Speaker: Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Dalhousie University

( CLICK HERE for Sylvain's Biography)

While meat consumption is increasing in the developing world, it has plateaued in many developed economies. Optimal for health and projected trends suggest global meat consumption is set to rise further into this century, but not everywhere, especially in the Western world. Plant-based dieting appears to be taking a larger place in how consumers view food systems in developed economies. The aim of this exploratory study is to better understand consumer attitudes about meat consumption and assess the intersections between meat avoidance and attachment. It also investigates how prominent plant-based, or self-imposed dietary restrictions related to meat consumption are in the marketplace. Results show that a significant number of Canadians have adopted a diet which either limits or eliminates the consumption of meat. Some generational differences were reported. While many vegans are under the age of 38 (Millennials and Gen Zs), a great number of boomers consider themselves as flexitarians. Health benefits appear to be important for both genders. Women appear to be more concerned about animal welfare and taste preferences. Some limitations are presented, and future research ideas are put forward.

 Host: Dean Stanford Blade, University of Alberta

( CLICK HERE for Stan's Biography)

Speaker: David Hughes, Global Sustainability Research Inc. 

( CLICK HERE for David's Biography)

Notwithstanding the widespread acknowledgement that global warming is a serious environmental problem for future generations, the world continues to rely on fossil fuels for over 80% of primary energy consumption. In Canada, despite being the second largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world, 80% of end use energy is provided by fossil fuel. Despite committing to a 30% reduction in emissions by 2030, Canada’s emissions were down only 0.14% from 2005 levels as of 2018, the most recent year for which data are available, and global emissions set an all-time record in 2019. Investment in “renewables”, which has increased markedly in recent years, has not resulted in a net decrease in fossil fuel use – it has only offset a quarter of the increase in global electricity demand from 2010-2018. Against this backdrop, 26% of Canada’s emissions were from upstream oil and gas production in 2018. Production is forecast by the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) to grow through 2040, such that by 2050, assuming production growth stops in 2040 at the end of the CER forecast, the oil and gas sector alone will exceed an 80% emissions reduction target in 2050 by 101%, even if every other sector of Canada’s economy reduced emissions to zero. The Trudeau Government’s recent claim that Canada will be “net-zero” by 2050 is completely incompatible with its own forecasts of increased oil and gas production.  The energy sector constituted 9.2% of Canada’s GDP in 2019, down from 11% in 1997, despite the fact that oil and gas production increased by 56%. Taxes paid by industry to government have declined by 69% since peaking in 2006, from $3.96 to $1.21 per barrel. In Alberta, by far the largest oil and gas producing province, total revenue from non-renewable oil and gas production has declined by 67% since 2005, even though production has increased by 41%. In BC, total royalty revenue from oil and gas production is down 84% since 2005, despite a 96% increase in production.

Canada is at a crossroads if it is serious about its commitments on climate change. Politicians tell us that production must grow in order to provide revenue to reduce emissions, and are using taxpayer funds to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline, build the Keystone XL pipeline, and subsidize LNG exports. At the same time, the data show that production must decline if emissions targets are to be met, and revenue from oil and gas production is collapsing, even as production grows. Although it is likely that Canadians will need oil and gas at some level for the foreseeable future, Canada’s current path for emissions reduction is a recipe to fail. Canada urgently needs a viable energy strategy based on facts, not empty political rhetoric.

( CLICK HERE for David's Slides)
( CLICK HERE Andrew’s Tyee article on today’s report)

Speaker: Dr. Mary Beckie, University of Alberta
( CLICK HERE for Mary's Biography)

Demand for organic food in Canada continues to rise, with a total market estimate in 2017 of $5.4 billion, up from $3.5 billion in 2012. Provincially, Alberta leads this demand with 74% of consumers making weekly organic purchases, predominantly imported fruits and vegetables at mainstream retail outlets. Certified organic production in Alberta, which represents approximately 1% of total production, isn’t addressing this demand due to volume of supply and its focus on export-oriented cereals. There is, however, a small but growing number of new and aspiring young farmers in Alberta who are setting their sights beyond organic agriculture and export markets. Using agroecology, permaculture and other ecological practices, they are looking at farming from a whole systems perspective. These are relatively small-scale, diversified farming operations that are targeting consumer demand for local food. In recent decades Alberta has seen strong growth in the local food sector, with a total market value estimate in 2016 of $1.624 billion from farmers’ markets, farm retail and local food restaurants, quadruple that of 2004. But in addition to feeding local consumers, Alberta’s Young Agrarians are part of an international movement that is concerned about social equity, food sovereignty and environmental sustainability of the agri-food system. In this presentation you will learn about the values and politics of this movement and the related emerging trends in production and consumption occurring in Alberta.

Speaker: Deputy Minister of Energy, Grant Sprague
( CLICK HERE for Grant's Biography)

Integrated resource management is a holistic and balanced approach to managing natural resources. As a province abundant in oil, gas, forestry, agriculture, land, wildlife and water, Alberta’s approach to IRM is central to developing our energy resources in a sustainable way.

This approach identifies the need to collaborate and engage across multiple sectors, government departments, Indigenous communities and user groups to better balance economic, environmental, social and Indigenous Peoples’ outcomes essential for responsible resource development in our province.

From land use and energy development, to water conservation and groundwater, to orphan wells and reclamation, Alberta Energy’s approach to IRM allows our province to plan for success - today and in the future.

