Food: Worldwide struggles and local solutions


This week we bring you an episode from our archives about food: an ever timely topic. Ever wonder why food is so cheap? No? Well, it may surprise you when sociologist Michael Carolan explains the true cost of our cheap food in an interview that delves into the enormous cost the environment and developing countries bear so that individuals in wealthy nations can chomp cheap pizza. And, pedalling permaculture enthusiasts well aware of unsustainable agriculture systems will share their local solution to global problems in an interview about the Victoria-based bicycle-powered compost company, Pedal to Petal!

Episode link.

Pedal to Petal
Pedal to Petal is a Bicycle Powered Compost Pickup Company located in Victoria B.C. They are a carbon-negative social enterprise that’s found a unique way of transforming kitchen waste into treasure, and livelihood. They describe themselves as “a permaculture-based collective of bicycle loving food security activists who are taking direct action to reduce carbon emissions and landfill waste and to feed the soil and the city’s hungry”.  They do this through a bike-powered kitchen scrap pick up service, building edible landscapes, and composting. Trevor Van Hemert of Pedal to Petal talks to Terra Informa about innovations in compost set-up and how to run a business that thinks outside the box.

Real Cost of Cheap Food
Michael Carolan is a sociologist with some fascinating things to say about how our food is made. Food certainly looks cheap at the supermarket, and the average north American pays far less for food relative to incomes than people did only a generation ago. But Michael Carolan argues that this extraordinarily cheap food is a product of bad agriculture policies that make the environment, other countries, and future generations bear the real cost. Michael Carolyn is based at Colorado State University, and just published a new book called The Real Cost of Cheap Food. He joins us today to talk about his work.

The Thinking Garden                                                                                                                         ‘The Thinking Garden’ is a beautiful, thought-provoking, and uplifting documentary film about South African women’s grassroots efforts to combat food insecurity, climate change, structural poverty, and HIV/AIDS. They are currently in the homestretch of an indie-gogo funding campaign and would love your help to finish the documentary!

The link to the campaign:



Download program log here.

Credit for photo to

National Aboriginal Day: Resistance through Music and Education through Storytelling

TI June 19 Buffalo.jpg

This week on Terra Informa we revisit a couple of strong First Nations speakers, first we listen to singer songwriter Sierra Jamerson and then hear a traditional story told by Dwayne Donald.

Download episode here.

Sierra Jamerson on B.C.’s Sacred Headwaters

Sierra Jamerson was born into a family of talented leaders and gifted musicians, and she’s been performing professionally since the tender age of eleven, singing traditional Black Gospel, jazz, soul and R&B music.

Part of that talented family of hers is in the Tahltan Nation in British Columbia. You might have heard of the Sacred Headwaters in Tahltan territory. It’s the origin point for three powerful rivers that run through British Columbia—the Stikine, the Skeena and the Nass. When the oil and gas industry tried to start mining in the area, Sierra’s family was at the forefront of Tahltan resistance.

Chris Chang-Yen Phillips spoke with Sierra Jamerson during a live taping at the St. John’s Institute of Edmonton in 2013.

The Story of the Buffalo Child

Math, geography and… storytelling? Teachers are regularly focused on a particular style of education that focuses on a prescribed curriculum. However the standard curriculum can lack voice, perspective and meaning without including one key aspect. Story. Dwayne Donald has challenged the norms on how we view education and curriculum through his unique position in the academic and Aboriginal communities. Dwayne toes the space between how and what we teach with his powerful message on curriculum.

Yvette Thompson spoke with Dwayne Donald, Professor in the Department of Education at the University of Alberta in September 2014. Today, we’re playing the story of The Buffalo Child, as told by Dwayne Donald.

Terra Informa Program Log

Photo Credit: Richard Throssel

Academhicks + Science Faction

(c) Pepicek on Wikipedia - Alexander Blok's poem 'Noch, ulica, fonar, apteka' on a wall in the Dutch city of Leiden (corner Roodenburgerstraat/Thorbeckestraat)

This week on Terrainforma, we talk the intersection of poetry, nature, and academia, and then we revisit an episode of Science Faction on remaking memory.


Jenna Butler

Science Faction

Have you ever had a bad memory that you wanted to change into something better? This once impossibility is now possible, at least for mice, thanks to research led by Nobel laureate Dr. Susumu Tonegawa of the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics. Join us this month on Science Faction.

The re-re-return of Misinforma


Terra Misinforma is back! Terra Informer Dylan Hall and professional improvisers and “sustainability experts” Gordie Lucius and Quinn Contini take calls from you, our beloved listeners. If you want to learn about how to connect to nature, what to do with paint, and about the dirt pile menace that threatens our city, then this is the episode for you.


Download program log here.

Photo credit to Crystalclear.

