in years past are now largely defunct — and that a new, more individualistic mode of radicalization has taken hold.

“The FBI director in the States has used the analogy of ‘salad bar’ extremism,” said OPV executive director John McCoy. “I think that’s quite an apt description. You take a little bit of this, a little bit of that.”

The OPV, which conducts research and runs a program to help people exit extremist groups, launched in 2016 and focuses on violent extremism in the Edmonton area. The agency is funded by the federal government and REACH Edmonton, a community safety group, and operates independently of law enforcement, though it includes several current and former police officers on its board.

The authors of the latest report — Michele St-Amant, David Jones and Michael King and McCoy — set out to update the 2019 study, which catalogued the number and types of extremist movements active in Alberta. They included freemen-on-the-land and sovereign citizen movements to militias to Neo Nazi and white supremacist groups to Al-Qaeda spin-offs like ISIS. 

“When we were doing the research for the 2019 report, a lot of the focus was on a group-based phenomena,” McCoy said. “There was still a lot of talk about militia groups like the Three Percenters, we had a longstanding legacy of Neo Nazi groups in the province … there was still a focus in law enforcement and the national security sector on Daesh or ISIS and the legacy of recruitment of foreign fighters, with a decent contingent coming from Alberta.”

“All of that’s changed in three years.”

In particular, groups including Combat-18, Blood and Honour, the Three Percenters, Soldiers of Odin and the Proud Boys are all mostly “defunct” according to law enforcement officials interviewed for the study. The Three Percenters and Proud Boys were both added to Canada’s list of terrorist entities in 2021, though law enforcement officers interviewed by the researchers said the groups were largely in decline before the listing occurred.

The collapse of ISIS’s “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria has also led to a decline in religiously motivated violent extremism.

Instead, those who pose the biggest threat now are more likely to be defined by “idiosyncratic” grievances picked up in — and egged on by — fringe online communities, McCoy said. He pointed to the Nova Scotia mass shooter, who had “long-standing anti-authority grievances,” as well as the brothers in Saanich, B.C., who engaged in a shootout with police at a local bank,  and were “down the rabbit hole of anti-government conspiracy but weren’t necessarily part of an identifiable group.”

He said individuals who engage with violent extremist content typically have a history of trauma or early childhood adversity, addictions issues and “acute” social isolation worsened by the pandemic.

“Those individuals did not do well the past few years. The social isolation only worsened, the mental health worsened, and the trauma was always there.” 

He said part of the shift to “salad bar” extremism has been driven by the relative ease with which formal groups have been infiltrated by law enforcement.

Now, “it’s not easy to monitor them through their affiliations,” McCoy said. “It becomes very difficult to say this person is a legitimate threat, and this (other) person needs a social care response; this person needs law enforcement intervention and arrest, and this individual needs counselling.”

The full report is available at preventviolence.ca

[email protected]


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Esquites Recipe (Mexican Street Corn Salad)

In time for Mexican Independence Day, Chef Paula Zavala has shared a delicious recipe for Esquites, a traditional street food made from simmered corn and traditional seasonings.

Often mistaken for Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day actually takes place on September 16 to celebrate the country’s declaration of independence from Spain.

Esquites is a favourite street food in Mexico, made from simmered corn on the cob and traditional seasonings.

A cold Dos Equis makes a perfect pairing for this traditional street food favourite.

Esquites Recipe (Mexican Street Corn Salad)

One recipe tip is that the epazote herb is very important to this dish; it is commonly used in Mexico cuisine.

Epazote has a strong taste and aroma.

It can be somewhat of an acquired taste, but it adds a wonderful rustic layer of flavor to many dishes.

While it is best to use fresh epazote, the dried form can be used if no fresh herbs are available.

The peak season for the herb is in winter, but it is available year-round.

It is easily available in Canada at all Latin American stores.

Esquites Recipe


  • 1 Tbsp neutral oil (avocado, sunflower or canola)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup white onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno or ½ poblano pepper, diced
  • 4 cups white corn kernels
  • 1 cup water or a bit more just to almost cover the corn
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp dried or fresh epazote 

To garnish (all optional)

  • 1 tsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Anejo or Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Chili Powder (Tajin)
  • Lime juice 


In a medium pot melt the butter and add the oil, sauté the onion and jalapeno pepper for 2 minutes at medium heat. 

Add the fresh corn kernels and sauté for another 5 minutes or until soft.

Add salt, died epazote and water to almost cover the corn, season to taste, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the corn is cooked.

Once cooked you should still have some liquid. 

Serve in small bowls.

Garnish to taste with mayonnaise, cheese, lime juice and chili powder.

