Monday, 25 March 2013



March 2013 - Not Under The Pine Press

A midsized facility in Etobicoke, Ontario, that makes peanut butter for industrial use has recently started enforcing a ban on nuts in the workplace. According to the company's HR representative there are numerous employees working in the onsite offices that have serious peanut allergies and/or brazil nut allergies. "We are taking into account the health of our just makes sense. You can't have employees having anaphylactic attacks at the work place...productivity would be negatively impacted."
The situation came to a head three months ago when this factory, which used to produce jams and other fruit based spreads, changed production to peanut butter. At the time there were employees with nut allergies who were offered a severance package and politely asked to leave. However, this enraged allergy activists and the local food manufacturing employee union (LFMEU 2127). A court battle ensued with affected employees arguing a violation of the charter of rights, their right to work, and other such rights.
An out of court settlement has been agreed to by both sides. The company has agreed to transfer the employees to non-production based jobs and strictly enforce what they are calling a 'no nuts in the office' policy.
The Allergists United movement has claimed a victory here, sighting this as an example of compromise and inclusion by the 'non-allergic'. "Even in a situation as extreme as a peanut butter factory those with nut allergies can, and should, be included," spokeswoman R. Walsh announced at a local meeting last Thursday afternoon.
The owner of the factory, who is rumoured to have a peanut allergy himself, was supportive of the ban through the entire process. He was previously quoted, in 2008, as saying, "a healthy worker is a productive worker." Which may be part of the reason the bargaining went so smoothly.

23:03 | Toronto | NUTPP

Wednesday, 13 March 2013



Not Under The Pine Press - March 2013

A blanket of snow covering trees, roads, building, is a sight many of us Canadians take for granted. But, it is a sight most southern Californians have never witnessed before. That may explain the surprising demand for Canadian snow, which they are consuming by the ton - in the form of snow cones.
A small company, The SNOW Cone Cart, located in Oxnard, CA (near the sprawling city of L.A.), selling snow cones has recently started using snow in its product instead of the traditional shaved ice. The snow supplier they have subcontracted out to is a Canadian firm located in British Columbia. Owner and operator Carl Mendez believes this 'imported snow' gives him an advantage in the highly competitive snow cone market and he may be right. Since launching the 'Real SNOW cone', as he dubbed it, his sales have sky rocketed, so much so that he is planning an expansion into new markets and is even looking into a franchising option. Even considering the higher price of the snow cones, due to the increased shipping costs and storage of the snow, Mendez can barely keep up with the demand.

Could this be the start of a new market for one of Canada's least used natural resources?

A comment from the Ministry of Economic Development thinks so. Spokesman Irving Irvine commented, "according to the preliminary numbers, we could be on the forefront of millions of dollars worth of snow being exported down day we could be looking at adding twenty to thirty thousand good paying jobs in BC alone." Currently snow cone exports account for under $10,000 in trade.

Interest in the business community is also ramping up with one local entrepreneur starting the legal process of legalizing claims on snow located on crown land, similar to logging or mining claims. This request is currently pending in the provincial courts, but, is expected to be ruled on in the next few weeks.

On the environmental front a group of young environmentalists calling themselves AARS (Alliance Against Removing Snow) have started an online petition calling for the ban on extracting and exporting snow. As of today they had just over one hundred thousand signatures. Other environmental groups (WWF, Coalition of the Environment, Treehuggers, Naturalists of BC) have voiced concerns over what they are viewing as another environmental scar caused by business. One tweet from the NOBC was trending high last week and has really brought the topic to the forefront, "I understand the logging industry replanting the trees they harvest, but, what are they going to do about the snow they take? You can't replant snow!"

This seemingly insignificant decision to use a scoop of real snow on a snow cone is already causing waves throughout many levels of Canadian society. Is this going to be another oil sands debate, pitting Canadians against one another? 

13:55 | Vancouver | NUTPP