As I sat in front of my laptop to write the year’s final blog, I was reminded of the many challenges, obstacles and problems the year has thrown at us. Droughts. Floods. Fires. Lockdowns. Travel restrictions. The list could go on and on, as there is seemingly no shortage of adversity faced by people this year. However, upon a second reflection, I realized the year provided a lot of good things that tended to get glossed over a bit, so they weren’t as noticeable.
One of the less visible things to be thankful for is that even though farmers were walloped by brutal temperatures and drought, Canada continues to produce enough food such that we aren’t facing concerns about food insecurity. Even though the yields of many commodities declined, Canadian farmers still produced enough food to meet domestic needs and had surpluses available to export. While the rising price of food is concerning, there is comfort in knowing that even if we have to pay more for many food products, at least they will be available on the grocery store shelves when we are shopping.
Another positive experienced over the past four months is that students have been able to attend some classes in-person again. Online course delivery is not a conducive way to teach for many of us, so to once again be able to stand at the front of a classroom and talk to my students has been very rewarding. To hear students laughing and joking before class, asking questions in class and having conversations with students after class is a great pleasure, and all are things that can never exist in an online course. From the comments I heard from students, they greatly appreciated being back in classrooms and able to see their classmates and friends again.
The resumption of in-person events has also been a great boost to the human psyche. I’ve heard many comments from people who have been able to attend in-person events this fall and they are very grateful for the opportunity to meet with friends and colleagues once again. I was fortunate enough to have been able to participate in two such events this fall. I met many new people and meeting someone online through a video meeting simply can’t hold a candle to being able to speak face to face with someone and have a conversation.
This has also been a great year for science. Advances in science have provided tremendous benefits to our health and to how our food is produced. Without incredible advances in vaccine development, our world would be vastly different had pharmaceutical companies needed to rely on older technologies to develop vaccines. Announcements by Canadian regulatory agencies that genome editing technologies will be treated as conventional plant breeding are very welcomed news, as this will ensure that Canadian farmers can ensure yields will be as high as they can possibly be, as climates change.
2021 has been kind to SAIFood too!
SAIFood has also had a very positive year. This fall, SAIFood was ranked as the #1 blog and website for agricultural sustainability by Feedspot. Additionally, Amazon’s website ranking system Alexa has ranked SAIFood throughout the year, and currently, thanks to you all our blog has reached #5,824 top-ranked website in all of Canada over the past 90 days. Globally, SAIFood has reached the #201,029 position. Four years ago, SAIFood at this same time was ranked #33,780 in Canada and #1,175,966 in the world.
While SAIFood and my research chair have had a good year, the credit for this lies with my amazing research team. Savannah Gleim is the brilliance behind SAIFood’s constantly fresh look and content. Rim Lassoued leads our survey projects and is incredibly skilled at ensuring our survey response rates are as high as possible and that the data gathered is thoroughly analyzed. Diego Macall is a highly talented research associate as he willingly engages with new projects assigned to him, constantly delivering top-quality research. Chelsea Sutherland is our emerging star, having just completed her Masters’ degree, Chelsea joined our team as a research associate leading our farmer surveys. And lastly, Jordan Schiewe is a current Masters’ student who is expanding the reach of our surveys into neighbouring provinces. A huge and heartfelt thank you to my research team!!! We have accomplished a great deal in 2021 and it is entirely due to the incredibly hard work each of you has contributed.
I know that many have experienced a less than ideal 2021. I hope you will think of a few gems that appeared in your year as you read this. I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and to extend my best wishes for a healthy and happy 2022.