Jumping on the regenerative agriculture bandwagon

But what does that mean for consumers and suppliers?

Jumping on the regenerative agriculture bandwagonRegenerative agriculture is making some noise of late – so much so that some companies are making it a priority. Foods, the world’s largest producer of french fries, just committed to limiting its climate footprint, saying all its french fries will come from farms using regenerative agriculture by 2030. For consumers, this is supposed to…

Food industry code of conduct finally gains traction

Recognizes that manufacturing - including farmers - are the anchor to the entire food supply chain

Food industry code of conduct finally gains tractionA new coalition led by the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has presented a roadmap to peace within the food industry. It’s a positive step forward for the food production industry and consumers. For years, grocers have unilaterally imposed fees on their suppliers, with questionable excuses. While grocers maintained a hard line to protect margins,…

The case for the buy-local movement defies logic

If the fertilizer, tractor and other equipment used to produce by-local carrots were made elsewhere, do the carrots still count as local?

The case for the buy-local movement defies logicIn his 1776 seminal work The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wrote: “It always is and must be the interest of the great body of the people to buy whatever they want of those who sell it cheapest. The proposition is so very manifest that it seems ridiculous to take any pains to prove it.”…

Startup aims to help grow more food with less energy

Edmonton-base G2V Optics working on LED technology that has the potential to improve food security around the world

Startup aims to help grow more food with less energySunlight, water and nutrients – in varying degrees depending on the plant – are the foundation of all plant life. But if you want to see them really grow, one University of Alberta graduate says threaten them with a little shade. Michael Taschuk, founder of G2V Optics, explained that plants growing in a field are always competing…

Students help local food producers boost sustainability

Tackling problems ranging from marketing eco-friendly practices to reducing plastic packaging

Students help local food producers boost sustainabilityCamrose-area farmer Carolyn Herbert wanted to connect with her customers about the food she was selling them but wasn’t sure how best to do it – until some University of Alberta students gave her a hand. Thanks to the efforts of Augustana Campus students enrolled in an Applications in Sustainability course, her family farm now has a quarterly newsletter that highlights its…

New research to fill a critical gap in beef production system

First BCRC-Hays Chair in Beef Production Systems at the U of A to play a key role in building a more sustainable and competitive industry

New research to fill a critical gap in beef production systemGleise M. Silva grew up in Recife, Brazil, a city perched on the turquoise edge of the Atlantic, home to lush forests, stunning beaches and 17th-century architecture. And yet, while living and studying in the “Brazilian Venice,” Silva found herself overwhelmingly drawn towards a subject she would never encounter in her hometown. “I was 100…

$2M boost for the development of new varieties of wheat

To introduce new varieties of earlier-maturing, higher-yielding wheat for Western Canadian growers

$2M boost for the development of new varieties of wheatUniversity of Alberta research to develop earlier-maturing, more disease-resistant wheat for Western Canadian growers is being boosted, thanks to $2 million in support from the Canadian Wheat Research Coalition. A five-year agreement between CWRC and the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences (ALES) supports the development of up to five new wheat varieties for use by farmers…

Food sector gets budget help but there are gaps

Food sector gets budget help but there are gapsSpend, spend, spend – that’s the strategy. And green is the colour of choice. The environment is front, left and centre in the latest federal budget. Everybody is getting something to get more environmentally focused – well, almost everybody. While taxpayers won’t get a break any time soon, the federal government’s footprint in our economy…

Students get virtual taste of real-world life on the farm

With help from Alberta farmers, an online animal science course is giving U of A students an inside look at the agricultural industry

Students get virtual taste of real-world life on the farmOnline classes during COVID-19 can feel a bit distant. But add in 48 farmers and a real-time calf birth, and things perk up considerably. That vivid minute-by-minute experience of watching a Black Angus cow give birth was a matter of lucky timing as Jesse Emery gave University of Alberta animal science students a virtual walking…

Project to create jet fuel from biowaste gets federal funding boost

Innovative research could provide a supply of renewable fuel

Project to create jet fuel from biowaste gets federal funding boostA potentially huge industrial project to create jet fuel from biowaste has received a $2.89-million funding boost from Natural Resources Canada. The investment, which includes $1.99 million in direct funding and $900,000 in in-kind contributions, will go toward setting up an advanced fuel-testing suite in lead researcher David Bressler’s lab and will also support the work of several…