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Conversation With: Salad and Go CEO Charlie Morrison

As CEO, Charlie Morrison guided Addison-based Wingstop through more than a decade of growth, growing the franchise chain from 500 to 1,800 units and navigating it through the pandemic. Earlier this year, he announced his resignation and move to lead Salad and Go—a healthy, drive-thru-only restaurant chain that had only 60 locations at the time. With the move, Morrison opened an Addison office the company, where he will be based.

“It’s going to build this brand for the future,” Morrison says of the new space.

Morrison also recently announced his aggressive growth plan in North Texas, with plans to open seven Salad and Go locations in the region this month alone: two in Frisco, one in Fort Worth, one in Burleson, one in Cross Roads, one in Mesquite, and one in Prosper.

Here, he shares why he chose to invest in the budding Salad and Go brand, his vision for the company, and more.

D CEO: How did you make the decision to leave Wingstop and join Salad and Go?

MORRISON: “I had a great career there, and nothing was wrong. About 20 months ago or so, I joined the board of Salad and Go and was recruited to do that. I got to know the company very well over that timeframe. As the brand was growing and developing, we knew there was a need for a new CEO to help scale growth and build it up.

“As we were looking around and starting our search, I reflected on the great success that I had had at Wingstop, but also the unique nature of this brand and what it was all about, which really is tied to our mission of making fresh and nutritious food convenient and affordable for all. It really resonated and connected with me. So, I threw my hat in the ring.

“To grow and expand another company in my career, as I get older, was an opportunity I just felt like I had [pursue]. They said yes. So, here I am, and I’m excited about the opportunities ahead.”

D CEO: Why is DFW the right spot for growth—and these seven new locations?

MORRISON: “It’s our goal to put locations all over the United States, ultimately. Phoenix was our original market, and we have been expanding within Phoenix, as well as into other markets here soon, such as Las Vegas and others.

“Dallas is a great market for restaurants, as we know. It always has been. It’s a great economy here in Texas at large, especially in Dallas, and the large population with the consumer spending patterns that we see really makes it attractive for us to put these locations here and really grow the business.

“It’s also a great place for us to anchor one of our food manufacturing facilities. We have a small one today down in South Dallas, but we’ll be building, over the course of the next eight months, a scaled, 100,000 square-foot-plus processing plant that will serve as many as 400 locations throughout the greater Texas area, as well as in Oklahoma and surrounding states.

D CEO: What about Salad and Go’s production and product is unique?

MORRISON: “We’re a vertically integrated brand. We start straight from the grower, and we bring our produce in and we cut it, wash it, process it, and get it prepared for our stores. When they get to the stores, it’s all about assembling the salads to order for our customers. So, it’s a disruptive approach to how restaurants work, typically. By owning our own supply chain, we maintain a lot of control, but we also take a lot of costs out of the equation, and we return that back to our customers in the form of a great value for our salads.

“[Our Michelin Star chef] is Daniel Patino, and he is a co-founder of the company. He’s been with us since the very beginning and has perfected all the recipes that go into the making of not only the salads, but the dressings.

“What I love about it is that he’s able to bring really unique flavors that you would expect to see in very fine dining into a quick-service restaurant setting by way of how we develop and manufacture. Although it seems unheard of, it’s actually very doable. Everything that [Patino] does is very, very particular. The coffee beans that we use to steep our cold brew are hand selected; the romaine comes from dedicated fields that will only use certain growers to grow romaine lettuce; we cut corn straight off of the cob fresh and put it into our salads.

“Things like that really makes a difference in the quality and the credibility of our products. So, to have somebody with the depth of experience, culinary expertise that he has is a real advantage. Beyond that, he’s not only an investor, he helped build the brand from the very beginning. Very few quick-service restaurant chains have that. I think it puts us in a unique position—and a good one.”

D CEO: What has it been like leaving a franchise brand for an independent chain?

MORRISON: “There are pros and cons to each type of model. Franchisees ultimately are the ones who spend their capital for the investment. There’s a lot of work to make sure that you’re delivering to them a great model that’s efficient, and sometimes that can be a way to accelerate growth and spread out faster.

“A controlled model like ours is one we prefer for two reasons. No. 1: we can control the pace of expansion, and where we go, and it ties back to our production of food. The other is we love the economics of this brand and the results that we’ve seen so far, so we want to keep those closer.

“We believe the best way to grow this brand is to maintain that control, not only in terms of where we put the locations, but more important, around food quality, consistency, training—everything that goes with that. That makes this model, for us at least, a lot more attractive.”

D CEO: What has stopped other quick-service restaurants from using a similar model to Salad and Go?

MORRISON: “We are a capital-intensive [chain], so there’s a lot of investment to be made, and I think some organizations get nervous about making those capital investments. They may choose to franchise sooner, putting that investing on the backs of their franchisees.

“We’ve made a concerted effort to invest well ahead of the size of the business to make sure that we can scale and grow into that and do it right from the get-go. That takes a lot of courage and commitment and conviction from the team, and the board, and the owners. We are committed as such and so therefore, the fruits of our hard work and commitment in the near term will pay off in the long-term.

