Deconstructing Dinner
Deconstructing Dinner is a podcast/radio show that broadcast between 2006 through 2011 with a brief return of a handful of episodes in 2014. Almost 200 episodes are available on topics ranging from corporate consolidation, animal welfare, urban food production and the local and good food movements. With host Jon Steinman.
Co-operatives - Alternatives to Industrial Food I

Listen to a few broadcasts of Deconstructing Dinner, and choosing food may suddenly become an intimidating adventure. It is of the utmost importance that we also bring our listeners examples of alternatives to the industrial food system that is spiraling out of the control of Canadians.

Enter the co-operative model of operating a business. Long an example in Canada of how people can assume control over our needs and resources, co-operatives as an alternative to the industrial food system will be the focus of this series. This is an exciting series, as we ourselves at Kootenay Co-op Radio are a co-operative too.

How does a co-operative differ from a traditional business? Most importantly, a co-operative is owned and democratically controlled by the people who use the services or by those working within the co-op. A co-op is operated for the benefit of members and members have a say in decisions affecting the co-op. In the case of food, such a premise directly challenges many of the pressing issues Deconstructing Dinner explores on a weekly basis.

On this Part I of the series, we look at how co-operatives can provide an alternative to the retail and distribution sector of Canada's food system. The province of British Columbia has some of the most innovative cooperatives in the country, and the two co-operatives featured on today's broadcast are both located within the province: the Kootenay Country Store Co-operative in Nelson, and FoodRoots, a newly established distributors co-operative in Victoria.


Abra Brynne, Board President - Kootenay Country Store Co-operative (Nelson, BC) - The Kootenay Co-op is a large, member-owned cooperative offering natural, organic foods and products in Nelson. Since its inception in 1975, the Co-op has taken a leading role in promoting natural, organic foods and products, sustainable living and supporting local, organic farms and businesses and fair trade organizations. With over 7,000 members, the store is a leading example in Canada of an alternative to the conventional model of food retailing. Abra has been a member of the store since 1991, was a staff member until 2000, and is now the President of the Board. 

Jocelyn Carver, Human Resources Director - Kootenay Country Store Co-operative (Nelson, BC) - In March 2007, Jocelyn helped organize an event/meeting for the 55 staff members of the Kootenay Country Store Co-operative. The meeting explored food sovereignty and food security, and invited local farmers and suppliers to come and speak to the staff. Such a meeting would be unheard of within the conventional retail system, and Jocelyn was invited onto the show to share this experience.

Staff of the Kootenay Country Store Co-operative - Joy Farley, Anneke Rosch, Niels Petersen, Allana McConachy and Ben Morris

Lee Fuge and Susan Tychie, Co-Founders - FoodRoots (Victoria, BC) - Incorporated in October 2006 as a co-operative, FoodRoots has been formed to promote a local sustainable food system by creating the infrastructure link between the eaters/consumers and the growers and processors in the Victoria region. They promote sustainable food grown naturally as close to home as possible, and place a priority on Certified Organic. FoodRoots works hard to educate eaters/consumers about local agriculture and food security issues, and the co-operative challenges the conventional distribution systems controlling Canada's food system.

Direct download: DD032907.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:46pm EST

Is Organic Worth the Price?

Demand for organic food in Canada has been growing steadily at 25 percent a year. With new federal regulations passed in December and a new Canada Organic logo backing organic claims, the Canadian organics sector can expect this growth to continue. Canadians are becoming more health conscious and concerned about the safety of our food system. Consumers need to be aware of new information about our food, especially as it relates to our and our children's health. That's why scientists, children's health experts and the general public discussed what it means to grow up organic at the one day conference "Growing Up Organic" in Toronto on February 17th , 2007. The conference was hosted by Canadian Organic Growers.

The organic standard bans the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, additives, genetically modified organisms and irradiation. The result is food that has fewer toxic residues and a healthier ecosystem that will sustain food production over the long term. With the growing popularity of organics, people are asking many questions. Some of the more common questions include: Are organic foods really healthier? Should I be buying organics for my children? Are organics worth the higher price? The body of knowledge around organics continues to emerge, as scientists and nutritional experts conduct studies to answer these kinds of questions.