Edmonton startup in race to develop lab-grown meat

Industry poised for rapid growth

Edmonton startup in race to develop lab-grown meatA fast-growing Edmonton startup company that’s a new player in the cellular agriculture sector recently received US$2.2 million from three U.S. venture capital firms and a number of private investors. Future Fields, which was incorporated in 2018, was founded by two University of Alberta graduates and a former U of A employee. All but two…

Agricultural and forestry waste fanning the flames of innovation

Uses range from reclaiming wastewater to capturing carbon and decontaminating soil

Agricultural and forestry waste fanning the flames of innovationIt looks like the throwaway scrapings from a barbecue grill, but biochar is fanning the flames of discovery as University of Alberta researchers explore the product’s environmental benefits. The blackened byproduct – created from waste like cow manure, wheat and canola straw, and sawdust produced in Alberta – has many uses that help the environment…

Do Canada’s grocers need a code of conduct?

While food prices continue to climb in Canada, grocers’ fees, in addition to low margins, haven’t helped manufacturers benefit

Do Canada’s grocers need a code of conduct?Many Canadians are oblivious to the fact that, in the food industry, suppliers need to pay grocers to conduct business. Fees were justified by merchandising costs and shelf space – things anyone would expect. But in recent years, things changed. Companies like Loblaws, Walmart and Metro used infrastructure and capital projects to justify new fees.…

University of Alberta and Telus partner on a 5G ‘living lab’

$15M investment focuses U of A’s innovation and commercialization capabilities, starting with precision agriculture, autonomous vehicles

University of Alberta and Telus partner on a 5G ‘living lab’The University of Alberta has announced a five-year partnership with Telus to establish a 5G “Living Lab” at the U of A that will contribute to a pipeline of new research and technology with commercial applications. It will also support the development of the talent pool needed to enhance economic recovery and diversification in Alberta.…

Innovative livestock grazing approach could reduce greenhouse gases

Innovative livestock grazing approach could reduce greenhouse gasesAn innovative approach to livestock grazing could help eliminate climate change-causing greenhouse gases, according to a new study. The research shows that a strategy called adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing extracts methane gas from the atmosphere, locking it inside the soil through microbial activity. Methane gas has a climate warming effect that is 28 times more potent…

Canadian food autonomy takes a big step forward

McCain Foods ups the ante in TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture

Canadian food autonomy takes a big step forwardWe learned recently that McCain Foods has upped the ante in TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture and its wholly-owned subsidiary GoodLeaf Farms, Canada’s largest commercial vertical farming operation. McCain has invested $65 million in GoodLeaf, making it the single largest shareholder in the venture. The idea is to create a national network of sustainable vertical farms that…

New canola-killing clubroot strains found in Western Canada

Their emergence of nine new strains points to the importance of broader strategies to protect crops in Western Canada

New canola-killing clubroot strains found in Western CanadaNine new strains of clubroot – a disease that can kill canola crops – have been discovered in Western Canadian fields. While that’s not good news for producers, the discovery shows how important it is to build a multi-pronged strategy for protecting their crops, not relying solely on canola plants bred to resist the disease,…

Buttergate compromises the farmer-consumer contract

Deep-rooted problems within dairy industry finally being exposed

Buttergate compromises the farmer-consumer contractThe Dairy Farmers of Canada should be commended for asking members to stop using palmitic acids in feed while launching a national investigation into the matter. For likely the very first time in its history, arguably the most powerful lobby group in the country opted to listen to Canadians. It’s not easy to admit publicly…

Farm practices may have altered the quality of our butter

The increased use of energy supplements is leading to harder butter that doesn’t soften at room temperature

Farm practices may have altered the quality of our butterFor months, thousands of Canadians have taken to social media saying that they’ve noticed that butter sold in Canada is harder and doesn’t get softer at room temperature. Not all butter is harder but most is. Some people blame winter and the colder weather. The truth is more troubling than that. Disturbing reports now point…

Research aims to reduce use of chemical pesticides

Which creepy-crawlies can be harnessed to act as the most effective natural method of pest control?

