Is there pesticide in your spaghetti? Canada’s golden wheat reputation hangs on the outcome of a pasta war

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Our story begins in the middle of a wheat field, in the heart of Italy, in the comune, or municipality, of Monte San Pietrangeli, where there’s a pasta factory owned by Massimo Mancini, a son, and grandson of wheat farmers.

It’s a matter of pride for Mancini and his colleagues that they grow the durum wheat they use to make spaghetti, macaroni, and other noodles bound for sale in Italy and abroad, including in Canada. So his factory is actually in the middle of a field.

Mancini was explaining to me why he is so intent on working with his own semolina when he said something in passing about Canadian wheat that caught me by surprise. Over there, he said, referring to our immense country, they sometimes use pesticides in the fields right before harvest, which risks leaving residue in the grains. Do we really want to work with that kind of primary material?

The claim and the question caught me by surprise. I’d always believed Canadian one of the best in the world, that we were culinary peacekeepers, always ready to feed the planet thanks to the endless, golden fields of our Prairies.

I knew our oil industry was the butt of accusations by environmentalists, and that our treatment of First Nations was nothing to be proud of when it came to talk about Canada abroad. But our wheat? Really? This I had to investigate.





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