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.

But the spice trade doesn’t just aim to challenge your taste buds and make you healthier with curcumin, it turns out the world’s most global trade also wants to open your mind. Under the theme “disrupt or be disrupted,” they looked at everything from new delivery technologies to the ways to provide better incomes to small farmers. It was suggested farmer incomes should go up at the same percentage as the value of product, and who couldn’t agree? Just think about smallholders picking chilis by hand. They contemplated ways to address consumer trends that seek “local” food but want exotic tastes. It’s especially challenging when you consider a clove tree won’t just grow anywhere.

These competing forces are even more complex when you layer on a tone of trade protectionism and disruption. International cuisine is part of any millennial’s day. They would consider hummus, or a curry, just as much a part of life as a hamburger. However, to meet those tastes, spices will need to move around the globe just as much as they ever have – probably more. To do that, they need trading systems that work.

At the core of that is Codex Alimentarius, a global system to set food safety standards. At its heart, Codex should provide global science that makes it possible to trade among 188 countries with assurances of known, agreed food safety levels for consumers. Without this, trade devolves into a chaos of 188 nations with no known or consistent standards. Suddenly a cardamom farmer in India is supposed to be able to meet countless combinations of standards. 

This is particularly challenging for small crops like spices. What resources do exist in Codex get focused on big crops like rice and corn. That is why we need better budgets for Codex - particularly so the vital technical committees can work more efficiently. 

Certainly my food wouldn’t be the same without ginger or oregano or pepper. So mobilizing new, regularized funding of Codex, supporting a catch up plan for the backlog of science reviews and getting serious about using electronic systems to share data reviews are just a few steps to make the system better.

All of it underpins the access for some of the world’s smallest and most exotic farmers to markets. Plus, for me as a consumer, while that local apple will be a great purchase, its even better with a little cinnamon on it.

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.

 

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.

References:

 

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. 

Since this will be one of my last contribution to this blog this year, allow me to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Feliz Navidad!

 

Feast on Pulses January 18

The upcoming holidays may make you think about New Year’s indulgences and so what a great way to start the New Year off right to feast on Pulses too in 2017. Chickpeas, beans, lentils, and peas are great food. My favorite recipe is the Punjabi Dal Makhani.

They are so good for people and for the planet that they have their own special day, Global Pulse Day, to be celebrated all around the world on January 18th! That’s because pulses have a low use of water and a small carbon footprint.

Pulses are core to the food baskets of people in most places around the world. And of course, we keep finding out that traditional foods are good foods. Some are even dubbing pulses a “super food”. They are low in fat, contain important minerals and vitamins, are great for your health and help in weight management.

So whether your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight or lower your carbon footprint, you should be eating more pulses every week, and certainly on January 18th, 2017 for Global Pulse Day, to continue to celebrate pulses and build on the momentum of the United Nations International Year of Pulses.

Last year, Pulse Feast was celebrated at 141 events in 36 countries reaching 21 million people! From all around the world, people were mobilised to make this event a day to remember.

So this year, I encourage people around the world to eat their favorite beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas that day and share the many benefits of consuming pulses for people and the planet. You can organise a family meal with pulses on the menu or share your favourite pulse dishes at a corporate party. You can invite friends for dinner or promote the benefits of eating pulses at school. If you love pulses, it’s the right time to tell the world! If you are looking for recipes, there are hundreds of them available on pulses.org.

Anybody can participate in any corner of the globe and can share their Global Pulse Day with the rest of the world either by posting information about your event on social media and using the hashtag #GlobalPulseDay #LovePulses or registering the event on the Global Pulse Day webpage.

All the events will be highlighted on pulses.org website with a 48 hours’ coverage on January 18th to cover all the world’s time zones. There is no limitation on number of people (from 2 to 20,000) to be attending your event.

  • Join our Thunderclap so your social media will automatically support the campaign on January 18
  • Use the Twitter hashtags #GlobalPulseDay #LovePulses to be sure to be recorded as part of our TINT feed (a social media aggregator)
  • Capture images of your event: any visual material that can be shared in social media will be of great use. Take pictures!
  • Talk about your event: you can write a blog post before and after the event talking about why you are involved in celebrating pulses in 2017.

