Exactly one year following the release of one of the most talked about media stories in the Kootenays, Jon Steinman — the producer and host of Kootenay Co-op Radio’s Deconstructing Dinner, has been named a finalist for the Jack Webster Award in Community Reporting.
Celebrating its 25th year, the Jack Webster Awards are British Columbia’s most respected awards for journalism.
Making the cut was the September 2, 2010 story, “Local Food Fraud? An Investigation” — a one-hour episode which exposed the questionable practices of a Wynndel based business and federally registered egg grading station. Eggs R Uz had been marketing its eggs as free-range, antibiotic and hormone free and being a product of their own farm. The owners had also said they received a small contribution of eggs from nearby farms in the Creston Valley.
Turned out most of that wasn’t true. In late spring 2010, Steinman was tipped off by more than one source that the eggs being sold by Eggs R Uz were not from their farm, nor from the Creston Valley, and instead were being delivered from an unknown source in Alberta.
The property which housed the business happened to be up for sale at the time this was all unfolding, propelling Steinman to go undercover with video camera in hand and pose as a prospective homebuyer. The visit revealed that the “farm” was not a farm at all and no chickens were located anywhere on the property. The video evidence gathered in the home and business also showed dozens of large egg boxes from industrial producers in Alberta.
Only days after the story aired, Eggs R Uz closed its doors and surrendered their egg grading registration certificate to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Some might say the real story only began then, with attention becoming focused on the CFIA itself and what appeared to be pretty negligent inspection practices.
The Jack Webster Awards take place on October 24 in Vancouver. Steinman’s story is up against two other finalists; one from the Chilliwack Times and another from Whistler’s Pique Magazine.