Saturday, February 25, 2012

Here's What's Wrong With Our Food, But We Can't Fix It By Eating Alone

GreennovateChina/Video screen capture

by Sami Grover - Science / Sustainable Agriculture

From whale meat for sale on Amazon to exploding pigs in the Midwest, the symptoms of a broken food system are evident everywhere.

A new video from GreennovateChina, the folks who brought us the Real Cost of Our Clothes, does an excellent job of outlining the challenges we face.

From an overly industrialized food production system, through a reliance on corn and GMOs, to neglecting the health of our soils and marketing foods based on cravings and psychology, not nutrition, this is a pretty comprehensive overview of the major issues that advocates for healthier, more sustainable food are trying to fix.

Unlike some sustainable agriculture advocates, the video is also not afraid to tackle the most contentious elephant in the room—over consumption of meat and its impact on our health and our ecology. As witnessed in the EWG's Meat Eater's Guide, consumption of certain meats and cheeses can dramatically increase a person's individual carbon footprint, so encouraging a more measured approach to consuming animal products and/or considering vegetarianism is clearly a key part of any attempt to encourage greener, less harmful diets.

But given GreennovateChina's willingness to tackle the meat issue, I am disappointed they left out another key step in changing our food system—voting and campaigning. At risk of sounding like a broken record, voting and shopping are not the same thing and I am personally not convinced that they are even separate but equal. Sure, the video references Carlo Pettrini and Jamie Oliver's explicitly political attempts at changing our food system, but the summary in conclusion (shown in the screen grab above) leaves the politics in the shopping cart and/or in the class room.

Yes, what we buy everyday shapes the politics of food, and yes we have to educate ourselves and make better choices, but unless those better choices are reflected at the ballot box as much as the cash register, I fear we'll all be tut tutting at the salad bar in Whole Foods while the rest of the world goes to hell in a hand basket. Maybe you have to meet (meat?) the world where it's at, and perhaps the audience for this video is not ready to man the barricades. But let's not pretend that education and eating are enough. At some point we've got to raise our voices too, even if we talk with our mouths full. the full story at

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ontario's Local Food Champions

Report Recognizes Innovative Leaders

TORONTO, February 22, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The growth of Ontario food in our public institutions is inspiring. Today we celebrate those who change the food on plates in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and educational institutions. The Ontario's Local Food Champions report recognizes five organizations from across the food value chains that exemplify leadership and provide solutions to incorporate more Ontario food on their menus.

"In just under a year we have seen outstanding growth in sales and volumes of Ontario food served in public institutions," said Burkhard Mausberg, CEO, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. "This report recognizes a few of the many champions working to make local food the standard at our hospitals, schools and daycares."

This year's Ontario's Local Food Champions represent the dynamic changes happening across foodservice. Here are the highlights:

School Food Action Coalition: Peel District School Board, Compass Group Canada (Chartwells), Peel Public Health and EcoSource

...Achieved designation as the first school board in Canada to implement a local food buying policy for secondary schools
...Educated students about benefits of Ontario food by inviting farmers' to visit schools
...Hosted a culinary competition for students with the winning recipe used by Peel District School Board
...Created material with Compass Group Canada to identify locally sourced menu items at 200 schools

Nutrition Group at St. Joseph's Health System, Group Purchasing Organization and My Sustainable Canada

...Sourced Ontario food for St. Joseph's Health System, Group Purchasing Organization's 28 health care facilities by including local food language in their Requests for Proposals
...Led to a 15 per cent increase in local food purchased, representing $670,000 in sales
...Created a guide to conducting origin of food audits with other health care facilities

Gordon Food Service Ontario

...Recognized as one of the largest broad line distributors in Canada, GFS assigned a team to implement a local food strategy
...Produced over 800 local products, all suitable for large institutions
...Expanded the availability of local products resulting in a 10 per cent sales boost in one year
...Established relationships with local farmers to help them adopt food safety practices and meet the packaging expectations of public institutions

Don's Produce

...Provided local produce to eight hospitals, 22 long-term care facilities, 17 universities and schools and five child care centres across southwestern Ontario
...Developed a program to help chefs and foodservice buyers increase their purchase of local produce and monitor quarterly progress
...Provided a seasonal availability chart to help chefs and foodservice managers efficiently plan their menus to incorporate local produce

