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.
HIV/AIDS, Big Pharma, and Food

This broadcast attempts to tie together some of the most pressing global issues and observe just how interconnected our food choices are to the world around us, and just how significant of an impact our food choices can have on the shape and future of this planet and its inhabitants.

The connections between the global pharmaceutical industry and global food may not be so apparent, but the most startling example is the push to begin growing genetically modified crops to provide ingredients to the pharmaceutical industry. But as such technology is not yet approved for commercial use, we travel to Africa, where the connection between Big Pharma and Food exists today. In brief, the connections appear as such; pharmaceutical companies profit off of an industrial food system that in turn contributes to poverty and food shortages, which in turn contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS, and then, the pharmaceutical companies profit from the drugs they produce to treat the virus.

Helping to make the connections, Deconstructing Dinner uses audio productions from InterWorld Radio (IWR), a part of the UK-based Panos Institute, an international media organization which produces news, features and analysis about the most critical global issues of today.

Featured Audio

"Malawi: Toxic Hunger" - Around one million people in Malawi live with HIV and AIDS. Many people who fall ill find it hard to farm, and struggle to get enough to eat. Antiretroviral drugs which help boost the immune system can help people regain their strength. But taking such potentially toxic treatment without food can be dangerous. Research by the UK's Overseas Development Institute argues food security is essential to break this vicious cycle. In Malawi, the charity Care International supports vulnerable households by running communal vegetable gardens. Hilary Mbobe visited Steria, who is living with HIV, in the village of Matapila. 01/02/2007

"The Food On Your Plate" - More and more countries are producing food they don't eat and eating food they don't produce but is this a good thing? Do the big supermarkets have too much power? Is the organic movement and local production and consumption a sensible way forward? 15/10/2003

"Ghana: Foreign Flavours" - Rice and chicken is a signature dish in Ghana and there's plenty of demand for the raw ingredients. But only if the price is right. Ghana's farmers find they can't compete with cheap cuts of meat from the European Union or subsidized rice from the US, and it's fueling hardship. Isaac Tetteh reports. 16/02/2006

"Zambia: Buying Your Way Out of Hunger" - Each year wealthy nations donate more than five million tonnes of food aid to poorer countries. But some aid professionals think giving food should be a last resort. They say many people facing food shortages would be better off with cash or vouchers to spend in local shops. Researchers who looked into a scheme in Zambia's western province in which aid workers gave out cash instead of food aid say the results are promising. Pamela Mnyantha reports. 01/02/2007

"Zambia: GM Under the Microscope" - Genetic modification or GM is one of the most hotly contested technologies of today. Embraced in the US and shunned in Europe it affects the food we eat, our environment and the livelihoods of farmers. Genetic modification involves altering the genes of plants and animals in an attempt to produce crops more efficiently. But questions over its safety and whether it is in fact superior to other farming methods have divided consumers and scientists.Zambia was catapulted into the heart of the controversy three years ago when it famously refused American food aid during a famine because it contained GM maize. The government still maintains its ban today - not least, some say, because it wants to hold onto its European market. But farmers in Zambia are divided about the issue. IWR reporter Pamela Mnyantha found out what's happening in Zambia now. 07/04/2005

Direct download: DD052407.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:56pm EST

Livestock: Updates and Issues

Since the inception of Deconstructing Dinner in January 2006, a growing number of broadcasts have explored livestock as a topic for discussion. This broadcast will revisit with a number of guests who have previously appeared on the program. These topics are in much need of an update, and the three programs to revisit on this broadcast are "Eggs" (Jan.12/06), "Bacon and Marshmallows: The Story Behind Pork" (Mar.23/06) and "Slaughterhouses on the Butcher Block?" (May.4/06).

Topics of discussion.......1. An update on the elimination of battery cage egg production in Canada. 2. An update on the elimination of sow gestation stalls within Canada's pork industry. 3. The battles waged between communities and intensive livestock operations (ILOs). 4. An update on the new British Columbia meat inspection regulations that threaten the future of the province's small-scale livestock industry.


Bruce Passmore - Farm Animal Welfare Project Coordinator, Vancouver Humane Society (Vancouver, BC) - Bruce first appeared on the program on January 12, 2006 and launched our broadcast titled "Eggs". The VHS coordinates the Chicken Out campaign - working towards the elimination of battery cages within Canada's egg industry.

Vicki Burns - Executive Director, Winnipeg Humane Society (Winnipeg, MB) - Vicki first appeared on the program on March 23, 2006 and launched our broadcast titled Bacon and Marshmallows: The Story Behind Pork. The society had been coordinating the Quit Stalling campaign to see the elimination of sow gestation stalls from Canada's pork industry. In February 2007, Canada's largest pork producer Maple Leaf Foods, announced that they will phase out the use of these stalls over the next 10 years.

Elaine Hughes - Stop the Hogs Coalition (Archerwill, SK) - Elaine appeared on the program on March 23, 2006 during our broadcast titled "Bacon and Marshmallows: The Story Behind Pork". At a meeting held in Archerwill on April 9, 2003, it was learned that North East Hogs/Big Sky Farms Inc. was proposing to establish a 5000-sow mega hog operation somewhere in the Tisdale/Archerwill area. The coalition is a group of concerned ratepayers of the Rural Municipalities of Barrier Valley and Ponass Lake that are opposed to this proposal. We hear an update on this issue.

