GFM Network News


Traceability is about more than food safety — it’s a way to establish a new relationship with consumers, food expert Sylvain Charlebois told attendees at the recent Traceability Symposium.

New era of traceability needs to involve the consumer

A system created to deal with food safety issues should also be a ‘conduit’ connecting consumers and farmers

Reading Time: 3 minutes One of Canada’s best-known food experts says that while farmers and the ag sector are trying hard to connect with consumers, they’re not pulling it off. And they’ll need to do better because customer engagement is critical in the new “era of supply chain transparency,” Sylvain Charlebois told the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency’s inaugural Traceability […] Read more

We need to count our blessings — and take advantage of them

Our vast land base is a great advantage but often leaves us stuck in the commodity mindset

Reading Time: 3 minutes Summer is a great time for me because of the many international guests I am privileged to host. I was having a lovely lunch with a family from New Zealand when one of them asked, “What are the top two issues facing Canadian agriculture today?” It is not the first time I have been asked […] Read more


Farmer in wheat field

‘Three times a day, you need a farmer’ — a phrase that says a lot

It’s not just the food we produce — farming is 
much deeper and more meaningful than that


Reading Time: 3 minutes My grandfather used to say, “Once in your life you need a doctor, lawyer, policeman, or preacher but every day — three times a day — you need a farmer.” To some this may be a catchy phrase but to others it has a deeper meaning. We were working on a school project, Grandpa and […] Read more

Mike Olson (l), Ray Price (c), and Mike Von Massow (r).

Bridging the producer-consumer divide

There are pros, cons, and frustrations when trying to deal with consumers who want it all when it comes to food


Reading Time: 3 minutes Consumers are watching you like never before. But relax — you can only do so much. That was one key message from a recent panel discussion on how farmers can connect with consumers. The sudden fascination with how food is produced is a “profoundly good thing,” said Mike von Massow, an associate professor at the […] Read more


Consumers driving changes in the food sector

Consumers driving changes in the food sector

Transparency in food labelling and no GMOs are among the top consumer food trends

Reading Time: 2 minutes The relationship between consumers and their food is no longer ‘from field to fork,’ says the former VP of innovation for Loblaws. “It’s actually from fork to field,” said Paul Uys, who spoke at the Conference on Food Innovation in late May. “Consumers are increasingly driving the food supply chain. It’s all about connecting with […] Read more

man and woman in grocery store

Constant change is the only sure thing in the food business

The environment was once the big thing, but then came animal welfare, local, gluten free, additives, food safety and more

Reading Time: 4 minutes The ‘mobile global food table’ is a phrase I use to capture the constant shift in consumer trends and food demand. I picture it as a round table without edges that can be placed indoors or out. Sometimes there are chairs and sometimes there are chopsticks. Always there is change. I’ve taken notes over the […] Read more


a row of combines harvesting

The four fallacies of sustainable food production

Intensive, large-scale production employing the 
latest technology is key to feeding a hungry world

Reading Time: 4 minutes The view that we need to change how we produce food in the name of sustainability has become ubiquitous in Canada and other developed countries. Indeed, spurred on by the perceptions of some consumers, the food industry has become keenly interested in how farmers produce food. They want to know about their carbon footprint; animal […] Read more

dairy cattle

Expert says productivity has trumped welfare in breeding programs

New breeding techniques could improve welfare-related traits in animals, creating a win-win for livestock industry

Reading Time: 3 minutes Animal welfare shouldn’t take a back seat to productivity, says an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientist. “Health and welfare traits should take precedence over production traits,” said Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein at the recent Livestock Genomics in Alberta conference. “Successful livestock production will only be accomplished through welfare-conscious management.” But that hasn’t been the case in […] Read more


GMO tomato on a kitchen fork

Ethicist says consumers have a right to labelling of GM foods

Despite scientific consensus that genetically modified foods are safe, 
consumers are understandably concerned

Reading Time: 2 minutes Consumer concern about genetically modified food may not be science based, but it’s a natural reaction and farmers have to get used to it, says an agricultural ethicist. Andrew Kernohan pointed to an early (although never commercialized) example of GM food — a tomato modified with a flounder gene in order to give it increased […] Read more

Don’t get mad, give your critics something to think about

It’s easy to be offended by critics of modern farming, but there are ways to challenge their thinking and provide new perspectives

Reading Time: 3 minutes “Watch what you eat. Wherever possible, avoid food grown with pesticides, in feedlots, or by agribusiness. It’s an easy way to use your dollars to vote against the spread of toxins in our bodies, soil and water.” This is the fourth principle in the consumption manifesto issued by the World Watch Institute, an environmental research […] Read more