University of Guelph, Hospitality Services

...Created a department-wide Sustainability Plan to support local farmers and educate consumers on and off campus about the benefits of buying local
...Supported the local economy and the 75 farmers who sell at the Elmira Auction Co-operative by purchasing products for the University of Guelph
...Succeeded in elevating local produce purchases to 45 per cent
...Identified processing and preserving methods to ensure local stays on the menu beyond harvest

These five champions were among 20 nominations received to help select the 2012 Champions. An advisory committee reviewed the nominations and assisted in the selection process. The nominations represent the impressive amount of work and dedication going into bringing more local Ontario food into public institutions. To read the stories of other nominees visit

"The Ontario government is committed to working with farmers, food processors and distributors to bring more Ontario food to our tables at home, in the school cafeteria, and in other public institutions," says Ted McMeekin, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "Supporting Ontario food contributes to healthy meals and a healthy economy."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Take a walk down memory lane with 'Milk Calendar Moments'

An entertaining retrospective of favourite recipes, original photography, world events and unforgettable moments in pop culture

TORONTO, February 21, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Dairy Farmers of Canada launched a new microsite for Milk Calendar fans called "Milk Calendar Moments". This new feature was developed as part of the year-long celebrations for the 35th anniversary of the Milk Calendar. "Milk Calendar Moments" lets Canadians take a walk down memory lane by seeing vintage recipes and calendar covers in the midst of memorable events and pop culture news from the past four decades.

"Dairy Farmers of Canada hears from people everywhere about how the Milk Calendar has earned a special place in their kitchens and in their hearts," says Claire Payette, director, marketing, Dairy Farmers of Canada. "So many people grew up with the Milk Calendar, hanging it with care in their kitchen and keeping track of the family's activities throughout the year. Over the years, the Milk Calendar's editions have become diaries for many Canadian families."

Inspired by the deep history of the Milk Calendar, the "timeline" is a place where users can interact with the Milk Calendar in a whole new way. It allows them to scroll through a social timeline of the past 35 years and share their favourite memories with their friends via Twitter, Facebook or email. The recipes are at the forefront, however, it goes far beyond that and includes newspaper clips, music videos, as well as fun and interesting facts.

"The Milk Calendar has roots that run deep," says Mickael Kanfi, chief product officer with the digital marketing agency Twist Image, who developed the microsite in collaboration with Dairy Farmers of Canada. "Canadians have been sharing their memories with Dairy Farmers of Canada for years. We believe making the memories public and shareable is the perfect way to celebrate the 35th anniversary."

As months go by, Canadians will be able to go back in time and relive some of their favourite Milk Calendar Moments by visiting, while the Milk Calendar team will continue to post new memories with every new launch of the Milk Calendar.

About Dairy Farmers of Canada

Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) strives to create favourable conditions for the Canadian dairy industry, today and in the future. DFC works to maintain policies that foster the viability of Canadian dairy producers and to promote quality Canadian dairy products made from 100% Canadian milk as part of a healthy balanced diet

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Canadians Face Challenges When Working from Home

Basic office technology is lacking in many home workspaces

DOLLARD-DES-ORMEAUX, Quebec, February 10, 2012 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - Almost half of employed Canadians work from home at least occasionally, but their home offices may be impeding their productivity. New research from Ipsos Reid and Brother Canada reveals that one quarter (26%) of employed Canadians work from home at least once a week, with another quarter (23%) doing so on occasion.

However, despite the popularity of working from home, many home offices have room for improvement. According to the study, only two in 10 Canadians (22%) who work from home like the fact that their home office set-up is efficient and functional. Only three in 10 (28%) like the fact that their home office has resources that are equivalent to those at an outside office. And, not surprisingly, this has a negative impact on productivity: only two in 10 (23%) respondents say they like the fact that they are more productive from home.

According to Marc Ruel, Home Office Expert at Brother Canada, the survey results are proof positive that most Canadians are not taking the right approach to working from home.

"Being productive when working from home is a direct result of being organized," he said. "The right workspace is essential. Your home office does not need to be decked out with all of the latest bells and whistles, but it does need to be properly equipped and carefully planned. Most important, people who work from home must treat their home office like it's their real office - no pyjamas, no folded laundry, and no distractions."

When it comes to home office technology, the study indicates that many home offices are not up to par. When questioned about what they would expect to find in a home office, most respondents listed a high-powered computer or laptop (79%) while seven in ten (72%) would expect to have a printer. However, only 65% of respondents actually have a printer in their home office, and only six in ten (60%) have a high-powered computer or laptop.

