He is an agriculture graduate of the University of Guelph with a long career working with farmers and the companies that provide products and services to them. For the past five years Peter was the Director, Agriculture and Food, at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. He was the featured guest speaker at the latest Canadian Club of Halton dinner at the Oakville Conference Centre. His presentation “My 12-Minute Walk to the Country: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Agriculture and Food” drew on his experiences with “The Royal” and dispelled many negative opinions about the food we produce and consume but raised some concerns about the struggle to attract the younger generation to the many opportunities in the industry.Born and raised in the city and currently residing in downtown Toronto, just a 12-minute walk to the Exhibition Place fairgrounds, Peter is now working as a consultant in food and agriculture. He has also been an active member on the Board of AgScape, the voice of agriculture in the classroom for Ontario (https://agscape.ca/) located in Milton. He is currently assisting AgScape as its Interim Executive Director.
“I’ve worked in agriculture all my career”, Peter says, “studied it in school and visited hundreds of farms across Canada. Like many of us in agriculture, we wish the urban public would take a science-based view of modern farming. It is an indisputable fact that Canada has some of the safest food on the planet. Many urbanites I encounter, however, seem to prefer an emotion-based perspective on food, which is that if it seems icky, it must be unsafe. An independent research study some years ago found that when presented with the concept of feeding silage to cattle – chopped plant material stored in a silo where it ferments to improve palatability and nutrient release – a number of urban respondents said they would not eat meat or dairy products from animals that had been fed such a gross diet.”
Other topics covered in Peter’s remarks and in the subsequent question & answer period included the science and safety of genetically modified foods (for resistance to pathogens and herbicides and for better nutrient profiles), organics, the cost of farmland and farming equipment, industry standards, transportation of food animals, the risks of monoculture, food waste, perfect looking fruits and vegetables vs “seconds”, and flavour vs the demand for year-round availability of fresh foods.
View photos from event.