Ann Clark, Associate Professor in Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph (Guelph, ON) - Dr. Clark's research program encompasses pasture and grazing management and organic agriculture, as well as risk assessment of genetically modified crops. A native Californian, she studied at the University of California at Davis and at Iowa State University. Her academic career started at the University of Alberta, but she has been at Guelph since 1983. In a career spanning 26 years, she has authored 15 books or chapters in books, presented papers at more than 50 conferences and symposia, and published 25 refereed journal and 150 technical and extension articles. She currently teaches Crop Ecology, Crops in Land Reclamation, Managed Grasslands, and several courses in Organic Agriculture, and coordinates the new Major in Organic Agriculture.

Peter Macleod, Executive Director of Crop Protection Chemistry - CropLife Canada (Toronto, ON) - CropLife Canada is a trade association representing the developers, manufacturers and distributors of plant science innovations (pest control products and plant biotechnology) for use in agriculture, urban and public health settings. Peter MacLeod has spent his career in the field of scientific research and regulatory affairs. His research activity has mainly focused on the degradation of pesticides in soil and water but he has also managed environmental toxicology studies and food residue studies. Peter is an active participant on the Pesticide Management Advisory Committee to the Federal Minister of Health and has served on many panels on pesticides and risk management. Born in Yarmouth , Nova Scotia his fondness for Agriculture and Science led him to attend the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. He graduated in 1987 with a B.Sc. (Agr.) Hon., Dalhousie University.

Ellen Desjardins, Public Health Nutritionist - Region of Waterloo Public Health (Waterloo, ON) - Ellen has worked in various programs throughout the province and at the federal level for the past 20 years. Ellen has co-authored numerous articles in the area of food security. She has also chaired work-groups and prepared position papers for the Ontario Public Health Association on food systems, public health concerns about food biotechnology, and mercury in fish. In 2005, Ellen was a founding member of the new national organization Food Secure Canada.

Wayne Roberts, Coordinator, Toronto Food Policy Council (Toronto, ON) - Wayne moderated the session of the conference titled Is Organic Worth the Price?. The Toronto Food Policy Council partners with business and community groups to develop policies and programs promoting food security. Our aim is a food system that fosters equitable food access, nutrition, community development and environmental health.

Direct download: DD032207.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:06pm EST

Vandana Shiva - Rice, Genocide and the Patenting of Life

In 2001, well-known food activist Vandana Shiva spoke to an audience in Vancouver at an event sponsored by the Basmati Action Group. It was during that time that the company RiceTec, had recently attempted to patent basmati rice, a staple of Indian and Pakistani livelihoods and diets. The Basmati Action Group was formed to launch a North American-wide boycott on all products produced by the company.

Vandana's lecture addresses the patenting of life and the genetic modification of food. She speaks of the crisis in India that continues today, where over 40,000 farmers have taken their lives as a result of what she refers to as genocide by the multinational pesticide and seed companies.

The broadcast explores the new Green Revolution being pushed onto the African continent by the Bill and Melinda Gates and Rockefeller Foundations. We explore the company Bayer, and their role in the recent contamination of the global supply of rice with an unapproved variety that had been genetically modified.

The segments of Vandana Shiva's lecture were recorded by the Vancouver-based Necessary Voices Society.


Vandana Shiva, Founder - Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology / Navdanya (New Delhi, India) - Vandana has been involved in the protection of ecosystems, farmers, and food security for well over 2 decades. Shiva studied philosophy at the University of Guelph in the late 70's and moved on to complete her Ph.D in Quantum Theory Physics at the University of Western Ontario. Using her background in physics and her love of nature, she began questioning how science technology has impacted the environment In 2001 she founded a program called Navdanya, formed to provide education and training on subjects such as biodiversity, food, biopiracy, sustainable agriculture, water and globalization. She is the author of dozens of books.

Direct download: DD031507.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:51pm EST

Deceivable Dairy II

Clean, white, wholesome milk, cream, butter, cheese, yogurt and ice cream - very common ingredients within the diet of Canadians.

On part II of the Deceivable Dairy series, we look deeper into the dairy industry and explore the politics of production, trade and animal welfare.

The welfare of dairy cattle was explored during part I of the series, but the framework for regulating and monitoring the welfare of animals in this country may shock you.

