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.
Genetically Engineered Crops - A "Spectacular Failure"? w/ Dr. E. Ann Clark

On our April 9 episode, Deconstructing Dinner examined the precarious state of the University of Guelph's organic agriculture program. As was learned, the University had chosen to cut the program along with others displaying low enrollment. The program now sits in limbo. The episode explored the key decision makers at the University in an effort  to determine why the lion's share of research funding at the school is directed towards the genetic engineering of lifeforms and the corporate control of seeds instead of towards organic research. As a coordinator of the organic agriculture major, Dr. E. Ann Clark's work within the Department of Plant Agriculture has provided her with an ideal vantage point from which to critically analyze the outcomes of the genetic engineering of the food supply also underway at the university.

On May 10, Deconstructing Dinner recorded Ann speak at an event hosted by the Kootenay Local Agricultural Society. Ann's talk dealt with the topic of genetically engineered food, and she sought to demonstrate the "spectacular failures" of these technologies, which are now pervasive throughout the North American food supply.

Topics Covered:

  • The May 14, 2009 joint statement from wheat producers supporting commercialization of GM wheat
  • The questionable groups communicating to Canadian wheat farmers
  • The formalization of Dow's NAFTA challenge against the Canadian Government
  • Challenging the genetically engineered promises of "higher yields", "reduced biocide use", "feeding the world", "saving the soil", "farmers would make more money"
  • Misleading promises of Bt Corn
  • Seemingly manipulated research findings on consumer preferences of GM vs. conventional corn
  • The disinformation communicated by Canada's largest agricultural publication, The Western Producer


Dr. E. Ann Clark, Associate Professor, Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph (Guelph, ON) - Ann received a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and a Masters of Science in Agronomy both from the University of California at Davis. Ann later went on to earn a Ph.D. in Crop Production and Physiology from Iowa State University. Her specific research interests are in organic and pasture production systems, and in risk assessment in genetically modified crops. She has authored 14 books or book chapters, 25 refereed journal publications, given 51 presentations at conferences and symposia, and 150 extension and technical papers or presentations. She currently teaches or team teaches 7 undergraduate courses, and together with Paul Voroney in Land Resource Science, coordinates the Major in Organic Agriculture at Guelph.


Direct download: DD051409.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:07am EST

Deconstructing Dinner at the Dairy Farmers of Canada / Rally for Farms, Farmers & Food Security

Deconstructing Dinner at the Dairy Farmers of Canada
On February 5, 2009, Deconstructing Dinner's Jon Steinman addressed the Dairy Farmers of Canada at their annual policy conference in Ottawa. The Dairy Farmers of Canada is the national policy, lobbying and promotional organization representing Canada's 14,600 dairy farms. According to the organization, they strive to create favourable conditions for the Canadian dairy industry, today and in the future. They work to maintain policies that foster the viability of Canadian dairy producers and promote dairy products and their health benefits. The organization is run for producers, by producers and has existed since 1934.

To help speak to the organization's interest to prepare for the future, Jon's talk focused on the rapidly changing perspectives of food and farming among Canada's urban populations. The talk was not void of the critical approach that Deconstructing Dinner uses when covering the many issues addressed on the show and used as a foundation for the talk was a magazine-style publication titled the Real Dirt on Farming - a tool designed to communicate agricultural education to Canada's urban populations. While Jon commended the effort put into the publication, there was much to be found within deserving of a critical eye.

Rally for Farms, Farmers & Food Security
On April 18, the Farms, Farmers & Food Security rally was held in front of the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria. The intention of the rally was to raise awareness of the many underreported concerns around food and agriculture leading up to British Columbia's May 12 provincial election. Members of the three major political parties were invited, and The Green Party and NDP were both in attendance. The BC Liberals were not. Event co-organizer Jordan Marr ensured the rally was recorded for Deconstructing Dinner listeners.


Tom Henry, Editor, Small Farm Canada (Metchosin, BC) - Small Farm Canada is a national magazine promoting small-scale farming as a legitimate and viable endeavour. The magazine's editorial position is that the lives of small-scale farmers and their families are worthy, complex and rich in possibility, and that the communities serving small-scale farmers are unique and dynamic. Tom farms on Vancouver Island.


Jordan Marr - Farmer (Sooke, BC) - 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. Jordan now farms in East Sooke.