Research aims to reduce use of chemical pesticidesFields used to grow food are naturally crawling with insects – but which ones can help crops just by being there? A University of Alberta research program aims to find out. Using next-generation DNA analysis, researcher Boyd Mori of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences is looking to see which creepy-crawlies can be harnessed to act as…

Betting on the booming plant protein food market

Many consumers are revisiting their relationship with animal proteins, both at the meat counter and in the dairy products section

Betting on the booming plant protein food marketThink plant protein is just a passing fad? Think again. You likely noticed that the plant-based counter at your favourite grocery store is growing. There’s good reason: people are buying. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the chaos surrounding containment and vaccination rules, consumers are quietly enjoying products made from plant proteins and milk alternatives. According…

Trudeau’s carbon tax short-sighted in so many ways

No thought as to how it could put many Canadian families in a state of food insecurity by 2030

Trudeau’s carbon tax short-sighted in so many waysCOVID-19 has had an impact on Canada’s food industry but, over time, resilience will prevail. However, the federal government’s pre-holiday announcement that it will increase the carbon tax to $170 per tonne by 2030 will have a long-term impact on consumers. Climate change is a real and significant problem. We need to act quickly, and…

The year’s top food-related stories

From lab-grown meat to grocery store staff bonuses to the food-service crisis to gardening and cooking at home to panic buying

The year’s top food-related storiesThe year 2020 was as unusual as they get, with no shortage of stories. Some flew under the radar because of the pandemic but this list is based on how some food-related stories will probably have long-term implications, whether they were related to COVID-19 or not. At No. 10, the apparent end of Tim Hortons’…

Synthetic meat is the new frontier of food

If livestock farmers were threatened by the plant-based revolution, they haven’t seen anything yet

Synthetic meat is the new frontier of foodFor thousands of years, humans have had to kill animals to eat meat. This is no longer the case – at least in Singapore. Cultured meat is now legal in the city-state. The Singapore Food Agency has approved chicken nuggets from a San Francisco-based company called Eat Just, which is known for its cultured meat.…

$2 billion(!) payment to dairy farmers all about politics

The Trudeau government is raiding our Covid-19 starved pockets to send $36 from each of us to rich dairy farmers

$2 billion(!) payment to dairy farmers all about politicsAgriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau chose a Saturday, hours before a long-awaited federal economic update, to offer more non-COVID-19-related compensation to Canada’s supply-managed farmers. Eighty-one per cent of dairy farmers are located in Quebec and Ontario. Compensation was expected but how it was done was a little strange. Few in the industry knew what…

How do we solve the local food paradox?

Most of us want to pay more for locally-grown food and will say so, but few actively look for opportunities to do so

How do we solve the local food paradox?Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting supply chains and impacting purchasing habits, our relationship with food was different. The pandemic has pushed governments to consider food autonomy as a priority and to look more at local supply chains. Discussions are about producing food in Canada, year-round, while offering products to consumers at reasonable prices, especially…

It’s time Canada stopped protecting its dairy industry

Governments tend to forget about consumers when managing supply. Open trade to more cheese and challenge our farmers

It’s time Canada stopped protecting its dairy industryCheese heads – it’s what Canadians are called in many of the United States border regions. It’s because when many Canadians visit their American neighbours, they head straight to the nearest supermarket and buy cheese – and milk and eggs. Dairy and eggs are much more expensive in Canada than in the U.S., even when…

Job rebound sluggish in Canada’s agri-food sector

Job rebound sluggish in Canada’s agri-food sectorStatistics Canada's recent September job market data is reassuring, overall. But for the agri-food sector, the reality is quite different. Overall, employment in the country increased in September, creating 378,000 jobs, the majority of which were full-time. This increase in September brought total employment to 720,000, shy of the level we had before the pandemic.…

As California burns, so does our winter lettuce

Canada depends on imports for fruits and vegetables. We need to think differently about how we feed ourselves during cold months

As California burns, so does our winter lettuceCalifornia is on fire. Although most of the fire-affected territory has nothing to do with agriculture, the smoke is so intense that it could damage many crops. And as fall approaches, the California fires could affect Canada’s food supply for the coming months. Like the labour issues affecting Canadian farmers this summer, this is certainly…

Animal grazing reducing biodiversity around the world

Study of unprecedented scale shows less variety of herbivores and pollinators in grazed areas worldwide

Animal grazing reducing biodiversity around the worldLivestock grazing is reducing the biodiversity of herbivores and pollinators worldwide, according to a new study led by University of Alberta researchers that examined the impact of grazing on a larger scale than ever before. “We looked at the effects of livestock grazing on every continent except Antarctica and what it means for biodiversity,” said Alessandro…
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