Wild Experiences & What Graphs Cannot Tell

Terra Informa Photo May 29 Taiga

This week’s episode is a double feature of archives from the past year or so that discuss two very different kinds of knowledge. In our fist story, we meet a Northwest Territories hunting guide and in the second a University of Alberta research scientist. Listen this week to get both your land- and data-based learning fixes.

Download episode here.

Wild Experiences
Kody Pritchard has been a hunting guide through the Mackenzie Mountains in the Northwest Territory for seven years. He’s had a number of unique experiences, Many of which so dangerous, they’d send most people racing back to the comfort and safety of civilization. Here Ashely Kocsis speaks with Pritchard about some of his most memorable experiences of life and survival in the depths of one of the few remaining wilderness landscapes in Canada.
What Graphs Cannot Tell
Many scientists are uncomfortable speaking about what their work means without sticking to the bounds of their data. But Rebecca Lawton is both a natural scientist and a creative writer. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips spoke to her in Edmonton, where she served as the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Humanities, Social Sciences, and Fine Arts at the University of Alberta.
Photo by: L.B. Brubaker

Whale Communication and Geoengineering


This week, from the archives, whale communication and genetic modification. The first story is from beloved Terra Informer Natalee Rawat, who is taking a break from the show since she is moving to Vancouver! We wish you the best, Natalee! The next one is on geoengineering, from the Zero 2014 conference in Edmonton.

Download episode here.

The Curious Case of the “Sea Canaries”

Beluga whales are sometimes called “sea canaries” or the “canaries of the sea” because of the various whistling, clucking and clicking sounds they make.

As a researcher, part of Dr. Valeria Vergara’s PhD thesis included recording belugas at the Vancouver Aquarium and deciphering their vocalizations. She found that beluga calves are similar to human babies in that they have to learn to make different calls. Dr. Vergara was able to identify and classify 28 distinct call types during her research, including a the “contact call” – the communication between a mother and her calf.

Terra Informa’s Natalee Rawat visited Dr. Vergara last November at the Vancouver Aquarium to talk about this curious marine mammal. The Vancouver Aquarium is currently highlighting Canada’s north in their feature, ‘Celebrate Arctic’. For more info visit,

Chris Turner on Geoengineering

A few years ago, the United Nations panel studying climate change decided they would tackle a controversial topic. Geoengineering is the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment. And many people want to talk about geoengineering our way out of the climate change crisis. Calgary-based author Chris Turner writes about technology and sustainability. His books showcase some of the exciting ways that communities around the world are already taking on climate change. When we ran into Chris at the Zero 2014 Conference in Edmonton, we had to ask him what he thought about geoengineering and if there were better ways to take on the climate crisis.

Learn more: LeapWorks, Chris Turner on Twitter

Download program log here.

Image credit to Tony Fox.

Return to Big Island Woodbend

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This week, we’re revisiting a field trip we took last year through Edmonton’s largest natural area—Big Island Woodbend. Our guides were the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society. Discover what it takes to join their mission: the politics, the passion for nature, and the ignoring of trespassing signs.

Download episode here.



Big Island Woodbend

What’s up in the deep South(west) of Edmonton? Just across the river from well-manicured Windermere, there lies a sprawling natural area—Big Island Woodbend. We met up with the group who has made it their mission to turn the area into a place where all Edmontonians can enjoy and experience nature.

Our guides are Michael Phair and Karen Tang of the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society. On the trail, you’ll also hear from Danielle Dolgoy, Tasmia Nishat, Carson Fong, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips and Trevor Chow-Fraser.

Join us on a field trip through Edmonton’s largest natural area—Big Island Woodbend. Our guides are the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society. Discover what it takes to join their mission: the politics, the passion for nature, and the ignoring of trespassing signs.

Program Log- May 15 Big Island Woodbend 2016

Fleeing the Fort McMurray Wildfire


This past week, we’ve found ourselves pulled into the drama in Fort McMurray, just four hours north of our studios. The devastating wildfire has forced 80,000 evacuees to flee the city, and tens of thousands are now here in Edmonton.

Today, we’re bringing you stories collected by fellow volunteers at CJSR Radio in the days immediately after the evacuation. We’ll hear first-hand accounts of people who had to flee, and meet people who have opened up their hearts and wallets to help. And listen through for some analysis on the climate change context from a University of Alberta wildfire expert.

Download Episode

Thank you to this week’s contributors from CJSR Radio, Marco Visconti, Skye Hyndman and Pat McIlveen. The show was produced and hosted by Chris Chang-Yen Phillips and Trevor Chow-Fraser.

If you have a story about how you’ve been impacted by the Fort McMurray fire, reach out to us on Twitter @terrainforma or email

Download Program Log Here