Please visit the Global Pulse Day webpage to learn more. You too can be a part of this exciting celebration when you join the Global Pulse Day movement on January 18th 2017!

Feast away!

High Level Dinner Highlights

You know what they say about first impressions …well I was certainly impressed! This was my first CFS and High Level Dinner and I found both to be amazing experiences. 

The 2016 edition of the High Level Dinner held on October 18th at the Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria saw 190 attendees from businesses, governments, NGOs, and academia gather to discuss, debate and collaborate on what “Delivering the SDGs through Innovation” means. 

The interactive format of the event allowed many ideas, thoughts and perspectives to be shared amongst the group. Some of the main conclusions were in order to achieve the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals innovation is a cornerstone and it is imperative that significant investments are made in technologies and infrastructure. These investments can then foster the sharing of knowledge empowerment and innovation advancements globally. Click the following link to view the full High Level Dinner report

On a personal note I would like to say it was both personally and professionally rewarding to be responsible for the coordination of this year’s High Level Dinner. I was able to add several new learnings to my event planning knowledge, met some truly wonderful people and had a great time in the process.

On behalf of the whole IAFN team I would like to extend a big thank you to everybody that made the evening so special. 

Plans are already underway for next year’s High Level Dinner and we hope to see you all there! 

Please visit the IAFN website for more information on CFS 44 and all of the other events happening throughout the year.

Ciao!

 

Celebrate Global Pulse Day – January 18, 2017

On January 18, 2017, the world will celebrate pulses…again! Formerly known as Pulse Feast, Global Pulse Day will be celebrated every year to promote the nutritional and environmental benefits of pulses. 

Celebrate with us by joining our Thunderclap to promote the benefits of pulses for people and the planet on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. Sign up here: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/50361-global-pulse-day?locale=en 

Eat pulses that day and tell the world about it! You can register your lunch, dinner, party with pulses with us so they are part of the celebrations on January 18! Events will take place globally and be shared through social media. Learn more, and register your event here: http://pulses.org/global-pulse-day  

Last year we saw over 140 events world-wide celebrating pulses. In 36 countries, events ranged from a university meal in Chennai joined with a lecture on pulses, and children in Malawi were fed protein supplements made with pulses. A skating party with a Dutch Olympic medal winner in Amsterdam, as well as a roundtable discussion with IFPRI in New Delhi at the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS). As they were chiming in the International Year at the Gate Restaurant in London, those across the Atlantic geared up for new dishes in Brazil, Three Kings celebrations in Mexico City, lunch for one hundred in Pullman, and an event in Toronto that had pulses trending on twitter.

We are so excited about this year’s social media event, that we have developed a series of downloadable resources for your use. These include:

  • Multiple Twitter promotional photos
  • Advertisements
  • Blog template
  • Flyers translated in English, Arabic, Spanish, French, Turkish, and Portuguese
  • Social Media Plan

Download these items here

For more updates on #GlobalPulseDay, and for inspiration on different pulse dishes to serve at your event, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Show the world that we #LovePulses on January 18! 

Happy Global Pulse Day

 

Trade Mission to Mexico: You oat-ta love this!

I did not ask to be Mexican, I was just lucky to be born in this beautiful country. My luck doubled when I joined Emerging, which allowed me to be part of many interesting projects, including one to promote oats in Mexico with the Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA). I like food in general, but I love oats more. 

Since 2013 we have been helping POGA with a campaign to promote this cereal in Mexico and to better understand the market opportunities for Canadian oat producers in Mexico. This past November we took a small delegation for a Trade Mission to Mexico City and Guadalajara to meet with relevant players in the country, as well as to host 2 media events and be part of the World’s Diabetes Day awareness event in Mexico City. 

Attended by 2,000 Mexicans, on November 13th the Mexican Diabetes Federation and the Mexican Ministry of Health organised a public event in Mexico City to raise awareness on this disease that is affecting more than 6 million people and is one of the main causes of death in the country. That was a sunny Sunday when Mexicans did many fun activities such as dancing Zumba and watching Lucha Libre wrestlers (if you want to see these funny developments visit this link). Since oats are a suitable food for people living with diabetes, POGA was granted with a booth to distribute recipe cards and fact sheets to promote oats and their nutritional properties. POGA partnered with the largest oat company in the world, Grupo Vida, who contributed with free oats samples to hand out during the event. 

