Social Science Research Network Lists Food and Agriculture: The Future of Sustainability in Top 10

By Caitlin Aylward

Social Science Research Network recently listed a paper co-authored by Daniele Giovannuci, Sara Scherr, Charlotte Hebebrand, Julie Shapiro, Jeffrey Milder, Keith Wheeler, and Nourishing the Planet’s project  director, Danielle Nierenberg, entitled “Food and Agriculture: the Future of Sustainability” as a Top Ten Download for the Sustainability Research & Policy Network.

A UNDESA report on food and agriculture has made the Social Science Research Network's top ten list. (Image credit: UNDESA)

The paper, commissioned by the United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs, highlights vital and up-to-date information on the current and likely trends of our global food and agriculture systems.

Click here to read the full article.

Caitlin Aylward is a research intern for the Nourishing the Planet project.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

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Citywatch: Japan’s Earthquake

By Wayne Roberts

Citywatch: Whether it’s action or traction in the food world, cities are stepping up to the plate. The world is fast going urban, as are challenges of social, economic and environmental well-being. Citywatch is crucial to Worldwatch. Wayne Roberts, retired manager of the world-renowned Toronto Food Policy Council, has his eye out for the future of food in the city. Click here to read more from Wayne.

The world is still reeling and shaking from afterthoughts of what happened in March, 2011 when Japan was hit by a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, which exposed how vulnerable all basic institutions have become when Nature acts up—something bound to happen anywhere or anytime in this era of climate change and global transmission of hard-to-treat infectious diseases.

The aftermath of Japan's 2011 earthquake. (Photo credit:

Lessons from a tsunami are a terrible thing to waste, so last week, the Food Policy Research Initiative based at University of Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health hosted a symposium of Japanese food and agricultural experts and Toronto public health leaders to survey what others can learn from Japan’s response to the crisis.

Crises can provoke multiple breakdowns in government institutions and practices, keynote speaker Yoko Niiyama of Kyoto University told the crowd, so crisis preparation and management cannot just be about damage control.

The violent earthquake and tsunami killed over 15,000 people and destroyed or damaged some 400,000 buildings in short order, said Niiyama, who has helped design government communication strategies. But the longer-lasting human aftershocks included everything from destruction of prime agricultural land from salted ocean water, to a nuclear horror show and release of radioactive radiation, to widespread mistrust of government information, especially as relates to the safety of the food supply.

Both the mistrust of government officials and move to transparency and engagement were “quite revolutionary for Japan,” she said. People didn’t accept being treated as consumers, and insisted as citizens that they wanted information allowing them to make their own decisions.

Picking up that thread, keynote commentator Blake Poland of the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health argued that all regions need to take advantage of today’s calm before the storm to develop legislation requiring full public disclosure and decision-sharing in governing emergencies. Such legislation needs to open up possibilities to move beyond simply reverting to the old order once the emergency was over, he said.

For me, Poland’s suggestion made me realize all the advantages Japan had going into the crisis, almost all absent across North America. The law has to require many measures of emergency preparedness that could be started now. Almost none of the right stuff can be brought into being overnight after the emergency.

Most of the things that went well during the Japanese crisis were the result of longstanding social practices, not short-term government responses. Japan is famous for its strong sense of social cohesion and disciplined commitment to collective well-being. This isn’t just cultural, argues Richard Wilkinson of The Spirit Level fame, but a product of longstanding practices promoting equity. Japan has its one per cent, but its top 20 per cent of earners only enjoy four times the income of the bottom 20 per cent (compared to 6 in Canada and 8 in the US), and it’s that rough equality that supports the team spirit and collaboration so important in a crisis.

Japan’s food system is also advantaged by personalized and cooperative relations. Rice itself, unlike wheat and corn, grows best on small family farms that are spread across the country.  Rice paddies flourish at the doorstep of Tokyo’s airport, for example. A widespread gift-based system (enkomi) centers on gifts of rice to family members and friends, says Kyoto agriculture professor Motoki Akitsu .

An informal friendship (teikei) system features the most powerful cooperative movement in the world. About a fifth of Japanese households belong to one of almost two million co-ops. In 1965, co-ops launched what North Americans call Community Supported Agriculture, which sell fresh produce to millions of families.

Women lead most co-ops and also run almost 17,000 small-scale food processing and direct sales companies which flourish at over 16,000 farmers markets across Japan. These have flourished thanks to the relative isolation of Japan’s mountainous areas,  says Sumiko Abe, chief scientist at Rural Women Empowerment and Life Improvement Association, allowing women entrepreneurs to “act as a catalyst” for mid-range suppliers, strongly committed to serving customers as friends. The teikei system is called “farming with a human face,” and women-led direct trade companies are called “life-protecting business.”

