June 23, 2019

The Logic

Electric Vehicles (EV) charging stations and park at the University of Guelph

Imagine a conversation among three individuals about global issues. The three individuals are Dara (intellectual), Ade (futuristic), and Monday (fatalistic).

Dara: Hello friends. I am happy you agreed to meet. It’s been a while – busy attending conferences. I just arrived from a workshop in Kigali.

Monday: No qualms Dara. It has been predetermined that we will meet today.

Ade: By who? Assuming I didn’t schedule it in my calendar, Alexa and Cortana will not remind me. Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI).

Monday: What is AI when everything is based on the intelligence of the developer and the desirability of the data?

Dara: To corroborate your point (Monday), the GPS in my car tells me to turn left when I am supposed to turn right.

Ade: Interesting! I told the Uber driver that drove me here to stop the GPS because it added five kilometres to the journey. I know the way better.

Monday: I once heard that Google’s facial recognition can not differentiate between a cat and a dog.

Ade: They are working on it. Have you heard of Nvidia? Homo Sapiens are intelligent creatures though they want to be Homo Deus as alluded to by Yuval Harari.

Monday: It baffles me how arrogant we have become. How can humans start behaving like the Supreme being? Impossibility!

Dara: I am confused by epistemological and metaphysical reasoning. But for sure we have surpassed our ancestors. As a young man, I never thought we will be able to check email, watch television and video chat with a smart phone, browse the internet in the Amazon jungle, and use autonomous vehicles.

Ade: Yes, the future is here. Whether it is autopilot as asserted by Elon Musk (Tesla) or LIDAR as pushed by Waymo, autonomous vehicles (AV) will work.

Monday: What will people do when cars start driving themselves? And can AV work in Lagos (Nigeria) or Delhi (India)? I don’t understand these inordinate ambitions.

Dara: These are not illusions. AV, digitalization, 5G technology, and the fourth industrial revolution are already a reality. Most devices are digitized, my friends drive electric vehicles (Nissan leaf and Tesla: challenges include wait period after order, lack of infrastructure – charging stations vs petrol stations, and a fully charged Nissan leaf can only travel 250 km).

Waymo is ahead in the AV sector with early riders in Phoenix and Chandler, AZ.

And blockchain technology is creeping in …

Ade: Yes, the blockchain. A distributed ledger that is immutable, decentralized, group managed and enhances trust among strangers. It will curtail fraud in many spheres of life.

Monday: The problem with the two of you is that you refuse to look at the downside of all these innovations and the limitations of man.

Dara: Who told you we have limitations?

Monday: We are mortals and we have limits. On another note, what about the sustainability of electric and autonomous vehicles? They both need lithium-ion batteries and the cobalt is from Congo. Do you think it is ethical?

Ade: The electrification of transportation will mitigate climate change. Research is ongoing on how to replace cobalt with other materials. Moreover, stakeholders are working hard on the reduction of conflict minerals from Congo entering the international market.

Wait till we have electric planes. It will happen in our lifetime.

Dara: Ade, just ignore Monday. He is lagging! Remember that today is Friday. On the issue of blockchain, I heard from a Canadian researcher, Adekunle, explaining the concept at my conference in Dar es Salaam few weeks ago.

He alluded to an idea called crypto-labelling – based on blockchain. I did my research and discovered that he published an article about it in 2016.

Ade: I saw the powerpoint presentation via a friend. He linked opacity and food authenticity. The presentation reminded me of the first time I read about opacity in Nassim Taleb’s book.

Monday: Which of his books? I just completed “Skin in the Game”.

Ade: Can’t remember. All I know is that crypto-labelling is a process that will allow consumers to trace, authenticate, and ensure transparency in their food supply and value chain.

Monday: These are not problems of people in rural areas who grow their own food.

Dara: Now that you mentioned food, I remembered a book “How ethnocultural food reaches our tables” on the challenges people face in terms of the procurement of their culturally appropriate food.

Ade: Great book! I learned about farmers market, community shared agriculture, nexus between immigration and food, global food regime, and the definition of food.

Monday: By the way, one of my friends, Wondimu, indicated that the world is a small place for refugees. Maybe availability of appropriate food affects their destination.

Ade: Destination is a function of many variables including employment and availability of public goods.

Monday: And access to credit. So that it will be easy to buy nice cars and a big house.

Dara: Warning – according to Prof. Saringe “You cannot base your retirement on a property”.

Ade: Thanks Dara. I’m paying today. I hope this cafĂ© accepts WeChat pay (or Alipay).

Monday: I always appreciate spending time with both of you, but some issues are unsolvable.

Dara: Please withdraw that statement. It will affect your locus of control. All challenges are solvable, we only need to be cognizant of context specificity of the phenomenon.

