Time for some backyard bounty

April 11, 2010

It’s that time of year again, the time when Canadians crawl out of their winter homes, and find themselves wandering around the yard just because its sunny and  warm.

This summer I’m planning on planting a garden in the back yard of my rental house, and I think I’m going to be in good company.  The city will soon be buzzing with activity in backyards, tilling up gardens and planting seedlings. I can’t wait to get out and tear up a little piece of dirt and fill it my own little vegetable patch.

The city is home of lots of gardeners, including the Guelph and Wellington County Master Gardeners. An organization of amateur gardeners who get together to learn about gardening as well as hosting plant sales.

There is even a professional group in Guelph turning residential yards into urban farms, check them out at Backyard Bounty!


Somethings a little fishy!

April 3, 2010

A recent episode of the CBC show Marketplace investigated the labelling of fish fillets in Canadian supermarkets.

They had their samples analyzed at the University of Guelph’s Biodiversity Institute of Ontario , where they used DNA barcoding to determine the type of fish in each package.

Out of the 153 samples, 34 were mislabeled, thats 22%.

22% of the fish on store shelves wasn’t what it say it was, that’s not good, but this is Canada we have people to look after that for us right!

That is the job of the CFIA, or Canadian Food Inspection Agency, so what do have to say about 22% of fish samples being mislabled.

According to a CBC news story, “Mary Ann Green, the head of the agency’s food safety and consumer protection department.” said “The majority of your products were in compliance.”

Thats right rather then saying, thats an issue we need new legislation or that is unacceptable we will need to look into it, this issue was passed off as being a minor flaw in a working system.

I think it’s time for some major food safety regulatory changes in our country after this blatant ignorance of a major issue.

Clearly we have the technology to monitor these issues it’s simply ignorance on the part of our government that is leading to these issues.


March 31, 2010

It’s sweet.

It’s sticky..

It’s golden brown…

It comes from a tree….

It’s a Canadian tradition…..

And it’s good for you?

That’s right maple syrup is beneficial to human health. According to a new study there are 20 compounds in maple syrup that have antioxidant properties. It’s also known to be a good source of zinc, thiamine and calcium.

It’s that time of year again too, time that soon people all over Ontario and Quebec will be out tapping trees, collecting sap and boiling and bottling their syrup.

In nearby Elmira this past Saturday was the annual maple syrup festival, with thousands attending, touring a sugar bush, flipping and eating pancakes and enjoying the town.

So mix up some pancake batter, flip those flapjacks and pour on the sticky good stuff!

Cheers to maple syrup!

Over a Decade of Ag Education

March 29, 2010
As a Women’s Institute member, in 1993, I was elected to the Board of Directors of OAFE, Inc.
During my term, besides promoting agriculture curriculum to teachers, the board undertook an Agri-Food Advocate training course throughout Ontario, for volunteers to learn how to introduce agriculture into the classroom.
After this training programme, I felt that we needed an agriculture education event in Wellington County, so over the next 2 years, we developed WOW – Wedge of Wellington.
A very talented friend, June Switzer (teacher and 4H leader) helped tremendously by focusing on the curriculum connection to Grade 5 for our projects. Besides WOW, which saw over 1,000 students each year learn about the 4 food groups in pizza ingredients, we also ran the Education programme for IPM 2000 in Wellington County.
Pizza Perfect, now for Grade 3 and in a new location, continues each March and 800 students benefit from this hands-on education.
Margaret J. Aitken
Acton, Ontario.

A day of passion for agriculture!

March 25, 2010

Today has been quite a busy day, up early and on the road to Elora for the Pizza Perfect project at the Grand River Raceway. Pizza Perfect is an day long agriculture education field trip for 3rd grade students,  from three counties.

It consists of 20 stations, in 4 categories; Grains, Red Meat, Dairy and Vegetables. Every student spends 15 minutes at each station learning, through hands on activities, about some part of the agriculture that goes into the pizza they will be eating for lunch.

Today my job was helping with the sausage making station. To my absolute pleasure I got to work with one of my former 4-H leaders, June Switzer, about whom I could write many blogs. With each group we explained how the meat was ground and squeezed into the casing which too their disgust and amazement was actually made from pigs intestines.  We also took the time to explain the differences between our small scale demonstration and large scale commercial production. As well as answering the inevitable “can we eat it now?” question, who’s answer was always a lesson in food safety, and why this was not a safe food production facility!

Kids learning about sausage at Pizza Perfect 2010

A day of passion for agriculture! Cont.

March 25, 2010

In the midst of all the excitement of Pizza Perfect I managed to interview Ashraf Tubeileh, a professor from Kemptville College, for a research story I will be writing on his research into biomass production on marginal lands.

After all this, I made it back to campus for a talk by Troy Bishopp a grazing expert from New York state. He spoke with passion about his career and life in agriculture and provided a refreshing view of the agricultural world. He asked us all what we were passionate about and encouraged us to use everything within our grasp to move towards that goal.

All in all, today was a day full of agricultural passion,  farmers with a passion to teach children about farming and food, a researchers with a passion for a more sustainable fuel and a truly passionate speaker.

American agriculture is responsible for feeding America

March 17, 2010

Is it not the world that is responsible to provide food to the world. Why is it even a question that America has to feed the world, should it not work first at feeding its own citizens.

The food stamp program, in 2000, served 17.2 million people each month, half of which were children.

On top of all those hungry their are 76 million cases of food borne illness in the states every year, and I know not all those are agriculturally related but it is clearly a symptom of a broken food system.

On top of all those hungry and sick because of food their are many more dieing due to their diet.  As of 2008, In 32 states more then 25% of the population was obese.  The list of diet linked diseases go on and on from heart disease to diabetes and many others are at least partially related to the American diet.

I know that these aren’t all the result of the agricultural system, but agriculture is the start of the food chain, so maybe american agriculture should focus on being responsible for feeding Americans first before trying to feed the whole world.