Another highlight of this mission was the 2 tasting events that we hosted for the media in Mexico, where the chefs prepared a menu with Mexican recipes using oats in each and one of them! Together, the events attracted 60 attendees including 19 media reporters and bloggers. The program of the night included remarks by the representatives of the  Embassy of Canada and the Mexican Diabetes Federation. 

We will continue to work with POGA this 2017 with more fun projects, and I only have to say that if you are not eating enough oats, you oat-ta start now!

 

How to hold a Global Pulse Day Event on January 18th, 2017 #GlobalPulseDay #LovePulses

Register your event: http://pulses.org/register-global-pulse-day 

If you love beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas, January 18, 2017 is going to become your favorite cooking day. It will be the second ever Global Pulse Day, a global event to celebrate pulses and continue the momentum of the 2016 International Year of Pulses. Encourage people around the world to eat pulses on January 18th. Raise awareness on the multiple benefits of consuming pulses for people and the planet. 

The first Global Pulse Day took place on January 6, 2016 as “Pulse Feast”, with 141 events spanning 36 countries, reaching 21 million people. 

Any event can qualify as a Global Pulse Day event from a family meal with pulses on the menu to a corporate party to a seminar on pulses. Anybody can participate in any corner of the globe and can share their Global Pulse Day with the rest of the world by linking to LovePulses either by posting information about your event on social media and using the hashtag #GlobalPulseDay or emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. There will be some coverage over 48 hours of January 18 covering the world’s time zones. There is no limitation on number of people (from 2 to 20,000) to be attending your event. 

What kind of event can Global Pulse Day be?

  • A featured day of serving pulses at your facility or with your family
  • Corporate lunch with employees and partners
  • Seminar/Symposium/Lecture
  • A dinner with friends
  • A meal at a restaurant
  • Donations to a local food bank of pulses
  • A song (or other artistic creation) in honor of pulses or your favorite pulse-based meal (many were recorded on Global Pulse Day 2016)

Where can a Global Pulse Day take place?

A Global Pulse Day can take place anywhere. Here are a few examples of locations: 

  • Restaurant
  • Company facility
  • Someone’s home
  • Event venue
  • School or University
  • Public area

What are the requirements to be part of Global Pulse Day?

Global Pulse Day can take the shape of any event organized by anyone in the world as long as it follows the following 4 requirements:

  1. Pulses have to be on the menu or be featured in your event/creation (any type of pulse, any type of meal, any type of cuisine, any type of catering)
  2. Make references to Global Pulse Day using the hashtags #GlobalPulseDay, #LovePulses
  3. Be registered with us (please visit http://pulses.org/global-pulse-day or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) 
  4. Share information about the event/happening/creation with LovePulses campaign: livestream video, recorded film, photos by using #GlobalPulseDay in your posts or emailing us directly with the material. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How can I share my Global Pulse Day with the rest of the world?

  • Use the Twitter hashtags #GlobalPulseDay #LovePulses to be sure to be recorded as part of our TINT feed (a social media aggregator)
  • Capturing images of my event: any visual material that can be shared in social media will be of great use. Take pictures!
  • Talking about my event: you can write a blog post before and after the event talking about why you are involved in celebrating pulses in 2017. 
  • Recording parts of my event: any type of video content (edited and non-edited) showing what your event looks like can be sent to us to be uploaded on social media platforms to be shared with us (#LovePulses @lovepulses is on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and pulses.org)

Please visit http://pulses.org/global-pulse-day to review the guidelines and email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.if you have any questions. We can help promote your pulse-related activities. 

Happy Global Pulse Day!

 

CFS43: PSM Side-events work to achieve World Food Security, and the SDGs

The 43rd plenary session of the UN Committee of World Food Security took place October 17 to 21, 2016 to discuss the issues and solutions on global food security and nutrition. This year’s session saw 56 side-events. The Private Sector Mechanism hosted 4 and a book launch, all discussing various issues and topics to advance the private sector’s engagement in reducing food insecurity, and achieving the sustainable development goals. These side-events included: 

Continue reading