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Hey People, Try Our Canaryseed!

The Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan seeks human food status for its crop. It wants to branch out from the birdseed market.

By far the majority of producer levy money collected on canaryseed sales is going to fund the New Uses Project. This effort by the Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan (CDCS) is to develop human food uses for the crop. Producer money is being matched by funding from the ACAAFS program.

Dr. Carol Ann Patterson of The Pathfinders Research and Management Ltd. of Saskatoon spearheads the project. She is managing the numerous individual projects to detail the compositional and nutritional attributes of canaryseed and to experiment with it in various food products and applications.

Although the crop has long been used primarily as bird feed, Dr. Patterson has found some history of human food uses. In some countries, it’s known by its Spanish name, alpiste, and is consumed in various food products. However, to actually get human food status in North America, government approvals are required and to do that, a wide range of data is required.

The project also has a marketing side to see where canaryseed might fit into the food system. Can it be a replacement for sesame seeds? Might companies want to add it to their baking mixes? Does it have any specific health attributes?

The current varieties of canaryseed have a grey-coloured seed coat when the hull is removed. Pierre Hucl of the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre has lines with a yellow seed coat. Much of the testing is taking place with these new lines since the colour is more pleasing for food uses.

By early in 2011, most of the project results should be compiled. The canaryseed checkoff is $1.75 per tonne, deducted by the grain buyer and submitted.

Thanks to Kevin Hursh, executive director of the Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan, for sending in this article. Would you like to write about an exciting project your organization is funding with checkoff dollars? See page 2 for our contact information.

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