Speaker: John Meadley, Pasture-fed Livestock Association 

( CLICK HERE for John's Biography)

Two thirds of the world’s farmland is pasture - the world’s largest single, photosynthesizing solar panel and largest single terrestrial store of carbon - capable of storing significantly more. The ruminants that graze on such pasture are mobile, self-replicating anaerobic digesters converting otherwise indigestible cellulose into products of value to mankind – meat, milk, wool, leather and draft power. Pasture and ruminants co-evolved, are mutually dependent and can together maintain high levels of both flora and fauna biodiversity.
Over recent decades, specialization and industrialization has increasingly separated ruminants from pasture, being fed increasing amounts of concentrate that do not use the full capacity of the rumen and may damage it. Specialized livestock units are increasingly out of balance with the land on which the animals are raised – resulting in volumes of manure that far exceed the capacity of the adjacent land to absorb it. Arable land, that should benefit from the healing role of pasture and the fertility-building manure of the grazing animal, is increasingly dependent upon a range of chemicals that seep into soil, food and waterways. There is a need to rebuild the relationship between ruminants, pastures and arable land and to nurture the mutual benefits that flow from it. Since 2011, the farmer-led Pasture-fed Livestock Association in UK has revived strong interest in this relationship and is building the evidence that underlies its benefits. Co-founder and President, John Meadley will tell its story – from the global perspective through to the farm.

Speaker: Chris Turner, Author

( CLICK HERE for Chris' Biography)

Drawing on his recent national bestseller, THE PATCH: The People, Politics and Pipelines of the Oil Sands, as well as 15 years of reporting on the challenge of climate change and the global wave of innovation that has emerged to solve it, Chris Turner will provide an overview of the emerging shift to a low-carbon economy worldwide and Alberta's place in it. He will examine how the oil sands came to play a central role in the economies of Alberta and Canada, how it became a target for national and international climate protest, and what the place of the oil sands and Alberta's energy industry generally will be in a rapidly changing global energy marketplace.

Speaker: Diana Rodgers, Nutritionist

( CLICK HERE for Diana's Biography)

Meat has become the most polarizing food choice in today’s diet tribes. Beef is labeled as unhealthy, unsustainable and unethical. One can’t possibly eat meat AND be concerned about good nutrition, the environment, and animal welfare, right? Diana Rodgers, a “real food” dietitian living on a working organic vegetable and pasture-based meat farm is pushing back against the anti-meat messages in her upcoming film and book, Sacred Cow: The Case for Better Meat. She’ll explain why the studies liking meat to cancer are not hard science, that well-managed cattle are one of our best tools at mitigating climate change, and that eliminating meat from our food system could cause more harm than good. 

Speaker: Karen Haugen-Kozyra, Viresco Solutions 

( CLICK HERE for Karen's Biography)

Karen will discuss the latest developments related to the science of greenhouse gas quantification in livestock and pastoral systems; what this means moving forward and how producers can take advantage of these developments. 
Speaker: Dr. Lars Hallstrom, University of Alberta  

( CLICK HERE for Lars' Biography)

This presentation examines the reality of embedding sustainability as a concept, practice, process and goal within the political context of rural communities in Alberta. Drawing from 10 years of projects and operations at the Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities, the goal of this presentation is to situate local environmental policy and politics within the broader context of integrated community sustainability. The subsequent objectives include explaining the environmental/social/economic context of rural Alberta, understanding from a systems approach both the policy-making and implementation successes and challenges for smaller communities, and providing a policy analysis-based explanation of the role and challenges for environmental politics in rural Alberta as part of the sustainability “model” ostensibly used by local governments. This presentation, therefore, hinges on both identifying and addressing the core policy questions facing rural decision-makers: What are the pressing challenges facing municipalities in Alberta? What are the common trends for environmental policy design at the local level? How do communities prioritize importance, action and effect within, and across, policy sectors? What is the capacity of municipalities to respond to sustainability-relevant challenges? How can smaller communities integrate and engage across different pillars of sustainability? Do they want/need to? What do the "rural futures" look like for Alberta?
Speaker: Dr. Richard Bazinet, University of Toronto

( CLICK HERE for Richard's Biography)

The field of nutrition has largely been dominated by and interest in obesity and cardiovascular diseases. However, an emerging field suggests that nutrition can both favorably and unfavorably affect the brain. This talk will review how our understanding of brain chemistry and its composition informs us about what foods might be optimal for the brain. The brain is somewhat unique in that it has a very high energy demand, given its size, that can be fueled by either glucose or ketones. One unique aspect of brain composition is its high content of an omega-3 fatty acid that is commonly found in fish. I will then review recent observational studies and randomized clinical trials focusing on nutrition and brain health. While some dietary patterns and foods have been linked to a decreased risk of neurological disorders, a few of them have also been linked to an increased risk of psychiatric diseases. Little evidence from high quality randomized controlled trials exists for studies of nutrition and the brain. While there is some overlap between the nutrition wars and brain health, there are also some emerging areas of concern, that hopefully we do not forget about in the nutrition wars. 

( CLICK HERE for Bob's Biography) 
( CLICK HERE for Sylvain's Biography) 
( CLICK HERE for Grant's Biography) 
( CLICK HERE for John's Biography) 
( CLICK HERE for Sara's Biography) 
( CLICK HERE for Tim's Biography)