Other things that working Canadians would expect to have in a home office include a quiet room (64%, just 43% have one), a scanner (61%, just 45% have one), home office products with wireless capabilities (57%, just 31% have one), a fax machine (52%, just 28% have one), and a smartphone (36%, just 24% have one).

According to Marc Ruel, the right home office equipment depends entirely on the worker:
"There is no set rule for the technology that's required in a home office, although it's worth noting that recent innovations have brought us affordable all-in-one machines that can perform multiple tasks and save on both money and space. If you're just starting out, make a list of your daily tasks and consult with a professional at your local office supply store to find out what machine is best for you."

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between September 30 and October 4 2011, on behalf of Brother. For this survey, a sample of 1,025 working Canadians from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and political composition to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of working adults in Canada been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About Brother Canada:

Brother Canada celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010. The company was established in Montreal in 1960 and is part of a worldwide network of companies belonging to Brother Industries Ltd, of which the corporate headquarters is situated in Nagoya, Japan. Active in over 100 countries, Brother markets a wide range of business machines and home appliances known for their reliability, ease of use and versatility at affordable prices. Numerous Brother products have been awarded significant honours. Recent awards for the company include: the PC Mag Reader's Choice Award 2011 for the quality and reliability of Brother B&W and colour laser printers and all-in-ones, as well as the internationally recognized iF Product Design Award 2011, commending seven Brother products for their innovation and quality of design. Brother Industries Ltd. is a 6 billion-dollar (USD) company employing more than 29,000 people operating in 44 countries and regions around the globe.

About Ipsos Reid:

Ipsos Reid is Canada's market intelligence leader and the country's leading provider of public opinion research. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos Reid employs more than 300 research professionals and support staff in Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in Canada, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and on-line panels. Ipsos Reid's Canadian marketing research and public affairs practices are staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, offering the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada—including the Ipsos Trend Report, the leading source of public opinion in the country—all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant information. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group. To learn more, visit

Monday, February 6, 2012

Future Physicians call upon Government of Canada to remove barriers to rural practice

OTTAWA, February 6, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) is bringing tomorrow's physicians to Parliament Hill for its annual Lobby Day. Medical students from Vancouver to St. John's will meet with Members of Parliament and Senators to explore strategies for improving access to health care in rural and remote regions of Canada.

The medical students believe that all Canadians - regardless of location - deserve adequate, quality care. According to Health Canada, the population-to-doctor ratio in rural Canada will grow to over three times the national average by 2020. "We want to work with the federal government to strengthen health care and ensure accessibility to all Canadians," says Chloé Ward, Vice President Advocacy for the Canadian Federation of Medical Students.

The CFMS applauds Parliament for addressing this issue. In March 2011, the federal government announced that it will forgive a portion of Canada Student Loans for new family physicians working in rural and remote communities. Nonetheless, the value of this incentive is limited. New graduates begin to pay off their loans during medical residency training, before they are eligible for the loan forgiveness. Noura Hassan, President of the Canadian Federation of Medical Student, says "We are requesting that the government defer repayment of these loans until the completion of medical residency training. This would more effectively attract new medical graduates to rural and remote communities and better serve the needs of Canadians."

The CFMS is also calling upon the federal government to allocate funds for the establishment of mentorship programs that attract rural students to medical school. While 1 in 5 Canadians live in a rural or remote area, this is true of only 1 in 10 medical students. Additionally, students from rural Canada are 2.5 times more likely to practice in a rural community upon the completion of their training. Mentorship programs in the United States and Australia have been highly successful in recruiting rural students to careers in medicine.

"These are simple, sensible strategies for improving health care access to those for whom it is least available," says Matthew Tenenbaum, Vice President of Communications. "It is important to ensure that the principle of accessible health care is realized everywhere in this country."

The Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) is a national organization that represents over 7500 medical students at 14 medical schools across Canada.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Grain Farmers of Ontario Calling for the Ethanol Misinformation to Stop

GUELPH, Ontario, February 1, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Once again the George Morris Centre pits farmers against one another in a report falsely accusing the ethanol industry of causing harm to livestock farmers.

Since one third of the corn used for ethanol becomes livestock feed through an ethanol byproduct called distillers grains, the effect of the ethanol industry in Ontario on our feed supply is negligible. In fact the George Morris Centre report actually shows that livestock production has been maintained in recent years and livestock prices have been at or near record high levels despite the growth of the ethanol industry.