Canada's dairy industry is one of three industries that operate under a supply management system. The system is one of the last remaining protections for Canadian farmers to the threats posed by cheap imports. We have seen how the heavily subsidized agricultural sectors in the United States and Europe have already threatened farmers here in Canada, and many are now worried that supply management is at risk of being undermined.

But supply management has its critics, and they're not just the big industrial processors. In an age where local production is essential to combat climate change, the current structure of supply management has created a barrier for farmers to produce milk for their own communities.

This broadcast will also take a look at some of the major dairy processors in Canada. As 70% of all Canadian dairy is processed by 3 companies, getting to know these companies is essential when getting to know your milk, cheese, butter and yogurt.


Shelagh MacDonald - Program Director, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) (Ottawa, ON) - The CFHS is the national voice of humane societies and SPCAs. They bring together those who work with, and care for animals to promote respect and humane treatment toward all animals. The CFHS plays a crucial role in farm animal welfare in Canada. The CFHS is a founding member of the newly-formed National Farm Animal Care Council.

Jan Slomp - Farmer / Alberta Coordinator, National Farmers' Union (NFU) (Rimbey, AB) - Born and raised in the Netherlands, landed as immigrants in Canada with his wife Marian and three children in the spring of 1989. They bought a small dairy farm in Rimbey, central Alberta where their herd of 70-80 cattle are raised on grass. Jan is the Alberta coordinator of the NFU - a national organization that works toward the development of economic and social policies that will maintain the family farm as the primary food-producing unit in Canada.

Direct download: DD030807.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:21pm EST

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Food Sovereignty is the human right of all peoples and nations to grow food in ways that are culturally, ecologically and economically appropriate for them.

The idea of food sovereignty as it applies to Western cultures, is one best illustrated through the many recurring topics covered here on Deconstructing Dinner: control of resources, control of agricultural practices, control of production/distribution/retail, and the inability for Canadian communities to viably reclaim and create food systems that better serve the needs of the people within those communities.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty is a much different concept, and as broadcasts of Deconstructing Dinner often explore the food systems of the Western world, and how they impact health, environment and people, there is much to learn from the foodways of North America's indigenous people. The modern food system of today could not have been made possible without the destructive forces of colonialism, and its impact on the food supply of this continent's earliest inhabitants. This destruction continues today.

Through the eyes of indigenous food sovereignty, this broadcast will look to better understand the ways in which the modern food system has disengaged all peoples from our land.


Nicole Manuel - Neskonlith Indian Reserve, Secwepemc Nation (Chase, BC) - Nicole spoke to an audience in October 2006 at the Bridging Borders Toward Food Security Conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia. Nicole was at the forefront of the demonstrations that took place in 2001 on the land that is now Sun Peaks Resort north of Kamloops, British Columbia. The land was an important location upon which the Secwepemc Nation gathered and hunted their traditional foods.

Paul Smith - Oneida Nation/Heifer International, Indian Nations Program (Wisconsin) - Although their original homelands were in the area of New York, the Oneida Nation is scattered today in several parts of North America (Wisconsin, New York, and Canada). The Oneida Indian Reservation in Wisconsin (a few miles north of Appleton and southwest of Green Bay) is where many members of the Oneida Nation reside. Paul spoke to an audience at the 2006 Bridging Borders Toward Food Security Conference in Vancouver.

Nancy Turner - Professor of Ethnobotany, School of Environmental Studies, Univeristy of Victoria (Victoria, BC) - While working on her thesis, Dr. Turner collaborated with Saanich First Nations elders to learn about the significance of plants to their culture. Her post-graduate work concentrated on plant classification systems among the Haida, Nuxalk (Bella Coola) and Stl`atl`imx (Lillooet) people. Her major research contributions have been in demonstrating the pivotal role of plant resources in past and contemporary aboriginal cultures and languages, as an integral component of traditional knowledge systems, and how traditional management of plant resources has shaped the landscapes and habitats of western Canada. Dr. Turner spoke to an audience in February 2007, as part of a lecture series titled "Acceptable Genes? Religion, Culture and the Genetically Modified (GM) Foods Debate" Her lecture was titled "Why Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Beliefs Matter in the Debate on GM Foods".

Direct download: DD030107.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:04pm EST