Tobacco plants may save lives

I get to learn about some pretty neat things in my life as someone who writes about food and farming. The following story, which was released by the Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre a few weeks ago, ranks high on my list of all-time favourites.

PlantForm Corporation, a University of Guelph spin-off company, is using tobacco plants to manufacture treatments used to combat critical illnesses like cancer using technology developed by university researchers. Continue reading Tobacco plants may save lives

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Bringing local farmers and food buyers together

Growing mesclun mix

As an unabashed advocate for local food and farming, I was thrilled to see that here in Guelph we have an officially recognized local food champion in our midst.

Leslie Carson, of St. Joseph’s Health Centre, was honoured in the 2011 Local Food Champions Report, part of a series of initiatives by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and the Greenbelt Fund to connect Ontario’s farmers and food producers with public institutions.

Schools, universities, hospitals, day-cares and other public sector facilities are large-scale buyers and consumers of food. This represents a significant market opportunity for Ontario farmers — but one that currently isn’t being filled to its potential. Continue reading Bringing local farmers and food buyers together

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Let’s take those new year’s resolutions seriously

We’re almost a month into the new year and some of us have already lost sight of the lofty exercise and weight loss goals we set for ourselves on Jan.1.

We all start the year with good intentions — overflowing parking lots at most gyms during the first few weeks of January will attest to that — but as the weeks wear on, many of us fall off the proverbial wagon and end up straying from those resolutions.

Overall, most of us think we’re in pretty decent shape. The numbers say otherwise, though. Continue reading Let’s take those new year’s resolutions seriously

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Solving the peanut-free school lunch problem

Over the last week or so of everyone’s back to school preparations, I’ve been noticing a lot of coverage about school lunches and the dilemna of what to send with your kids. I didn’t realize this was such a problem – I’ve been out of school myself for quite some time and don’t have any kids in the system, so I didn’t realize how complicated a task making a lunch could be.

The biggest problem seems to be nut allergies, specifically to peanuts. So many kids are allergic – in some cases deathly so – that many schools have banned all peanut products from their premises. This includes peanut butter, a great, low cost protein source that together with jelly has been an iconic staple of school lunches for generations of Canadians. Continue reading Solving the peanut-free school lunch problem

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Weighing in on wind energy

Wind farming is blowing up controversy in many parts of Ontario these days.

On the one hand, it is being promoted as a green alternative to traditional energy sources that we desperately need to lessen our dependence on less environmentally-friendly supplies we have been relying on to date. It is also credited with bringing good jobs to rural areas struggling with employment issues, keeping people in small communities and maintaining infrastructure. Continue reading Weighing in on wind energy

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