Ade: Furthermore, the future is unpredictable, but planning gives a shock absorber.

Monday: See both of you next month…


Bamidele Adekunle @badekunl

June 12, 2019
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June 2, 2019

The Canadian Compromise: Immigration and Food Access

Over 250,000 immigrants from around the world come to Canada every year seeking a better life which has established our country’s “open arms” attitude. Immigration, or as I like to call it a “new chapter of opportunity” allows families and individuals to live in a country that is safer and more stable than the circumstances they faced back home. Although Canada is trying its best to help settle newcomers, there are still issues between immigration and food access. Factors that have contributed to food insecurity include high immigrant unemployment rates, dilution and misrepresentation of cultural identity, and scarcity.

Immigrants face relatively higher unemployment rates than average which is why they only make up 26 percent of the entire Canadian workforce. This results in financial instability and food insecurity for many immigrant families and individuals. With such low incomes, many immigrants are unable to afford fresh or healthy foods because they are more expensive and are therefore forced to eat unhealthy options such as fast or frozen foods. Food and health are directly related which is why many immigrants face greater diet-related health issues compared to most Canadians. Low paying jobs denies immigrants access to quality foods and fresh ingredients which increases their risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease just to name a few. Paulina Rodriguez who was a graduate from Waterloo in the urban planning program made a very eye-opening statement regarding social justice issues on immigrants and food access. Rodriguez said, “Addressing diet-related health inequalities is a moral imperative, as access to high-quality food is a fundamental human right”. It is almost impossible to balance the costs of day to day life as an immigrant with the costs of healthy eating.

Many immigrants have low incomes and have to sacrifice quality over quantity to survive.

 Immigrants have made Canada the very diverse country that it is today. Although many people from different cultures and ethnicities live in our country, we have not adapted an accurate representation of their foods. Canada offers a variety of options to choose from such as shawarma, sushi, Indian and Mediterranean foods. However, when compared with the traditional cuisine immigrants make back home, our versions of these foods are often comparatively diminished relative to the original food versions. Thus many of these foods are misrepresented and diluted through multiple ingredient substitutions and non-traditional techniques. Authenticity is also a big concern for immigrants as a majority of their cultures are tied to religious beliefs that have specific food requirements such as kosher and halal. Restaurants and grocers in Canada offer little variety of halal and kosher foods which is what immigrants rely on when eating and making traditional dishes. This creates a culture shock for immigrants because they are so used to having these ingredients and foods readily available back home. Immigrants typically would rather adapt and incorporate their cultural identity and traditions rather than conform to the most common Canadian food cultures. It’s important that immigrants continue to keep their cultural identity alive through traditional foods in order to avoid being caught in the melting pot of our country’s food culture. 

Immigrants continue to face limited availability to resources due to scarcity which remains a common issue among specialty and healthy foods across Canada. Farmers’ markets for example, lack cultural diversity because they only grow and sell foods that Canadians usually consume with little regard to immigrant consumption. There are relatively few ethnic supermarkets scattered across Canada and considering over 20 percent of our population consists of immigrants (Statcan, 2016) at least half of the supermarkets should be more ethnically representative. Integration into Canadian communities can be extremely difficult for newcomers because “food plays on identity, highlighting that food is both physical and symbolic: when we eat food, our bodies react to nutrients of the ingredients. At the same time, the food also conveys meaning to ourselves and others about who we are” (Soo, 2010, pg, 1). Lack of availability of cultural foods makes “it difficult for immigrants to feel at home, welcomed, or valued and be able to integrate into and contribute to Canadian society” (Soo, 2010, pg, 2). 

 Popular Asian supermarket with only two locations in Canada: North York and London Ontario.  

It is imperative that our country address the issues immigrants face when coming to Canada for a better life. Food insecurity continues to be a problem due to high unemployment rates, misrepresentation of cultural traditions, and scarcity in specialty ingredients. Providing greater employment opportunities and training for newcomers will result in a stronger and more diverse representation amongst our country’s food industry. We should also allocate more ethnic supermarkets in geographic areas that have large immigrant communities to decrease scarcity. Lastly, it is vital that we provide greater selection and capacity of halal and kosher foods in grocers and restaurants across Canada.



Research reveals immigrants' struggle with food access. (2016, October 18). Retrieved from https://uwaterloo.ca/environment/news/research-reveals-immigrants-struggle-food-access

Soo, K. Newcomers and food insecurity: A critical literature review on immigration and food security. (2012). Major Research Paper (MRP), Ryerson University.

Alessandra Larosa-Fox, Research Assistant, ECVOntario, University of Guelph.

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