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Misc
Saturday
Apr072012

FarmAid: How Alberta’s Farmers, Entrepreneurs and Innovators Can Help Feed the World, Alberta Venture magazine, April 2012

Alberta Venture magazine, April 2012 issue / Agriculture / Jennifer Cockrall-King

Project: Transform Alberta – How Alberta’s Farmers, Entrepreneurs and Innovators Can Help Feed the World

On October 31, 2011, the global population reached seven billion. It’s predicted to grow by another two billion by 2050. At this rate, we’ll have to grow and raise more food in the next 50 years than we’ve produced cumulatively over the past 10,000

 

In the chill of the spring dawn, an Alberta livestock farmer waits nervously for a pregnant cow to give birth. As soon pocket options demo as she does, the farmer swabs the inside of the newborn’s cheek. The sample is quickly shipped to a lab in Edmonton where the calf’s DNA is extracted and analyzed. Three weeks later, the farmer knows if the calf has won the genetic lottery. Does it have the genes to make it a great producer of milk? If it’s a beef breed, will it produce AAA steak years later? Plainly put, it doesn’t make sense to bring that calf to age if genetics aren’t on its side such that it can be healthy and productive and contribute to a profitable enterprise.

Screenshot from albertaventure.com / llustration Pierre-Paul Pariseau
 

Welcome to the brave new world of farming. Primary agriculture in Alberta is a $7.7-billion industry, with crops accounting for $3.7 billion of that number and livestock bringing in $3.5 billion. But while our role as a volume producer of raw exports may be significant, our greatest contributions to helping solve global hunger could yet be ahead. Perhaps our role in the global food economy will be one of innovation and contributions to technological leaps. This future will be one where soil is enriched with “biochar,” where farmers earn as much through their efforts to offset carbon dioxide emissions as they do from crops, and where every animal is scanned, analyzed and barcoded.

Read the full article on Alberta Venture magazine's website.

Friday
Nov182011

Arctic Cuisine, enRoute magazine, The Food Issue (November 2011)

I am a contributing panelist to enRoute magazine's Best New Restaurants issue, which appears every November. In this issue, I also have an article about what I consider Canada's last culinary frontier: Northern Foods. Yes, as in Canada's North. The Arctic.

Here is a link to the article.

The article, really is about a series of "Northern Night" dinners that have been going on is pocket options regulated in Edmonton thanks to two amazing foodies, Twyla Campbell and Steve Cooper, who travel in the North a lot. Their enthusiasm for the exotic ingredients they find in the Arctic is infectious and their Northern Night dinners are now the hottest tickets in the Slow Food Edmonton calendar.

By the way, Twyla is the CBC Radio One Edmonton restaurant critic, writer, blogger, food lover and wanderer. Her blog is http://weirdwildandwonderful.blogspot.com/.

 

Monday
Nov152010

Beyond the Buffet Line: Finding good food in Old Havana

 

Pastry Shop, Old Havana, May 2010.Hotel Ambos Mundos. Great rooftop patio restaurant, good food. Hemingway drank here

Currently in print in Western Living magazine, Nov 2010:

For all that Old Havana has to offer—UNESCO World Heritage Site architecture, music on every corner, mint-condition classic cars, surprising art galleries, nearby pristine Caribbean beaches—food has always been the unfortunate, forgotten footnote and the chief complaint of even adventurous travellers. But with a massive tourism shift from the resort areas into the pulsating capital of Havana, the dining scene has had no choice but to catch up. With a little inside info, the chances of finding a really good meal, especially in Old Havana, are steadily improving. (Click here to read the rest of my article online at www.westernlivingmagazine.com.

 

 

Sunday
Jul042010

The Farm Next Door: Why local food - really local- is back on Alberta's political menu

This article appears in the July / August issue of Alberta Views magazine. It was a lot to fit into a 2000+ word feature, as municipal food policies are being forged right now in both Edmonton and Calgary. It will determine how Alberta's two major cities feed themselves (or don't) for generations to come. Here's a teaser. You'll have to read the rest in a print issue of the magazine.

 “There are two types of power,” says Monique Nutter, co-chair of Greater Edmonton Alliance’s (GEA) local foods team. “There’s organized money—and there’s organized people.” Nutter, a soft-spoken social worker and mother, is explaining how GEA, a grassroots organization barely five years old, managed to mobilize over 550 citizens on a bitterly cold November evening in 2008 to attend a public hearing for Edmonton’s 30-year Municipal Development Plan (MDP), “The Way We Grow.” The mass descent on city hall was a polite protest of a gaping hole in the plan—a lack of an explicit food policy.

The problem, as we saw it—I was one of the 550 citizens—was that the MDP addressed housing and transportation to cope with Greater Edmonton’s population growth (expected to reach 1.7 million people by 2040) but not something equally fundamental: food. Just as few expect that Edmontonians will live and drive in similarly unsustainable ways in 30 years as we do today, few expect that 30 years from now almost all of our food will come from far afield as well.

And yet the MDP made not one mention of protection for the city’s precious 3,200 hectares of urban farmland in the northeast, class 1 soil that lies along the bends and twists of the North Saskatchewan river, a microclimate that offers the most frost-free growing days of anywhere in the province. Good farmland is a dwindling resource in and around Edmonton (as it is across Alberta). Already, 90 per cent of residents’ food is imported from outside the Greater Edmonton region. Neither did the MDP mention any municipal food policy whatsoever. To us, it looked like a blueprint for a massive home renovation that curiously did away with the kitchen.

(...)

Thursday
May272010

An Urban Ag Book Review Round-up in Canadian Geographic

In the June 2010 of Canadian Geographic magazine, I review four new books on farming and urban agriculture in Canada. It begins like this:


Every generation, it seems, experiences its own back-tothe- land movement. But what happens when “the land” becomes too expensive? The regulations too crippling? The traditional knowledge too far gone? And how exactly can we return to the land when more than 80 percent of Canadians live in an urban environment? Judging from the number of books emerging on these themes — from laments for the vanishing family farm and scathing condemnations of industrial agriculture to handbooks on how to grow heirloom veggies on condo balconies — concerns about our relationship with food have become mainstream obsessions....Read the complete review on-line here.  

 

TRAUMA FARM
A Rebel History of Rural Life

By Brian Brett
Greystone Books
373 pp., $35 hardcover
THE WAR IN THE COUNTRY
How the Fight to Save Rural Life Will Shape Our Future

By Thomas F. Pawlick
Greystone Books
344 pp., $24.95 softcover
CITY FARMER
Adventures in Urban Food Growing

By Lorraine Johnson
Greystone Books
256 pp., $19.95 softcover
THE EDIBLE CITY
Toronto’s Food From Farm to Fork

Edited by Christina Palassio and Alana Wilcox
Coach House Books
312 pp., $24.95 softcover