Fri, 25 April 2008
Omega-3s are indeed a hot topic, although it appears that all we North Americans really know, is that Omega-3 eggs, fish and fish oils, and flax products, are all good sources. Consuming these products as we've been told, reduces the risk of heart disease.
Of course the responsible thing to do is to remain skeptical and question any new diet craze that hits our culinarily confused culture. As for Omega-3s, it appears some critical information has evaded the radar of North American media and hence the eating public.
In a fascinating book by Author Susan Allport, the history, science and hype surrounding Omega-3s is laid out for all to see. Titled "The Queen of Fats - Why Omega-3s Were Removed From the Western Diet and What We Can Do to Replace Them", Allport reveals that our collective understanding of these vital fatty acids is way off.
According to Allport, lacking in exposure has been Omega-6s, another family of essential fatty acids that compete with Omega-3s. And so if both are in competition, why is it we never hear about the 6s?
In October 2007, CBC's The National aired a segment on the increasing confusion surrounding Omega-3s and questioned how much fish new and expecting mothers should be consuming. After a read through The Queen of Fats, it appears that not only has the CBC deepened this collective confusion, it has equally encouraged the further pillaging of our already vulnerable oceans.
Unlike most media coverage on diet and nutrition, this episode will not so much suggest what you should or should not be eating, but will instead look to capture how our lifestyles and the industrialization of our food has had devastating impacts on our health.
We also hear segments from a September 2007 interview between Host Jon Steinman and Cargill Canada President, Len Penner.
Susan Allport, Author, The Queen of Fats (Katonah, NY) - An award-winning writer for publications such as the New York Times and Gastronomica, Susan Allport has spent the past decade exploring how food shapes behavior and health. In 2006, University of Calfornia Press published her book The Queen of Fats: Why Omega-3s Were Removed from the Western Diet and What We Can Do to Replace Them.
JoAnne Buth - President, Canola Council of Canada (Winnipeg, MB) - A national trade association representing producers, input suppliers, processors and marketers of canola and its products.
Len Penner - President, Cargill Canada (Winnipeg, MB) - One of Canada's largest agricultural merchandisers and processors with interests in meat, egg, malt and oilseed processing, livestock feed, salt manufacturing, as well as crop input products, grain handling and merchandising. The company is a subsidiary of Cargill Limited based in the United States. In February 2007, Deconstructing Dinner ran a 2-part series on the operations of the company.
Fri, 18 April 2008
The beer industry is always a fascinating one to take a look at, as beer was one of the first industrialized food and beverage products. The focus for the first segment of this episode will be on the recent global shortage of hops - the key flavouring component of most beers. At the March 2008 Certified Organic Associations of BC conference, Host Jon Steinman sat down with brewer and farmer Rebecca Kneen of Sorrento, BC's, Crannòg Ales. Crannòg is Canada's only Certified Organic farmhouse microbrewery and growing on the farm are some of the hops that end up in their beers. In 2002, Kneen published a manual on small-scale organic hop growing and she is extremely excited at the attention the manual has received since the hops shortage hit home.
We also listen in on a workshop hosted at the COABC conference by Biodynamic farmer and egg producer Karl Hann. Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that treats the farm as a unified and individual organism, emphasizing balancing the holistic development and interrelationship of the soil, plants and animals as a closed, self-nourishing system. Hann's presentation was titled "The Good, The Bad and The Balance". He explored the importance of microorganisms in the soil and uses the biodynamic farming philosophy to convincingly illustrate how disruptive and destructive most dominant farming practices are today.
Rebecca Kneen, Craft Brewer / Farmer, Crannòg Ales (Sorrento, BC) - Crannog Ales is Canada's only Certified Organic farmhouse microbrewery, one of only a handful of such breweries in the world. They brew unfiltered, unpasteurized ales using only organic ingredients, some of which come right from their own farm - Left Fields. Located on the farm is a hopyard, which is home to over seven varieties of hops. The hopyard forms the basis for ongoing research into organic small-scale hop production.
Karl Hann, Farmer, Biota Farm (Abbotsford, BC) - Karl is a biodynamic farmer and egg producer. He was a Green Party candidate for the Abbotsford riding during the 2004 federal election. Karl was born and raised in Romania and has been living and farming in Canada for over 20 years.
Fri, 11 April 2008
On March 20, 2008, Deconstructing Dinner shared the history and outcomes of the most recent battle between farmer Percy Schmeiser and global seed giant Monsanto. Raised during that broadcast was the very basis for the battle; a product release form issued by Monsanto to farmers who wish to have unwanted genetically-engineered plants removed from their fields by the company. Schmeiser took exception to this form, and on this broadcast we probe further into the controversies and possible hidden agendas behind the use of this form for such purposes. Host Jon Steinman engaged in a heated conversation with Monsanto's Public Affairs Director, Trish Jordan, and he shares a number of shocking discrepancies between statements she made on March 19 and 20, 2008. Steinman also spoke with Schmeiser's lawyer, Terry Zakreski, who confirmed that the release form in question is indeed worth questioning!