"There are so many examples of erroneous information in this report that I am disappointed Canadian livestock producers would choose to point a finger at the ethanol industry as the culprit for lost revenue," says Don Kenny, Chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario. "Many of my neighbors with livestock are also enjoying high grain prices so we are talking about the same farmers here."

Instead of pointing fingers and placing blame, Grain Farmers of Ontario offers to work cooperatively with the livestock industry in pursuit of solutions that will raise the value of the whole agricultural industry. Grain farmers are pleased with the recent gains in the livestock industry because the grain industry depends on a healthy livestock sector.

Corn yields in Ontario are growing at a rapid rate and without the ethanol industry to take the corn, there would be a significant glut in the market with a detrimental impact on corn farmer income. In fact, the increase in corn production since 2000 is almost equivalent to the increased amount of corn going for ethanol production.

The George Morris Centre study states that there is unfair competition between livestock and ethanol grain buyers due to government subsidization and tariffs. Grain farmers in Ontario are not protected from an influx of American corn by a tariff. In addition, subsidies are not unique to the ethanol industry.

"The benefit of ethanol should be looked at from the big picture in Canada, not through the single lens of livestock production. Let's not forget that the 5% ethanol mandate is reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 2 million tonnes each year," says Kenny. "That is equivalent to taking 440,000 cars off the road."

Ethanol production from grain has meant a 62 percent reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions on a per-litre, per-calorie-of-combustible-energy basis. This Canadian-made fuel contains 1.6 times the energy content that is required to grow the grain.

Grain Farmers of Ontario invites livestock farmers across Canada to work with us on a solution to increase the value of all Canadian agricultural production at the farm gate and includes all available market opportunities.

Grain Farmers of Ontario

Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) is the province's largest commodity organization, representing Ontario's 28,000 corn, soybean and wheat farmers. These three crops cover 5 million acres of farm land across the province, generate over $2.5 billion in farm gate receipts, result in over $9 billion in economic output and are responsible for over 40,000 jobs in the province.

More Information

A full report on the Canadian ethanol industry, What are the Effects of Biofuels and Bioproducts on the Environment, Crop and Food Prices and World Hunger, is available online at This study, prepared for Grain Farmers of Ontario by Terry Daynard, PhD and KD Communications, is a review and analysis of 65 internationally recognized studies specific to the production of biofuels both globally and in Canada and their impact on the environment, world grain prices, world hunger and the implications for grain farmers in Ontario.

Getting the facts straight: Canada's dairy industry

New website launched by Dairy Farmers of Canada; counters misinformation

OTTAWA, February 1, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new website launched by Canada's dairy industry takes the bull by the horns when it comes to setting the record straight on the country's supply management system for milk.

Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) has created the site in an effort to dispel misinformed myths about Canada's dairy industry and its successful supply management system, which has delivered Canadians a reliable supply of top-quality dairy products for 40 years.

"Canadian dairy farmers don't receive any government subsidies and earn their income entirely from the marketplace," said Wally Smith, DFC President. "Consumers in other places where the dairy industry is subsidized, like the United States and the European Union, pay twice for their dairy products — once at the store and one more time through their taxes."

DFC's new website will be updated regularly with various types of content (video, commentaries and others) during the next year. For now, it busts popular myths, such as:

Myth: Supply management stops Canada from signing free trade agreements.

Reality: Supply management hasn't stood in the way of Canada's ability to successfully negotiate trade agreements. Since 1986, Canada has concluded NAFTA and bilateral agreements with Jordan, Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica, Chile, Israel and EFTA (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).

Myth: Only Canada manages imports of dairy products.

Reality: Supply management does not close doors to imports. The EU, with heavily subsidized dairy products, exports to Canada 10 times what it imports, even though it has more than 500 million consumers.

Myth: Canadian dairy farmers are subsidized by taxpayers.

Reality: Canadian dairy farmers receive no government subsidies for milk. American governments spent $4 billion in subsidies for dairy farmers in 2009, or about 31 cents per litre, and European dairy farmers receive 55 billion Euros in subsidies per year.

"We hope that the facts on this new website will help people understand how our dairy industry works and see through some of the falsehoods currently being passed off by some as truths ," said Wally Smith.

DFC is the national policy, lobbying and promotional organization representing Canada's farmers on 12,965 dairy farms. DFC strives to create stable conditions for the Canadian dairy industry, today and in the future. It works to maintain policies that foster the viability of Canadian dairy producers and promote dairy products and their health benefits.