By Jane Robinson
Guelph – An estimated 2.5 million Canadians report an allergy to at least one food, according to Food Allergy Canada. Peanut allergies alone affect the lives of approximately two in every 100 Canadian children.
As the list of food allergens continues to grow, there is a genuine need for a quick and accurate allergen test whether you are scrutinizing every snack for your child, or conducting randomized testing on a food production line. Current allergen testing can take hours, when minutes can make all the difference.
A new technology developed at the University of Guelph successfully shaves valuable hours off accurate testing, and will soon be widely available in Canada.
Prof. Suresh Neethirajan has developed a new test that accurately pinpoints and quantifies the presence of food allergens. Designed to deliver results in a matter of minutes, the test can be used by consumers, restaurants and food manufacturers for on-site testing in a user-friendly format. Continue reading
The Great Indoors
By Matt McIntosh
Guelph – Are skyrocketing land prices preventing you from starting your own farm business? Don’t fret, because crops can be grown in old industrial buildings too – legal crops at that.
Vertical farming – a comparatively new agricultural system – offers some promise for producing crops in novel ways and novel places.
For Oliver Lauzon, a Guelph entrepreneur and past renewable energy professional, vertical farming also offers a chance to continue an environmentally-focused career.
Lauzon and his father, Paul, opened Molly’s Vertical Farming in June 2017. The business, which is named after Lauzon’s Great Dane and based out of a disused 4,000 square foot auto body shop, will produce hydroponically grown Boston and Romaine lettuce for both wholesale and direct local markets. Continue reading
By Jane Robinson
St Catharines – Joanne Van Liefland never pegged herself an entrepreneur. But that was before she brought some of her homemade, vegetable-based wraps to a meeting that caught the taste buds of a store owner.
That was 2012. Van Liefland had a full-time job in education, and was making the dehydrated, raw wraps for herself, family and friends to satisfy her craving for bread-like products after switching to a raw food diet.
The chance tasting led to her first order. Six months later, she launched Wrap It Up Raw.
Her food business manufactures organic, vegan wraps with no gluten, wheat or dairy in St. Catharines, Ontario, and sells them in 150 independent food stores in Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC.
“It’s been quite a surprise at how easily the business has grown,” says Van Liefland, a registered holistic nutritionist. “Customers have come to me, I didn’t even go looking.” Continue reading
Vineland developing flavourful new tomato based on consumer insights
By Lilian Schaer
Vineland – There’s a plant inside the greenhouse at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) that could change the tomato eating experience forever.
It is part of ongoing research by a Vineland team of plant breeders, biochemists and consumer specialists to discover a more flavourful greenhouse tomato.
It turns out that only about 60 per cent of consumers are satisfied with the flavour of one of the standard tomatoes grown by most commercial greenhouse growers – five tomatoes on a cluster attached to a section of vine.
Greenhouse tomatoes are big business in Canada – worth $544 million in 2016 according to Statistics Canada figures – with the majority of production in Ontario. So, the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers turned to Vineland, the only greenhouse vegetable breeding program in Canada, for help.
“Flavour is a complex trait – tomatoes are amazing chemical factories and that’s what determines their flavour,” explains Vineland biochemistry research scientist David Liscombe. “There is great range in their flavour and although a lot of that is determined by genetics, the environment impacts the chemistry as well.” Continue reading
By Matt McIntosh
London ON – Food waste is a big issue, but StormFisher Environmental, a London-area green energy company, is turning part of the problem into an environmental positive.
Using once-edible food from Ontario processors, grocery stores, and restaurants, the company produces organic-based fertilizer that can be used by landscapers to beautify lawns, and farmers to grow crops. Generating electricity from biogas – a key byproduct of producing the fertilizer – is also a key part of the business.
“Generating biogas and turning it into a renewable fuel is well-known technology, and there’s a real need here for the sustainable disposal of organic waste […] our design fits well” says Chris Guillon, vice-president of StormFisher Environmental.
Each year, the company converts about 80,000 tonnes of food waste into enough energy to power about 3,000 homes, and make 2,000 tonnes of organic-based fertilizer. Electricity is fed back into the provincial grid, while the fertilizer is all locally sold. Continue reading