Ontario town handed lemons, makes tomato juice

By Tim Alamenciak - Published on January 4, 2016
communion wafer
Some Ontario Catholic churches are offering low-gluten communion wafers for congregants with celiac disease.

Every week, TVO.org talks Food Chain — snack on these policy, nutrition and food safety nuggets from around the province and beyond.

Guelph churches offer low-gluten communion

Some Roman Catholic churches in Guelph are now providing low-gluten communion wafers as part of the church’s sacrament that involves eating one of the wafers during mass. Parishioners with celiac disease have long had to choose between foregoing communion – central to the Catholic faith – or exposing themselves to traditional wafers high in gluten, according to a story in the Guelph Mercury. About one per cent of the general public suffers from celiac disease, which means their bodies have a painful auto immune response to gluten.

How Canadian tomato juice law helped Leamington

The New York Times has a feature on the southwestern Ontario town of Leamington where the sale of the Heinz plant had residents scrambling months ago. The tomato town relied on the plant for jobs. During the course of the sale, many buyers were looking to demolish the plant and develop the land. But Sam Diab, who ran the factory, encouraged the new owners to land Heinz as a client. He had the law partly on his side – Canadian regulations mandate that tomato juice must be made from whole tomatoes rather than tomato paste. Tomato-heavy Leamington is well-situated to produce the juice. Though wages dropped and the plant took a staffing hit, it remains open today.

Windsor chef wins restaurant raffle

Shawn McKerness, executive chef of The City Grill in Windsor, won Toronto restaurant Das Gasthaus in a widely publicized raffle. The owner had hoped to sell 4,000 tickets at $150 each, though about 500 had been sold as of mid-December, according to the Toronto Star. The restaurant is valued at approximately $144,000. McKerness will also have to deal with eight outstanding labour complaints that the business is facing, according to the Star report.

Feeding fish with garbage algae

Algae nourished with methane may solve a long-standing problem in aquaculture – how to feed farmed fish. Calysta, a San Francisco-based company, has developed pressed algae tablets that can be used to feed fish, instead of using feeds derived from wild fish. “The problem with aquaculture is you have to feed fish other fish before we can eat them. That's not sustainable … we're basically tapping this planet dry,” Alan Shaw, Calysta's president and CEO, told CBC news. The company says methane generated by waste can be used to feed the algae.

Is 2016 the year of the pulses?

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has declared 2016 is the year of the pulses, and this could have good implications for Canadian agriculture. Exports of pulses like dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas are valued at more than $3 billion annually. Pulses are a good source of protein and more sustainable than meat. Sylvain Charlebois, professor at the University of Guelph’s Food Institute, and Ralph Martin, Loblaw chair in sustainable food production applauded the declaration in a Globe and Mail editorial last week. “Pulses could be the foundation of a new food era,” they wrote.