Oscar-winning film director James Cameron is expanding his empire and you might be surprised to find out where.
On Monday, the Hollywood heavyweight and his wife Suzy Amis Cameron were in Vanscoy, southwest of Saskatoon, where the couple has made an investment in a new facility in the hopes of making the world a better place – one bite at a time.
Cameron, who is best known as the man behind blockbusters such as Avatar and Titanic, is also extremely passionate about plant-based foods.
So what better place than Saskatchewan for the couple to increase their organic operations than the global heart of pulse production.
“I believe that you do well by doing good at the same time,” James said.
For three years, Verdient Foods has been in the making and is anticipated to be fully operational the first week of October.
“We all know that eating more plants and eating more plant protein is not only healthier for our bodies but it’s healthier for the planet,” Suzy added.
The facility will employ up to 40 people and sources its materials from nearby farmers.
Verdient Foods, a 160,000 metric-tonne facility, is expected to be the largest organic pea protein fractionation facility in North America.
“The demand for organic pea protein is going up, I think, 50 per cent, year over year,” James remarked.
Since 1987, pea acreage in the province has gone up 600 per cent. In 2015, pulse exports in Saskatchewan were valued at $3.8 billion, triple what they were in 2007.
“Saskatchewan has the chance given the acreage that’s here and all of agriculture including our cattle industry, we have the chance to answer a lot of questions and do it in a way that puts high priority on standards and public safety and other attendant issues that have been issued here today so I think it’s an all of the above approach,” Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said.
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After Wall raved about meat-less ginger beef he had tried with the couple the night before, it does raise questions as to whether the operation is anti-beef.
While James Cameron might not agree with animal agriculture, he also said he was just using his dollars wisely to match consumer demand.
“It really just makes sound business sense, yes, we eat 100 per cent plant-based diet and that has influenced our view of things and we look for ways to apply our particular philosophy to a business strategy.”
There is no word on the exact cost of the facility only that the Cameron’s are estimated to have invested tens of millions of dollars.
The Cameron’s also announced a four-year research contract with the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre (Food Centre) to develop value-added organic food products that will use the plant’s products.
“We are working with Saskatchewan farmers through the Verdient Foods processing facility and the Food Centre to integrate food production with new value-added products,” James Cameron added.
The Camerons said one reason they chose Saskatchewan for the plant is that the province has some of the healthiest soil on the planet.
They added that they are dedicated to working with Saskatchewan farmers in a mentorship program.
The program will be developed to provide a structure for keeping younger generations of producers engaged in organic farming while maintaining profitability.