Cathy Holtslander - Beyond Factory Farming Coalition (Saskatoon, SK) - The BFF promotes livestock production for health and social justice. They promote livestock production that supports food sovereignty, ecological, human and animal health as well as local sustainability and community viability and informed citizen/consumer choice. They recently authored The Citizens' Guide to Confronting a Factory Farm.

Faye Street - General Manager, Kootenay Livestock Association, (Cranbrook, BC) - Faye first appeared on the program in May 2006 for our broadcast titled "Slaughterhouses on the Butcher Block?". The KLA is a registered society whose members are livestock producers in the East and West Kootenay region of BC. They promote the beef cattle industry in the Kootenays as a viable and valuable resource. The association has been working to respond to new provincial meat inspection regulations that threaten the future of the small-scale livestock industry. We hear an update on this issue.

Don Davidson - Project Manager, Meat Industry Enhancement Strategy, BC Food Processors Association (Vancouver, BC) - The BC Meat Industry Enhancement Strategy (MIES) was formed in 2004 to manage new provincial meat inspection regulations and the subsequent transition for processors across the province. It was developed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries in conjunction with industry and the BCFPA.

Direct download: DD051707.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:52pm EST

Farming in the City II

Many forms of urban agriculture have existed for thousands of years. For city dwellers growing food in backyards or even on window sills, this is essentially, farming in the city.

As practical and environmentally friendly as growing food within a city can be, the art of gardening has seemingly disappeared in many urban settings. As current farming practices are proving to be unsustainable in the long-term, urban agriculture is looked upon by many as being a critical shift that needs to take place if we are to ensure a level of food security in the near and distant future.

This broadcast marks the second of an ongoing series that will explore urban agriculture in British Columbia, Canada, and around the world. Featured on the broadcast will be the launch of an on-line community of gardeners with the hope that every lawn in British Columbia will contain a food producing garden. We will learn of an innovative project that links up underutilized backyard garden space with those willing to urban farm it. When we think of urban agriculture, rarely do we think of growing mushrooms! The steps on how to go about becoming an urban mushroom grower will be shared on this broadcast.


Steve Pedersen - Coordinator, Public Health Association of BC (PHABC) (Victoria, BC) - PHABC works towards preserving and promoting the public's health through disease and injury prevention, health promotion, health protection and healthy public policy. Their recently launched Every Lawn A Garden project is hoping to see every household in BC have a food garden (a 'local' food supply) and for every community in BC to increase the capacity of its local food supply through a system of community and local gardens.

Michael Levenston - Executive Director, City Farmer (Vancouver, BC) - Since 1978, City Farmer has taught Vancouver residents how to grow food, compost, and take care of their gardens in an environmentally friendly manner. Referring to themselves as Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture, City Farmer maintains one of the most comprehensive on-line resources of urban agriculture information. A recent addition to their web site is an on-line tool titled Sharing Backyards, allowing city dwellers with unused garden space to link up with those looking for a space to garden.

Peter Mcallister - Woodlot Director / Mushroom Grower, Lofstedt Farm (Kaslo, BC) - In 1991 Peter obtained a 1500-acre Government Woodlot, situated in the Farm's watershed. It is now being ecologically logged with Percheron horses, and he also needs the help of qualified forestry trainees, in a separate enterprise from the farm. For the past 8 years Peter has explored the world of mushroom growing, and is now offering workshops on how to grow edible mushrooms at home.

Direct download: DD051007.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:58pm EST

Coffee, The Earth, and the Future of Civilization

It's been a long time in the making here on Deconstructing Dinner to air a feature on coffee, the second most valuable traded commodity in the world, second only to petroleum.

And so if coffee is the most valuable agricultural commodity on the planet, then deconstructing coffee is possibly the closest we can come to deconstructing humanity itself.

Coffee is constantly scrutinized for its human and social impacts around the world, but rarely do we examine the environmental consequences of a Tim Horton's Double Double, a Starbucks Cappuccino, or even an Organic/Fair Trade Espresso.

This broadcast will examine how the removal of human labour from the coffee industry has led to poverty, hunger, environmental destruction and climate change.


Adam Tomasek - Priority Leader for Borneo-Sumatra, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) (Washington, D.C.) - In January 2007, WWF released a report titled "Gone in an Instant". The report finds coffee lovers the world over are unknowingly drinking coffee illegally grown inside one of the world's most important national parks for tigers, elephants and rhinos -- Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Indonesia. Illegally grown coffee is mixed with legally grown coffee beans and sold to such companies as Kraft Foods and Nestle among other. This coffee is threatening the future survival of 3 animal species.

Daniel Fourwinds - Capulin Coffee (Nayarit, Mexico) - Capulin is a hand crafted, traditionally sun-dried, 100% jungle shade grown natural coffee. Capulin claims to provide the sweetest, least bitter and most stimulating 100% Arabica Tipica coffee available anywhere, and provides more money per pound directly to local villagers than any other coffee company on the planet. This coffee illustrates the destructive forces ALL water-processed (washed) coffees are having on people and the planet.

Benji Hansen - Clean Bean Cafe (Nelson, BC) - The Clean Bean Cafe exclusively sells Capulin Coffee. Located alongside the main highway running through the city, the coffee is sold out of the back of a trailer and is essentially a drive-thru coffee shop. But while Capulin Coffee presents a real opportunity for social and environmental change, Benji Hansen is encouraging yet another level of change by NOT offering ANY take-out cups. Instead, Hansen maintains a 'mug orphanage' whereby customers are free to take their ceramic mug with them! Hey fast food chains and coffee shops..........take some notes!

Direct download: DD050307.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:07pm EST