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Tornado swirls past Sask. farm

Tornado swirls past Sask. farm

No emergency alerts or weather warnings were sent out in the area regarding the storm

By Kate Ayers
Staff Writer

Chelsey van Staveren witnessed a twister coming uncomfortably close to her family’s farm in Saskatchewan on Saturday.

“We’re watching it and it just keeps getting higher and higher and higher and we’re like, ‘OK, this is not a normal dust devil,” van Staveren said to CBC yesterday.

What started out as a dust devil on the ground swept upwards and connected with a storm cloud, a CBC article said.

van Staveren spotted the tornado near her father’s Griffin, Sask.-area farm, located about 120 kilometres southeast of Regina.

“The funnel kind of came down from the sky and it joined and we were like ‘Oh my God,’” she said.

Despite the appearance of the tornado, van Staveren did not receive any emergency alerts or weather warnings for the area, the article said.

“There was no wind, so we were like, “Ah, it’s just kind of funky cloudwork.’ It’s Saskatchewan, we always get kind of weird stuff all the time,” van Staveren said to CBC.

Environment Canada later confirmed that the funnel cloud was a landspout, which was active for about 10 minutes.

A landspout is a type of tornado that is not associated with a mesocyclone (rotation) of a thunderstorm and forms from the bottom up, the Weather Network website said.   

“We were just kind of watching it pick up debris. It went through an abandoned farmyard across the way and luckily there was no one there,” she said.

“It was kind of picking up little things here and there, and getting bigger and darker.”

van Staveren said her family does not have an emergency preparedness plan for tornadoes since they have never experienced one in their area, the article said.

Environment Canada designated the landspout as “EF0.” This rating means the landspout was generated by weak rotation under growing clouds or weak thunderstorms.

Although landspouts generally do not cause significant damage, these tornadoes can be dangerous since they can take down trees, damage roofs or pick up debris, Environment Canada said.

Tornado hunters told van Staveren this type of tornado can be hard to forecast, which may have contributed to the lack of warnings from the Saskatchewan government’s emergency alert system.

Environment Canada is looking for pictures and information about the storm and is asking people to call 7-800-239-0484, email or tweet with the hashtag #skstorm.

Rasica/ iStock / Getty Images Plus photo


Trending Video

Seed to Plate Revolution: How Chefs Empower Plant Breeders to Create

Video: Seed to Plate Revolution: How Chefs Empower Plant Breeders to Create

BY: Alex Martin

It doesn’t matter what your job is — an artist, a scientist, a plant breeder… We all pull creativity and inspiration from somewhere. While there might be vastly different inspiration points between an artist and a scientist, plant breeding seems to be a happy medium between the two. Though there’s numerous pieces of data, genes and traits driving a plant variety forward, the drive, creativity and need for a variety doesn’t always have to be scientific — inspiration can come from eating, too.

Especially in the world of vegetable breeding, breeders take inspiration from tasting, cooking and eating their varieties. Sometimes, you need a professional to give you feedback.

Both Irwin Goldman and Michael Mazourek have luck asking professional tasters and eaters — chefs — for feedback during their breeding work. While the two may approach the feedback in different ways, the ultimate goal is the same: creating a new variety that people enjoy the sight of and the taste of.

“[Feedback from chefs] wasn’t systematically brought into our breeding programs until the last decade,” Goldman, professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says, noting that this feedback was thanks in part to Mazourek and Dan Barber, co-founders of Row Seven Seeds, as well as Steve Jones from Washington State University. “Prior to the influence of Dan and Steve, we interacted with chefs in an ad hoc way.”

Goldman says they would ask chefs about the kind of things they were interested in, and whether they were willing to taste some varieties they were breeding. After chefs were brought a little more intentionally to the program, that dialogue shifted and became more open ended.

“We’re actually having an ongoing, regular dialogue with people who spend their life working on preparing dishes and preparing food for others, who have great insight into the culinary properties of food,” he says. “While I can measure something in the lab, it’s also going to be important for me to have a regular interaction with a chef who is used to working with that product in the kitchen.”

For Mazourek, while the lab is getting similar feedback, he looks to get contributions from chefs who consider something other than the flavor most people expect.

As an example, while working with tromboncino squash — a variety growers and chefs were excited to use — Dan Barber suggested checking and cooking the squash variety more like meat by brining and searing it to create a unique flavor. That experiment led to Mazourek checking all his squash varieties in a similar fashion.

“Though moments like those, they showed me what they were doing — and I wanted to know how I could do this better to work in the field and bring them back something,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to understanding what they’re doing for the presentation. What techniques are they applying, and what did they look for in the cultivars that met those? Just getting insight there to make me a better plant breeder — once they share their insight, then I’m going out into my field with a new vision.”

It's important to remember humans don’t just eat with their mouths. They also eat with their eyes.

“Sometimes the focus on flavor is becoming secondary to the way the plant looks — from the colors to the pigments — the consumer preference could be driven more visually rather than the flavor,” Goldman says.

Mazourek says that’s why, in addition to tasting every variety, he works to understand all the different components of a variety. Chefs aren’t just using them for taste — they’re working to use the plant in a new and unique way.

While there’s a lot in the background to working with chefs, Mazourek and Goldman are excited to see the relationship between plant breeders and chefs evolve in the future.

“Today, we’re doing more of what I’d call participatory plant breeding,” Goldman says. “Some of that is with chefs and other culinary professionals, but we’re also doing that in a lot of other ways with farmers. I believe that’s only going to be good for humanity, and that humanity is going to benefit.”

“Chefs are interested in new ingredients. They’re interested in the narratives, the backgrounds, the community and how they can support their local community,” Mazourek says. “There’s a great opportunity where chefs can be this fantastic ally and diversify what we have in the flavors to make local regions unique.”

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