Does it pass the smell test? In an effort to protect wheat from one of its most virulent pests, researchers are gauging the reactions of the tiny insect to the scent of thousands of varieties.
Most bakers will tell you the “starter culture” is the essence of sourdough bread. This includes Jay Cummings, director of bakery and deli operations for Freson Bros., an Alberta-based grocery market chain that sells locally produced food. “Before they hired me, they asked what I would do if I was to run their bakery program,” said Cummings. “I said I would go back to real baking—sourdough baking.” He has developed many starters, but said his one culture, dubbed “Charlie,” which he created for the grocer, is special.
When he and his wife Gabriele immigrated to Kaslo, B.C., from a small Bavarian town in the summer of 1979, Silvio Lettrari craved the sourdough bread he grew up eating. He began baking and selling his own loaves as a summer project in 1991. Locals raved and demand grew, so the couple launched Kaslo Sourdough in 1993 and marketed their bread across the West Kootenays.
Unpredictable weather and fall uncertainty in recent years have seen farmers harvest early and rely on grain dryers to handle crops with markedly high moisture levels. With this near-dependence on drying, they are constantly on the lookout for methods to improve their financial return.
Ten years after the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) single desk was dismantled, most farmers retain vivid memories of permit books, contract calls and initial, interim and final payments. Membership in the CWB for marketing of wheat and barley was made compulsory in 1943 via the War Measures Act and its authority remained in place until Aug. 1, 2012.
Over the past two years, University of Calgary plant breeder Marcus Samuel has demonstrated impressive drought-tolerant proof-of-concept improvements in wheat using an innovative, non-GMO breeding technique. The project has received $398,000 in funding from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, Results Driven Agricultural Research, the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions, SaskWheat and the Manitoba Crop Alliance. Samuel hopes to bring these same drought tolerance gains to elite wheat varieties nearing commercialization.
In a recent interview, Simon Sinek, author of The Infinite Game, discussed trust and how it can be a powerful tool when working as a team toward a shared goal. What stood out about his message when I considered my work as the leader of a farmer advocacy association is that it takes empathy and perspective to build trust. You cannot expect someone to trust you if you don’t understand their point of view.
Markets, trade and technical services are at the core of Cereals Canada operations. With the onset of COVID-19 in spring 2020, many of the organization’s activities, including international new crop missions, were conducted virtually. This past July, Cereals Canada returned to in-person operations.