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Nutrition Notes (PCN Spring 2017) MAR 28 2017 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of Pulse Crop News.

Debra McLennan, RD APG Food & Nutrition Coordinator

Did you celebrate Canada’s Agriculture Day on February 16? This first ever event was announced on June 1, 2016 in Ottawa on the last day of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity Public Trust Summit. This was to be a day to celebrate the agriculture industry and connect Canadian consumers with Canadian food and the people who produce it. Canada’s Agriculture Day was celebrated across Canada and created thousands of conversations about our food and agriculture. It was so popular on social media that the hashtag (#CdnAgDay) trended on Twitter!

What did APG do to celebrate? We were approached, along with other commodity groups, by ATB Financial about an idea they had to gather together a group of people to listen, learn and share conversations about farming and food. In conjunction with Canada’s 150th Anniversary, the goal was to get 150 Millennial guests representing agriculture, commodities, culinary media and consumers for a “Meeting in the Middle” long table dinner in Olds, Alberta.

Why this type of event? There were a few reasons. First, according to Statistics Canada, less than three per cent of Canadians have a connection to agriculture today, compared to 90 per cent in the 1930s. Everyone eats food, but the connection to where that food comes from, who produces it and how it’s processed is being lost in our urban centers. Second, the agriculture industry is often overlooked as a major contributor to our economy. Third, there isn’t a lot of trust between agriculture and consumers. What better way to ignite the conversation and create those connections about agriculture and food than sitting down together at the dinner table and enjoying a meal made with Alberta products and prepared by Alberta chefs!

Once the format was decided, the focus shifted to who to invite. It didn’t take long to decide that it should be those who belong to our next generation, under 35 years of age, the Millennials. This population group is now the largest, bigger than the population of Baby Boomers. And their voices and choices have a huge influence on our food landscape, so it only made sense to engage this group in our event!

In the end, there were 154 guests from Edmonton and Calgary in attendance who, along with producers from all over the province, enjoyed a five-course meal accompanied by beverages from Alberta craft breweries and distilleries as well as a Calgary coffee roaster.

APG invited four pulse producers to share their agriculture story, and I had the opportunity to talk to the chefs. I personally thought the event was a success for APG because pulses were featured in three of the five courses at the dinner, and a white bean and green lentil hummus snack was provided for those who took the bus! This also showed me that International Year of Pulses 2016 had an impact on our culinary industry since the chefs took it upon themselves to include pulses in their creations with no prompting from me!

Surveys have been sent to all the invited guests who attended, and it will be interesting to see what they thought of the event and if the goal of connecting Alberta Millennial consumers to agriculture in Alberta was achieved.