In each edition of Wood Design & Building, BioLAB Business and Spa Inc. magazines, my editorial column would speak to the issue theme and current events. Depending on space, I sometimes included a short editorial in Canadian Food Business, too. Here are some samples (click on the cover to see the issue):
A Call to Action
From the Gold Award issue of BioLAB Business (Winter 2019–20)
Not to state the obvious, but food science is big business. Now that we’re facing rapidly growing populations in combination with natural disasters on unprecedented scales, the challenge is clear: How can we ensure food security, worldwide? No crop can survive wildfires, and few can endure extreme drought or flooding. Then again, by some reports we already produce more than enough food for the world – the problem is also waste.
This is a multilevel issue, whether waste is caused by a misunderstanding of “best before” dates or the result of a massive food recall – or simply, on an individual basis, often buying more than we need, which then spoils. At the consumer level, behaviour and demand impact the overall food supply; but more importantly, if we don’t solve some of the challenges in worldwide crop production, we may not have the luxury of buying bananas, coffee, chocolate and many other goods that are threatened by changing climatic conditions.
Food is a fundamental requirement for all living things, but wrapped into this conversation is another essential element: water. Without an adequate water supply, our crops and livestock wither. Understanding how to maintain and restore our freshwater supplies is as essential as figuring out how to keep the oceans producing seafood, and how to maintain healthy soil to support our farms.
In this issue, we focus on the scientists who are answering the call to action in the quest to feed the world – and in Canada, we’re making headway that impacts these efforts on an international level. The IISD Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario (featured on p.20) is one of the world’s largest living laboratories that studies water systems, and its work is advancing our understanding of the many impacts of climate change; for more than 50 years, the project has monitored a vast network of almost 60 lakes and their watersheds.
Crop resiliency is another complicated challenge that is being examined by many researchers throughout Canada, including our newsmaker Leon Kochian (winner of the 2019 Arrell Global Food Innovation Award, featured on p.18) and the UBC Farm (featured on p.12), which is run by the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems. Using artificial intelligence to optimize farming is an interesting area of research; its use in aquaculture and growing systems is also featured in this issue.
We may not have all of the solutions yet, but science is playing a crucial role in advancing our understanding and ability to adapt. As we face an uncertain future, BioLab Business will continue to cover the important developments, with a focus on the Canadian science community. This new decade is an exciting but daunting time – and we’ll tackle the issues head-on.
I also developed the outline and content, including infographics, for NRCan’s State of Mass Timber in Canada (SMTC) report, which is the first of its kind to document mass timber construction projects and production capacity in Canada.
I’ll be posting more, so come back soon!