Hollywood couple invests in Sask. pulse processor

VANSCOY, Sask. — Academy award winning film director James Cameron made a stop in farming country this week to announce the opening of a new multi-million dollar pulse processing plant at Vanscoy, Sask., about 20 minutes west of Saskatoon.

The 160,000 tonnes fractionation facility will be part of Verdient Foods Inc., a business that was formed by Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis Cameron, major investors in the plant.

The new facility will source yellow peas grown in the province and will convert them into value-added protein, starch and fibre ingredients to be used by food manufacturers in Canada and around the world.

The Camerons, who reside in California, are involved in a variety of agricultural ventures in Canada and around the world, all with the common goal of promoting healthy food choices and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.

Initially, the Vanscoy facility will source and process conventionally grown peas but the eventual goal is to convert the plant to an all-organic facility that handles only organically produced pulse crops.

“We want to have business enterprises here in Saskatchewan, such as this one, that are profitable and that show an example of how you can do something that’s good for the environment and (for) future generations,” said Cameron, a vegan, whose films include The Titanic and Avatar.

It’s only by adopting more environmentally friendly production practices, that “we’ll be able to slowly steer our ship of human civilization toward a more sustainable future,” he added.

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Francisco Gardulski, plant manager at Vanscoy, said the facility has no definitive timelines on when production will be converted to organic.

For now, the company’s focus is on sourcing conventional yellow peas, ramping up production and developing new markets for the plant’s value-added products.

“We’re going to start with peas initially and after that we will look at other pulses as well,” said Gardulski.

“We want to be at 50 percent capacity by December.”

The Camerons have also entered into a four-year, $500,000 agreement with the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre to develop value-added organic food products.

As part of that deal, the Hollywood couple will help to finance a pilot scale fractionation facility at the Saskatoon-based food centre.

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The pilot scale facility will be aimed at enhancing fractionation methods and processing other pulse crops.

Carl Potts, executive director of Sask. Pulse Growers, said the new Vanscoy facility is good news for pulse growers and the pulse industry.

“This new processing capacity, especially in the areas of fractionation and ingredients, is an important part of our overall growth strategy as an industry,” Potts said.

“We already have dominant market share in many traditional markets for pulses and if we want to continue to grow acres and grow production, we need to build demand as well so (expanding) ingredient demand … is an important part of that.”

Investors declined to attach a dollar figure to the new Vanscoy plant.

Verdient will immediately begin sourcing yellow peas.

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The plant’s first products are expected to be shipped out in November, Gardulski said.

  • Stephen Daniels

    Good tax dodge for Cameron but the myth that organic is good can only go so far.Organic farmers push bush drain wetlands and destroy wildlife habitat same as conventional farmers and their carbon footprint is pretty large when all the fossil fuel they consume doing tillage repeatedly is factored in,probably larger than a conventional farmer on the same acres.

  • Happy Farmer

    Just a couple of points.
    It’s interesting that the Plant mentioned is going to process conventional peas with no timeline when it will go organic. Sounds like they are covering “all their bases”. Also does not sound like a big commitment to organics.

    You claim organic is more sustainable. What is your definition of sustainable? A huge problem today is that farmers are not being consulted or respected on their views of “Sustainable”. We have been through many innovations, droughts , floods, machines, different types of crops and different ways of farming. Our experiences related to farming should make us the “Experts” when it comes to a definition of sustainability.

    The simple fact that there are not more organic farmers should clue all of us to some facts. It may not be as profitable or even as sustainable as conventional farming.

    There is nothing in the world that will go backwards. Asking farmers to go farm the way they did 50 plus years ago won’t happen. This is what you are asking if Organic is how we should go.
    My grandfather farmed organically, as did all other farmers in the past. As fertilizer and chemicals became available he started using them. As a young teenager I remember him saying he would never go back to farming as he had in the past. Here I am, still farming. That sounds like sustainability to me.

    • Harold

      The word sustainability is just as you have stated. It is an empty term and it is indiscriminately thrown around today by the talking heads of ideologies to induce a sleepy mind. Furthermore, no one can go back in time and neither can they move forward. The changes on the farm are only methods. “Organic” is a method – it is not a time-travel. A plant and nature are unaware of time, our superstitions, fantasies, and ideologues, and as in the past and now present, nature does not ever bow down to obey us. A plant can grow without us – or with us, as it has always been; “Organic” is without us. Nature has never been held back because some human mind wasn’t telling it what to do or how to reproduce its self. If there is poison, sickness, and pollution; is it because Mother Nature doesn’t know what she is doing? Slap her, and she slaps you back – twice as hard – if not harder. Societies can no longer afford their own sickness care. (health care – is looking after the environment as stewards and examining what you breathe, eat and drink, and rub onto your body – a mystery for corporate profit these days) Health-care like sustainability is another empty word.

  • Melody Byblow

    I’m disappointed by the negativity in comments here about organic farming practices. Perhaps 100% organic is idealistic, however there are farmers doing it and their land is more fertile because of it. How about a goal of using less or no harmful chemicals, transitioning to healthier methods? I think that any farmer’s goal is to grow healthy food in the most responsible way possible. They are stewards of our land and I’m sure want to see it protected and the food harvested to be healthy for human consumption. With the modern day conventional farming monoculture and chemical warfare on insects, weeds and fungi it has changed how food is grown, and reduces its nutritional values in some ways. We have super weeds and super bugs now too. Unfortunately the food safety aspect wasn’t really understood when some of these chemicals came into use, and federal agencies trusted the manufacturers to say they are safe. Seriously! Some of these are chemicals that were used during wars to cause havoc and destroy everything in its path – does a rational brain think that is good to put on our food? The chemicals have a residual effect on the land, the ecosystem, and have been contributors to the increasing rate of degenerative diseases and problems with digestion, which leads to other nutritional deficiencies, food sensitivities, allergic reactions, and more – both in animals and in humans. One of the chemicals that has a >95% correlation between the rates of use and multiple disease increases over the past 30 years is Roundup (pp.13-14 for data graphs, and read about other glyphosate issues here – https://people.csail.mit.edu/seneff/2016/SeneffToronto.pdf). The chemical company lied about its inert effect on humans and the environment and we are seeing the effects more and more now. Multi-billion dollar companies with high profit goals for their shareholders manipulate data to make things appear safe. If you’re a farmer and you’ve been told by a manufacturer that the chemicals you are using are safe I’m sure you want to believe that. Where’s the proof? Health Canada has no evidence of that, and have failed to protect farmers and consumers. Have you heard about the high rates of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Parkinson’s for farmers (hint: there’s a connection)? We have a healthcare system that is overwhelmed by diseases they can’t manage and have no cures for – yet they create more customers for drug companies, increasing side effects and complications. In the natural nutrition world, the way to deal with many of these health issues is to reduce and eliminate sources of toxins as much as possible, improve the nutritional intake of foods, and correcting nutritional deficiencies. Choosing organic foods is one of the key things recommended and it works. I personally have reduced and almost eliminated my fibromyalgia and chronic debilitating pain symptoms by doing this, and so have thousands of others dealing with other diseases. Eating organic food is healthier – this is not a myth – it’s fact. Want more proof? Glyphosate residues are on our food, including non-GMO crops as well. CFIA just released a report here about that: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/chemical-residues-microbiology/food-safety-testing-bulletins/2017-04-13/executive-summary/glyphosate-testing/eng/1491846907641/1491846907985