Soy beans. Food, fuel … furniture?
This past weekend, at the International Home Show in Toronto, the Grain Farmers of Ontario presented a special display of furniture and other home decor items — the key ingredient of which is leftover grains.
“We have furniture made from soy-based foam,” says Meghan Burke, GFO communications coordinator. “It’s called BioPlush foam. We also have carpeting made from corn oil, and soy-based paint on the walls. We have a countertop made of corn. Anything you can think of, really, made from corn or soy beans.”
The furniture — including big, cushy reclining chairs — still has all the usual wood or metal components. But the foam in the cushions is something altogether new.
“It’s very nice and very comfortable,” she explains. “What we’re basically doing is replacing the petroleum-oil portion with a soy-based oil. So it’s just like any other foam, but is has no off-gassing, no allergens, it’s renewable, it’s decomposable, it’s really healthy for your environment.”
It’s a pure case of need meets opportunity. Agricultural organizations across Canada are always looking for new markets, and there’s a rising consumer demand for cleaner, greener products.
“We want to educate people about the options they have for their homes,” says Burke. “People are looking for greener, sustainable, healthy options for their homes. And with that trend growing and growing, more companies are picking this up. We have quite a list of suppliers that have given us products for the exhibit.”
And while the GFO’s efforts are primarily an Ontario initiative, building a new market for the province’s 28,000 corn, wheat and soy bean farmers, these special grain-based products are gaining in popularity, and becoming available throughout Canada.
“The carpeting you can buy at Home Depot, or anywhere you can buy a carpet. The paint is Sherwyn-Williams. All these things are fairly common at your typical home stores.”
The deeper message? Canada’s bountiful grain harvests can solve a lot more problems than hunger and fuel efficiency.
“There are opportunities for your home that are environmentally friendly, and they are great alternatives to your petroleum-based products.”