Brent Warner - , White Loaf Ridge Management (Saanich, BC) - White Loaf Ridge Management Company (WLR) is an independent contractor that was born out of interest on the part of owner Charlie Touchette, to satisfy the agricultural industry with educational and business development opportunities in order to nurture the livelihood of families who operate farms. Brent spent 20+ years working for British Columbia's Ministry of Agriculture & Lands and serves as the interim Executive Director of Farmers' Markets Canada.

Linda Geggie - Food Policy, LifeCycles Project Society (Victoria, BC) - LifeCycles is a nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating awareness and initiating action around food, health, and urban sustainability in the Greater Victoria community. We work proactively to promote and create personal, shared and community gardens, research, and educational activities and youth skills development programs.


Direct download: DD050709.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:32am EST

A Primer on Pesticide Propaganda II

Since the recent streak of municipal pesticide bans were put into place across Canada, the pesticide industry has been on the defence. Represented by trade association CropLife Canada, the public relations strategies used by the industry were front and centre at the association's September 2007 conference in Saskatoon, which Deconstructing Dinner host Jon Steinman attended.

But how is the media presenting those messages?

In this multi-part series, Deconstructing Dinner explores the messages coming from industry and Canada's regulatory bodies; it examines research on the pesticide and cancer connections; it digs deep into the care that agricultural migrant workers receive when working within our borders; and it challenges one of the most frequently used arguments -- "Without pesticides, the world would go hungry!"

Part II
Part II was sparked in light of CropLife Canada becoming engaged in an aggressive and defensive campaign since the Province of Ontario announced in April 2008 that they would legislate a province-wide ban on the non-essential use of 250 pesticides. That ban came into place on April 22 of this year and other provinces who have not already banned non-essential pesticides are thinking of doing the same. One of those provinces being pressured to enact such a ban is British Columbia where the Canadian Cancer Society is putting pressure on the province to do so. The issue has become somewhat of an election one in light of the upcoming May 12th provincial election and is likely what sparked CropLife to hold a meeting with other pesticide industry supporters on April 23 in the City of Richmond.

This episode explores the latest messages from CropLife including an exclusive unheard interview between Host Jon Steinman and CropLife's Lorne Hepworth - recorded in September 2007 at CropLife's annual conference. Richard Wiles (Environmental Working Group) and M. Jahi Chappell (Cornell University) were invited to respond to questionable remarks made by Hepworth during that interview.


Lorne Hepworth, President, CropLife Canada (Toronto, ON) - Lorne Hepworth has been President of CropLife Canada (formerly Crop Protection Institute of Canada) since 1997, having previously (1992-93) served as Vice President. CropLife Canada is the trade association representing the manufacturers, developers and distributors of plant science innovations - pest control products and plant biotechnology - for use in agriculture, urban and public health settings. Member companies include Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, DuPont and Syngenta among others.

Richard Wiles, Executive Director, Environmental Working Group (Washington, D.C.) - Richard Wiles co-founded EWG with Ken Cook in 1993 and now supervises all staff. He is a former senior staff officer at the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Agriculture, where he directed scientific studies, including two that resulted in landmark reports: Regulating Pesticides in Food: The Delaney Paradox and Alternative Agriculture. Wiles is a leading expert in environmental risks to children, and under his direction, EWG has become one of the most respected environmental research organizations in the United States. EWG's exposure and risk assessment methods are recognized as state of the art, and have been used by the EPA and the National Research Council. Wiles holds a BA from Colgate University and an MA from California State University at Sacramento.

M. Jahi Chappell, Postdoctoral Associate, Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) - Jahi is the co-author of "Organic Agriculture and the Global Food Supply" published in June 2007 in the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. The University of Michigan study has received widespread attention. When the paper was being researched, Jahi was a PhD student in ecology, specializing in the intersection of conservation and food issues. His interest lay in analyzing how conservation policy could effectively be advanced to prevent the rapid loss of biodiversity, which Jahi indicates is, today, similar to the extinction rate that wiped out the dinosaurs. Jahi is now engaged in postdoctoral studies at Cornell University.

Other Voices

Samuel Epstein - Professor Emeritus, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois School of Public Health (Chicago, IL)

Arzeena Hamir - Coordinator, Richmond Food Security Society (Richmond, BC)

Ben West - Healthy Communities Campaigner, Western Canada Wildnerness Committee (Vancouver, BC)

Harold Steves - City Councillor, City of Richmond (Richmond, BC)

Robert Wright - Field Development Manager - Eastern Canada, Syngenta Crop Protection Canada (Guelph, ON)

Marian Stypa - Regulatory and Biological Development, Syngenta Crop Protection Canada (Guelph, ON)


Direct download: DD043009.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:56am EST