Food choices are often personal

Originally published in the Western Producer, May 2022

We all know someone who is extremely vocal about their food choices, even to the point of it causing friction with others.

If not, you’ve never been on Twitter.

Sustainable, organic, vegan: terms like these are increasingly morphing into exclusive tribes and dirty words rather than simple descriptive nouns.

This is a problem, especially at a time when Canadians are reporting more societal division than ever before.

As members of the agri-food industry, it will be increasingly important for our industry to take a curious approach to market demand rather than a combative one. The first step is understanding how and why people behave the way they do in relation to their food choices.

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What new parents should know about chemicals and toxins

Originally published by Today’s Parent, May 2022

Recently my husband and I bribed our three-year-old to stay in her bed all night by letting her wear her Queen Elsa dress to sleep. She began wearing it every waking (and sleeping) moment. And even though my house is now covered in glittery sparkles, our tactic worked, and  I was so proud of my parenting hack.    

Until, that is, my mom suggested I should be mindful of the amount of time my kids spend in synthetic fabrics. (The dress is made of polyester, elastane and a whole lotta glitter.) Parenting high over. Thank you, Irene.

At first, I laughed off this kernel of less-than-helpful commentary from my mom, but then the old familiar questions and doubts started rolling around in my head again. In the last couple of months alone, I have read reports of toxic chemicals found in clothes from popular fast-fashion Amazon brands, heavy metals in pre-made baby foods, been warned by a health blogger to not use scented candles in my home, and wondered if I should switch to a “natural” brand of bubble bath because my two toddlers spend the majority of their bath time drinking soapy water. (The youngest is one.)

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VIDO Leader in Human and Animal Vaccine Research

In the last year, many Saskatchewanians learned something they previously didn’t know about our province – we are home to a world-leading research facility.

As the world mobilized to respond to COVID-19, our very own University of Saskatchewan (USask) Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) led newsworthy international efforts to develop a vaccine based on its multi-decade history of research and development in human and animal health sciences.

But what many people still don’t know about the Saskatoon-based organization is just how much of its history, capacity and output are tied to our local agriculture industry.

“The news has very much focused on COVID-19 and the pandemic,” says Dr. Andrew Van Kessel, VIDO’s Associate Director of Research. “That has taken attention away from the animal side of our program.”

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Building SaskLander

Sask tech startup tackles the issue of land access

Published in Farmer’s Voice, January 2021

Saskatchewan farmers are well aware of the longstanding conflict in our province between landowners and residents who want to access rural property for hunting, snowmobiling,
and other recreational activities.

In an effort to manage this conflict (and in response to growing rural crime rates), The Trespass to Property Act was introduced in 2018. It proposed penalties for anyone who sets foot on
private rural land without first obtaining permission from the landowner.

Although the Act has yet to be enforced as law, in 2019 the Saskatchewan government went a step further in aiming to address the issue – it called for help from our province’s burgeoning tech sector.

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Will all the under-socialized babies born in 2020 be OK?

You might have pictured a busy mat leave filled with baby swim classes and mommy-and-me yoga meetups. But COVID-19 has forced us to readjust our expectations indefinitely.

Published by Today’s Parent, November 2020

Earlier this year, my new baby girl finally got to meet her grandma for the first time. 

I handed her over to Omi, and grabbed my camera in order to capture this momentous occasion, which had been put off for months due to COVID-19 restrictions where we live in Regina, Sask.

But there would be no photo.

My daughter screamed and screamed—a horrified cry that seemed to say, “WHO IS THIS STRANGE WOMAN!”

This was new for me. 

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Many benefits to a diverse crop rotation

Originally published in The WheatField March 2017
As we head into a new growing season, many farmers in Saskatchewan are wondering how they can avoid having another year like the last.
And one of the most common pieces of advice is one we’ve heard before … and will again.
“The most important thing is diversity,” says Clark Brenzil, the Provincial Weed Control Specialist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. “Diversity of crops, and diversity of management of those crops.”

Measuring our IYP impact

Originally published in PulsePoint magazine March 2017

International Year of Pulses (IYP) has drawn to a close, and the big question on everyone’s minds is, how much of an impact did it have?
While some of the work is still wrapping up and some of the numbers are still trickling in, early results and indicators look great.
“I think the year has been success beyond all of our wildest imagination,” says Robynne
Anderson, whose company, Emerging Ag Inc., administered international activities
for IYP on behalf of the Global Pulse Confederation (GPC).

The newest in pulses

Originally published in Grainews, January 30, 2017

Pulse breeders at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre (CDC) are constantly working on developing new varieties with improved yield, disease and weed resistance and tolerance, and other desirable attributes. They are also constantly working on getting these new varieties tested and into the hands of Saskatchewan growers as soon as they are ready.

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