emerging blog

Global Dialogue Series: Eliminating Food Loss and Waste (FLW)

One-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, and it costs around $940 billion dollars each year to the global economy. Food Loss and Waste happens through the entire value chain, but it is greater nearer “the fork” in the developed regions and nearer “the farm” in developing regions. Moreover, FLW contributes around 8% of the global GHG emission which in the context of scale, would be the third largest contributor of GHG behind China and USA. 

I recently participated in the Global Dialogue Series on Food Loss and Waste hosted by the UN Global Compact. The series are online discussions, informing the development of short briefs designed to support business engagement in support of food security, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture in the context of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 –Reduce per capita global Food Waste and Loss by 50% by 2030.  

The invited panel for the series on FLW were stakeholders from the UN Global Compact, the Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO), and the World Resource Institute (WRI). The private sector was engaged as well with participation from Tesco, Campbell, and Danone who are leading the charge on FLW through concrete strategies and actions. 

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Time for Action on Food Waste

After spending the last 10 years meeting the needs of consumers and clients in the Food Service industry, my first visit to the United Nations at their headquarters in New York to participate in Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) conversation on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was stimulating and inspiring.

We are facing some of the most important decisions related to our collective future on one of the most rudimentary pillars of our society, food & and its security.  The fight to achieve food security, malnutrition and end hunger is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today and in the coming years. Globally, close to one billion people are undernourished and a further billion are overweight or obese.

Rising populations, diminishing resources and deteriorating environments only raise the stakes. In a world where one third of the food we produce is thrown away, we cannot help but ask ourselves the question: Could food wastage and hunger be an expression of the same problem?

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Let's be BOLD on International Women's Day

Today we are celebrating International Women Day #IWD2017. This year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange! Being bold is indeed what women need to do to take their destiny in their own hands. 

Change will not happen organically and it will not happen in our lifetime if all of us women don’t question every day the status-quo.

WE have to be bold to refuse the archaic roles assigned to women in the family and in the professional life.

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The Business Coalition for UNEA

The United Nations Environment (UNE), formerly known as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has stated its mission as "…to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations."

In pursuit of the fulfilment of this mission, which is inextricably linked to Agenda 2030, the engagement of business is crucial and critical.  The private sector in all its forms – farms, small and medium enterprises, family-owned companies, national firms, and multinationals - can make a major contribution to the implementation of all SDGs and to the realization of Agenda 2030.

The private sector in all its forms – farms, small and medium enterprises, family-owned companies, national firms, and multinationals - can make a major contribution to UN Environment’s mission and foster environmental stewardship around the world.  

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Feed the Truth

Depending on where you were born, when you think about famous Mexican figures different names might come to mind: El Chapulin Colorado, El Santo, Benito Juárez, Emiliano Zapata or Frida Kahlo. You might know some of them, but you may not have heard of Daniel Lubetzky. The son of a Holocaust survivor, Daniel is a Mexican-American entrepreneur, author,activist, founder and CEO of KIND Healthy Snacks (KIND). 

On February 15th, Daniel Lubetzky announced the launch of Feed the Truth. Established as an independent organisation, Feed the Truth will seek to improve public health by revealing and counteracting the food industry’s undue influence in shaping nutrition policy and ability to disseminate biased science, in addition to other activities that are detrimental to public health. “We’re eager for Feed the Truth to step in and hold all of us in the food community accountable for what we say and claim,” said Lubetzky.

To ensure Feed the Truth’s independence from KIND, Lubetzky will remove himself entirely from all activities and governance of the new organisation. Feed the Truth’s independent Board of Directors, once established, will seek to ensure consumers have access to unbiased nutrition information.

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Happy Agriculture Day Canada!

Think about what you did today, yesterday or even last week. Did you order a burger at lunch? Pour milk in your morning coffee? Walk past a tree? Whether you thought about it or realized it at all, agriculture touches us daily. It is all encompassing and includes everything from the raising of livestock, the growing of crops, to the maintaining of the soil.

The cultivation of land for food dates back, in our recorded history, to the 15th century when Samuel de Champlain, the “Father of New France,” came to Canada and first noted that the Huron and Iroquois nations were cultivating the land and growing foods such as corn, potatoes and squash1. As the east was developed, settlers were able to move west and soon indications of small scale farms were evident, with the first coming up near Lake Athabasca, Saskatchewan in 1778. Since then, the growth of agriculture across the country has been immense.

Today, according to statistics produced by the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food System, it is estimated that 2.2 million Canadians have jobs that fall under the umbrella of agriculture, that’s every 1 in 8 jobs! Now, this doesn’t mean that these individuals are out in the field everyday. It could mean anything from animal nutritionist, researcher, or land agent to seed sales. The agriculture sector of Canada contributes approximately $100 billion to our annual GDP, that’s more than some countries overall GDP2.

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Trading is the Spice of Life

The Spice Islands. Malabar. These names evoke historical ties to distant lands, exotic tastes, and thrilling adventures. The spice trade was the foundation of globalism and multiculturalism before we talked about such things.

These traders have always been ethnically diverse, creative and co-operative to ensure the spices are shared around the world. So it was a great thrill for me to join them at the International Spice Conference in Kerala, India. Kerala is one of the biggest spice producing regions, and I will note the food is every bit as wonderful as one might imagine from a land where turmeric, cumin and curry leaves are common.