D CEO: Where does that investment come from for Salad and Go?

MORRISON: “It’s predominantly private equity-backed, with some angel investors, generally supported by large family offices.”

D CEO: How are you navigating the industry’s current staffing shortages?

MORRISON: “The way we’ve built our model is that our stores are only 700 square feet, which means you can’t put a lot of people in there to begin with. It’s designed for really high efficiency and low staff levels to run it.

“We can run a Salad and Go with as few as three people and at max maybe eight. Our roster sizes are quite small, so we’re able to still attract talent versus some other concepts. Even in the quick-service restaurant space that needs 50 or more people on their rosters, we need fewer than 20. I think that gives us a competitive advantage to be able to attract that talent. We also pay very competitive—if not above-market—wages. That’s part of having that efficient model of production; it allows us to pay a little bit more and get the best talent in the market.”

D CEO: What are your long-term plans for the company’s growth?

MORRISON: “By the end of this year, we’ll have about 90 locations between Phoenix and Dallas. By next year. We’ll more than double that—or at least double that—so, closer to 180. We expect that we’ll be building close to 100 stores a year after that, If things move the way we think they will.

“The way we approach our development is to [blanket] markets—go in and add a lot of stores in one market and aggressively expand there. That helps with the efficiency of our food production facilities and scale the business quickly. So, I would expect that will be [at 400 locations in the Southern U.S.] within a few years.

“I think the potential in this market would be somewhere around 150 locations, and over five years we hope to open as many of those in as we can.”

This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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Thai Glass Noodle Salad (Yum Woon Sen)

Combine vibrant, crunchy veggies with peanuts, chewy glass noodles, and a lightly spicy Thai dressing to make this delicious Thai glass noodle salad (Yum Woon Sen)! It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and ready in just minutes!

top shot of Yum Woon Sen glass noodle salad Continue reading

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Jess Damuck’s Caesar Salad Pizza

This recipe is brought to you by SAVEUR Cookbook Club, a passionate community of food-loving readers from around the globe that features our favorite authors and recipes. Join us as we cook through a new book every two months, and share your food pics and vids on social media with the hashtags #SAVEURCookbookClub and #EatTheWorld.  

My friend Shira said that her daughter Nova thought spreading the mustard on the raw dough of this pizza was a mistake, like the time I wore a jumpsuit with big pockets on the front and Nova thought I was wearing my pants backwards. But she ate it and thought it was magnificent, just like oversize patch pockets. I love that, and I love piling my pizza high with salad and making it feel healthier but still indulgent at the same time.

Note: Bake times vary widely depending on how your oven is retains heat; start checking the crust after 6 minutes and the escarole after 2. 

Featured in “How to Make a Salad—Mindfully.”

Jess Damuck’s Caesar Salad Pizza

America’s favorite “salad freak” transforms the classic starter into sliceable party fare in this fresh, 90s-inspired recipe.
Yield: serves 4

40 minutes


  • 1 lb. store-bought or homemade pizza dough, left at room temperature for 30 minutes
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. finely grated garlic
  • ¼ cups extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ cups grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 2 lemons, 1 seeded and very thinly sliced crosswise, 1 cut into wedges*
  • ½ head escarole, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
  • 6 boquerones (white anchovies) or other good-quality anchovies
  • Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 500°F. Place a pizza stone (or upside-down baking sheet) on the bottom rack.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin, roll and stretch the pizza dough into a 12-inch rectangle or circle (no need to be precise), then transfer to a lightly floured pizza peel or sheet of parchment paper. Using a silicone brush, paint the dough with the mustard, then add the garlic and spread evenly over the mustard. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with the kosher salt. Sprinkle with the parmesan, then scatter with the lemon slices. If using a peel, slide the pizza onto the stone (if using parchment, place the dough directly on top) and bake until the crust is golden and puffy, 7–15 minutes (see headnote). Remove from the oven. Carefully move the pizza stone to the top rack.
  3. Heat the broiler on high. Atop the crust, pile the escarole, then drizzle with the remaining oil and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Slide back onto the stone and broil until the escarole is well-charred, 2–10 minutes. Remove from the oven, drape with the boquerones, and top with flaky salt and more parmesan. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges.

*Styling Tip: This is pretty light as far as pizza goes, but serving it with plenty of lemon wedges really brightens it up and makes it—and anything at all—look even more fresh and appealing. Cut lemons or limes in half lengthwise (from tip to tip) and then lengthwise again into sleeker wedges or width-wise into smaller smiley looking “Weeble-Wobbles” for a different look.

Excerpted from Salad Freak: Recipes to Feed a Healthy Obsession, by Jess Damuck, published by Abrams. Text © 2022 by Jess Damuck.

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