As Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan looks to expand our consumer engagement to other areas of Canada through our Canadian Food Focus initiative, we have decided to partner with different groups and organizations. Looking to other agriculture groups, dietitians, students and those in culinary arts have allowed us to speak with demographics that otherwise would have been difficult to be a part of.
In March, we had the privilege of partnering with Health Stand Nutrition Consulting in Calgary, AB for a farm tour. This farm tour involved visiting local grain, beef, dairy and vertical farms. As with all our tours, we highlighted how these farms are using modern technology and innovation to grow food. On the beef, dairy and grain farms this was evident with machines that use sensors and GPS to ensure the most optimal production is reached. Conversations with consumers are sometimes void of information about how farmers use new technologies and the regulatory oversight that exists.
Our conversations with attendees also covered the use of different pesticides (herbicides, fungicides or insecticides) that are available in the toolbox for commercial farmers to control specific pests that exist in large fields (weeds, disease or bugs). These products go through a rigorous testing procedure to determine the proper amounts that farmers use and farmers will only use when they are needed and they are checked periodically for minimal residue limits to ensure food safety. So, not only is the conversation about how food in the grocery store is safe, we have a regulatory process behind the food to ensure it is safe!
New for me on this tour was the cutting-edge technology of food production at a vertical farm in downtown Calgary. Agriplay which has a location right beside the Calgary Tower showcased the future of growing produce for consumers in urban centers. This system touted precision rainfall, pin-pointed plant nutrition and a lighting system that is specific to that plant, at that point of growth, and can be altered through a computer programmed system. Fascinating!
One of the best things about this tour too was that the guests were just as diverse as the farms we visited. Approximately 30 different professionals took part in the tour including dietitians, food writers, chefs, those who work in wellness and health care, as well as students. Tour hosts learned from the experience with the questions asked, while our guests came away with a stronger sense of understanding for primary agriculture. Our statistics show a higher level of knowledge in key agriculture tools like pesticides, GMOs, hormones, and antibiotics.
We’re already looking forward to the next partnership in the Calgary area!