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International Spice Conference

Spices have driven exploration, trade, and globalism for millennia.  So it is a great honour to go to Kerala India to speak at the International Spice Conference. I’ll be addressing a pressing issue for global movement of food:  the need for Codex reform. 

Facilitated by Geemon Korah, my fellow panelists are Ramesh Bhat, a food safety expert, and Milan Shah, a leading spice trader and member of Gafta. Together we hope to explain some of the realities of getting timely and proper MRLs in place and to talk about the Codex Reform coalition which has been formed to urge the changes that are needed in Codex functioning.  In particular, significant back logs and lack of groupings for smaller crops, as well as ongoing resource issues have slowed the system and impeded trade.  Without a globally harmonised system, the beautiful spices that make our meals a joy and provide valuable health benefits, will find movement of products difficult.

 Learn more here.

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Keeping Agriculture in the Climate Change Discussion

As I look back on 2016, it seems fair to state it was a tumultuous year. We saw Brexit, Trump, Duterte, economic slowdown in China, global unrest, and so much more. Alberta (my home province) was no exception. In 2015, the 40 year reign of our conservative party ended and was replaced with the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Alberta. It wasn’t really until 2016 that we saw the NDP government begin to develop and implement their new policy and legislation. This, combined with a new liberal federal government in Canada has led to an unprecedented political landscape in Alberta. Recently, our new government has implemented a carbon levy. For context, Alberta is known in Canada as oil country, this industry accounting for almost 20% of Alberta’s GDP1. And as such, we have higher greenhouse gas emissions than the average province, the highest to be exact2. As of Monday this week, a carbon levy is now being charged on all fuels that emit greenhouse gas emissions when combusted at a rate of $20/tonne in 2017 and $30/tonne in 20183. The rate is based on the amount of carbon pollution released by the fuel when it's combusted, not on the mass of fuel itself. It is important to note that the Canadian federal government is implementing a minimum nationwide price starting at $10 per tonne in 2018 and increasing to $50 per tonne by 2022. So this carbon levy would impact Alberta whether or not the NDP government implemented it, albeit at a less aggressive rate.

While much of the focus of this new bill has been on how it will impact our primary industry, oil and gas, it also impacts numerous other sectors, in particular, agriculture. The agriculture industry represents 8% of GHG emissions in Alberta4. This is a substantial portion that should be mitigated, but done so in a way that does not crush this important and very present industry, particularly with food security becoming a greater issue globally. An example of how important agriculture is in Alberta is Alberta beef. Alberta is known as the heart of the Canadian beef and cattle industry. Currently, 40% of all cows in Canada reside in Alberta, 70% of the feedlot capacity resides in Alberta and it contains 70% of the processing capacity in Canada5. About half of provincial agricultural emissions are primarily from the cattle sector and the other half from the cropping sector. This means both livestock and crops are going to be heavily impacted by this new levy. Understanding that this new levy would significantly influence many of our farmers, the provincial government has exempted farm fuel from the carbon levy, but, other costs such as fertilizer, crop protection products, etc., will still be subject to it. For businesses like Agrium, a company that develops, produces, markets and sells agricultural products and related chemical products, and is the third largest employer in Alberta, this represents a significant cost6. Additionally, some primary producers have shown concern that they will not be able to pass down the cost and will have to absorb it into their already tight margins. It is important to note that GHG emissions are a present issue in Alberta that must be addressed, but doing so in a way that continues to encourage economic development and protects some form of industry is important. This is why it is imperative to have continued engagement with the agriculture industry by the government going forward. It is too soon to tell the full impact the new levy will have on our farmers but I hope that with continued interaction between government and farmers we will be able to reduce our environmental footprint while promoting new and innovative ideas that will maintain this vital industry.

Our current situation in Alberta is a microcosm for trends we are seeing globally.  At COP21 in Paris, nearly 80 percent of the countries said they would use agricultural practices to curb climate change, and more than 90 percent said they would use those practices in addition to changes in forestry and land use linked to farming7. Agriculture backs many countries' economies and this sector is increasingly under threat from weather extremes, in particular drought and floods. In other words, as was the motto used by the FAO for World Food Day this year: “the climate is changing, food and agriculture must too”. Because farming practices can produce large amount of emissions, this industry has a significant yet unrealized potential to mitigate climate change. Whether this happens through farm practices, such as soil carbon sequestration through cover cropping, or by knowledge sharing between countries and within countries, agriculture needs to be a part of the climate change discussions. In our efforts to protect our environment, we want to ensure we are not crushing this important sector which is key to addressing food security issues, combating poverty, and ensuring good nutrition globally.

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Another Year Oat-ver…

Another year is about to end, and with that some interesting projects will end as well. You might already know that in November, Emerging ag assisted the Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA) in a Trade Mission to Mexico to help promote oats in the country. We could not be more pleased with the main outcomes of this mission:

  • 19 media attendants at 2 tasting events 
  • 2,000 oats samples distributed at World’s Diabetes Day event
  • 4 meetings with processors and importers
  • 1 Briefing on Mexican market
  • 7 mission participants from POGA

While we hibernate this holiday season, this is also a good time to think of new ways to continue promoting Canadian oats in Mexico. Maybe a cooking workshop with nutritionists? A recipe cookbook? We will also relaunch some of the activities that have proved success like a Recipe contest and new recipe photographs. 

If you wish to share a healthy oats recipe, send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Don’t forget to take a nice photo of your creation. 

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