ICYMI: Canadian Space Agency explores growing food in space, ancient fishing technology identified in Comox Harbour and more

Four food stories you may have missed this week

There is never a dull moment when it comes to the wide world of food. In Canada, it has been a particularly dynamic week for food-related news from coast to coast and all the way to outer space...sort of.

From scientists on Vancouver Island discovering the largest ancient fish trap of its kind in Comox Harbour recently to the Canadian Space Agency's new food innovation competition to explore the idea of space agriculture, here are four notable food stories to catch up on this week.

1300-year-old fishing technology found in Comox Harbour

The largest ancient fish trap system of its kind in all of North America was recently identifited in the Comox Harbour area.

Mature student Nancy Greene of Malaspina College, along with her team, have been working for years to understand the stakes poking up from the shore at low tide in the Comox Harbour. Tapping into archeological records and local Indiginous oral history, one K’ómoks elder told Greene that her grandmother had said that the stakes were used to help catch salmon and feed the community.

This extremely complex–and yet simple–system that can teach us a lot about sustainable fishing today.

Read more on Comox Valley News.


Restaurants say government aid is resulting in a labour shortage, but data says different

With most restaurants and bars fully reopen across Canada, employers say they are having a difficult time finding workers despite efforts offering bonuses and other efforts to attract staff. They claim that current government benefits–such as expanded eligibility for EI payments–lowers incentive for workers to accept low wages.

However, new Statistics Canada data shows that there is an official unemployment rate of 7.5%, and other pools of hidden unemployment (including short work hours, and those who left the labour force in the midst of the pandemic) push the true unemployment rate towards 15 per cent.

Overall, wages in stores and restaurants still remains low and are not rising, which should happen if labour was genuinely scarce.

Read more in this Toronto Star piece.


Canadian Space Agency launches space agriculture competition

Launched by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Deep Space Food Challenge is currently underway.

Thomas Graham, a professor in the school of environmental sciences, was named co-chair of a national jury working to find feasible ideas for growing crops in space using food production technologies. The main idea is to use agricultural systems. This includes taking things such as greenhouses, vertical and urban farming methods and adapting them for use on the moon.

Read more over on CBC News.


Government offering up to $6M funding for Ontario food processors

The Government of Canada and Ontario's provincial government are collectively investing up to $6 million in projects to help Ontario food processors improve their operations. This will work to help them to adapt to a variety of changes in different levels of production and business as a result of the pandemic.

Applications for the first phase of this two-phase funding project are now open.

Read more on Restobiz.


Huge shifts in grocery shopping habits as restrictions ease


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Financial results from the three major grocers in Canada are giving information of the change in consumer’s shopping habits as the restrictions ease from the pandemic.

As sales at the beginning of the pandemic began to soar, many Canadians opted for full-service grocery stores, rather than discount stores. However in recent quarters, Metro, Loblaw and Empire have all noticed an increase in traffic, but smaller average purchases. They have noted a gradual return back to discount grocery stores as consumers seem to be searching for promotions rather than one-stop-shop convenience.

Read more in this Times Colonist article.