While GE-crops remain a heated concern on the prairies, the debate over their presence in Canada's food supply took an important step in Ottawa on April 3, 2008. Canadians have long been demanding that foods containing genetically-engineered ingredients be labelled. Since 1993, over six Bills have now been introduced by Members of Parliament, with the most recent being Bill C-517. First introduced into the House of Commons on February 2008 by the Bloc Québécois's Gilles-A. Perron, the Bill is calling for the mandatory labelling of foods containing genetically-engineered ingredients. On April 3, 2008, C-517 was debated in the House by members of all parties. Deconstructing Dinner recorded the debate and followed up with Conservative MP Bruce Stanton who opposes the Bill.
Gilles-A. Perron, MP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, Bloc Québécois (Saint-Eustache, QC) - Gilles-A. was first elected as Member of Parliament in 1997 and was re-elected in 2000, 2004 and 2006. He currently serves as the Critic on Veterans Affairs.
Bruce Stanton, MP Simcoe North, Conservative Party of Canada (Orillia, ON) - Bruce was first elected to the House Of Commons in January 2006.
Robert Thibault, MP West Nova, Liberal Party of Canada (Yarmouth, NS) - Robert Thibault was first elected to the House of Commons as the Member of Parliament for West Nova in November 2000 and was re-elected in 2004 and again in 2006. In July 2004, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health. He currently serves as the Health Critic.
Nathan Cullen, MP Skeena-Bulkley Valley, New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) (Smithers, BC) - Nathan Cullen was elected to his first term as Member of Parliament for Skeena-Bulkley Valley at the age of 31, on June 28, 2004. He was soon named the New Democratic Party's national critic for three key portfolios: Environment, National Parks and Youth.
Marcel Lussier, MP Brossard-La-Prairie, Bloc Québécois (Brossard, QC) - Lussier ran for office as a member of the Bloc Quebecois in the 2004 election, but was defeated by Jacques Saada. In the 2006 he ran again, defeating Saada by approximately 2% of the vote. Lussier has been appointed as the environment critic by Bloc's leader, Gilles Duceppe.
Fri, 4 April 2008
In March 2008, BC NDP Opposition Critic of Agriculture and Lands' Corky Evans, toured throughout the Province to hear from farmers. Deconstructing Dinner recorded his stop in Nelson, when he delivered a passionate and highly-informative primer on the failures of the BC government in recent decades to allocate financial support to food production within the province. Of greatest interest was his reference to BC maintaining the lowest level of support for food production of any Province. He presented a number of opportunities that farmers, eaters and political parties must take advantage of now, in order to preserve a viable system of food production into the future.
While the content of his presentation was focused on BC, his message is important to all Provinces and States throughout North America, as the scenario that has played out in BC, can be seen as an extreme version of what is playing out across the continent.
We round off the show with a recording from the March 2008 conference of the Certified Organic Associations of BC hosted in Sidney. Presented at the conference were the winners of the COABC's Fresh Voices contest. The contest solicited submissions from anyone wishing to share their vision of how "sustainable organic production and marketing systems could improve profitability, stewardship of the land and water, and quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities". The winner of that contest was Jordan Marr who has been embarking on a path towards becoming a farmer. He presented his winning essay to those in attendance at the conference.
Corky Evans, MLA Nelson-Creston / NDP Opposition Critic for Agriculture and Lands, "New Democratic Party of British Columbia" (Winlaw, BC) - Corky Evans was elected as the MLA for Nelson Creston in 1991, and was re-elected in 1996. He was once again elected to represent his constituents on May 17, 2005. Corky has ten years experience as an MLA, during which time he served in many cabinet portfolios, including Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. He now serves as Opposition Critic for Agriculture and Lands.
Jordan Marr - Wanna-Be-Farmer (Sooke, BC) - Jordan is a 26-year-old self-titled "wanna-be farmer" who has been visiting farms throughout BC hoping to learn more about the practical and political aspects of farming. In the span of five years, Jordan has, as he says, gone from being a suburban kid completely clueless about food to a smug university student convinced he knew everything about food, to a humbled farm apprentice who realized he knew very little about it. In 2006 Jordan graduated from a bachelor program in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia, and then apprenticed for seven months on an organic farm in Nova Scotia. Today, Jordan is considering farming as a career.
Fri, 4 April 2008
A special Podcast and Internet-only feature on Deconstructing Dinner. On February 29, 2008, Bloc Quebecois Member of Parliament Gilles Andre Perron tabled Bill C-517 in the House of Commons; calling for the mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods. On April 3, the 2nd reading debate took place involving Members of Parliament from all four political parties. The following is an unedited recording of that debate.