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!

Small Farms can Feed the Hungry

February 24, 2010

When it comes to discussions of food and agricultural policies the question is frequently raised of how can we feed the poor and the hungry people of the world. For the past 50 years the mainstream idea has been that the subsidized production of specialized commodity crops provides the cheapest production of calories possible and that therefore those in hunger with little money would be able to afford more food. But recently their has been a major movement contouring this argument which believes that the production of the most calories both cheaply and environmentally in a local diversified system would be a better option. A newly published study showed that “small family farms can match or exceed the productivity of industrial-scale operations” another states “That’s the kind of agriculture that’s friendly to biodiversity, and that’s the kind of agriculture that peasant farmers actually do.” Maybe its time to take another look at our standards for agriculture and our food system.

Better Barley=Better Malt=Better Beer

February 8, 2010

Agriculture research can have some pretty diverse impacts but few are closer to an aggies heart or maybe an aggies beer gut then that smooth malt flavor of their favorite beer. Thats right agricultural research into barley malt, a group  of researchers at the agriculture research service lab in Madison Wisconsin are doing just that. Chemist Mark Schmitt and plant physiologist Allen Budde, have been doing just that for years, having published a paper in 2007 and 2008 on the topic. They have analysed over 200o of North America’s best malting barleys and are comparing their enzyme activity and ability to break down proteins and complex sugars while sprouting, in the malt production process.

So lets all raise a glass to some fantastic agricultural researchers!

Improving Farm Life in Haiti

January 29, 2010

Today, the front page of the University of Guelph website today is boasting an article about a research project aimed at researching sustainable farming methods for Haitian farmers. The lead researcher on the project is Manish Raizada is researching the potential of producing sustainable agriculture kits that could be distributed to small farms and improve their agricultural practices. This type of well thought out research is what Haiti really needs in this time of need, as opposed to the impact foreign intervention has had in the past as is mentioned in a recent Toronto Star article about the plight of creole pigs in rural Haiti.  Lets hope that their are good improving times arriving to Haitian farmers sooner rather then later!

New Respect for an Old Crop, Sunflowers!

January 13, 2010

A new $10.5 million research project is ready to get started at the University of British Columbia under project leader Dr. Loren Rieseberg has aims of developing a reference genome for the entire sunflower family. The sunflower family is the last agriculturally important plant family that doesn’t already have a reference genome. This family of plants is also current the largest family of plants in the world with 24,000 species. An article on Science Daily describes the possible advances in sunflower breeding that could be achieved with this new knowledge. Perhaps hybrid sunflowers could be produced that could produce both large amounts of edible seeds and large woody stocks that could be used for cellulostic ethanol production.