The prevalence of such a community-based short-circuited farming, processing, and retailing ethic sustained trust that bolstered calm during periods of acute concern over food contamination during radioactive releases from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.

Most unusual by Canadian standards, the government’s ag department backs urban as well as rural producers, as well as local and regional foods. Almost every region has a hot of specialties, Kyoto, where most symposium speakers come from, boasts 41 specialty vegetables unique to the area. Since 2008, the ag department pushed for half the calories eaten in Japan to be grown or fished in Japan, and now encourages local shopping as a measure to share in the burdens of post-quake reconstruction.

If such relationships weren’t embedded in society well before the earthquake and tsunami, I believe, the natural disaster could have produced a social and health disaster. The irony of successful Japanese emergency response in the worst of times, I thought as I left this symposium, is the preparation built into the system that works in the best of times. “These things don’t just come out of the blue of an unengaged population,” says Poland.

In public health lingo, such measures are called “creating enabling and supportive environments.”  Indifference to that empowerment agenda may just be the explanation for why such measures aren’t on the North American government to-do list.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

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The Last Hunger Season

Today, our friend Roger Thurow, senior fellow for Global Agriculture and Food Policy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, releases his new book, The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change.

The Last Hunger Season, by Roger Thurow, is now on sale. (Image credit:

The book is an intimate portrait of the lives of four smallholder farmers in western Kenya who are working with One Acre Fund to move from subsistence farming to sustainable farming, from farming to live to farming to make a living.

To order the book, click here or visit

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New UCS Report: Improve Crop Insurance and Credit Availability

 By Jameson Spivack

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the biggest obstacles in the way of achieving healthier eating in the United States are the current farming laws. In its latest report, “Ensuring the Harvest: Crop Insurance and Credit for a Healthy Farm and Food Future,” UCS recommends reforming policies that make it more difficult for farmers to grow healthy crops like fruits and vegetables.

A new UCS report urges more financial incentives for farmers to grow healthy fruits and vegetables. (Image credit: UCS)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s new dietary guideline, “MyPlate,” states that 50 percent of our diets should be comprised of fruits and vegetables. But Americans don’t consume enough of either—instead, American consumers eat large amounts of refined grains, sugars, meat, and fat. In fact, according to the UCS report, only two percent of U.S. farmland is used to grow fruits and vegetables.

The major reason for this, says the UCS, is because of farm policy. Currently, farmers are financially discouraged from planting healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, and instead opt for subsidized commodity crops like corn and soybeans. These crops mostly end up as inputs for meat production, processed foods, and non-food products. In addition, laws prevent subsidized commodity crop farmers from planting fruits and vegetables, and these laws are supported by large fruit and vegetable producers who wish to keep prices high.

The USDA typically only offers crop insurance to farmers who grow commodity crops. Since there is limited data on “healthy food” crops, it is harder to develop an insurance policy. While there is a pilot program—“whole-farm-revenue insurance,” which offers insurance to farmers growing fruits and vegetables—it is expensive and limited to certain geographical areas.

Difficult access to insurance, says the UCS, discourages farmers from growing healthy crops. Farming is a risky business, with unpredictable weather and fluctuating market prices, and not having crop insurance during a poor season can devastate a farmer’s livelihood. Not having insurance also makes it more difficult to receive credit, since investors are less likely to invest in a farm that isn’t protected by insurance. This makes it substantially more difficult for farmers who grow fruits and vegetables to survive, discouraging their production in the first place.

There are three policy changes the UCS recommends for encouraging more farmers to grow healthy crops. First, they suggest promoting planting flexibility and removing barriers in subsidy programs that prevent farmers from planting fruits and vegetables. Second, they urge Congress and the USDA to create an effective federal healthy-food crop insurance policy that is available to farmers all across the country. Finally, they recommend expanding micro-lending programs to encourage small-scale, local farming.

If we improve insurance and credit accessibility for healthy-food farmers, says the UCS, it is possible to encourage farmers to grow fruits and vegetables. This will in turn increase the availability of healthy food options for consumers.

What other reforms will help encourage farmers to plant fruits and vegetables? Comment below!

Jameson Spivack is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

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Five Microcredit Programs That are Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

By Isaac Hopkins

One of the best ways to encourage economic growth in poor areas is to provide affordable small loans to farmers and small-business owners. Called microcredit or microloans, these programs can inject capital into communities that lack the collateral required by conventional banks.

Ecova Mali’s first microgrant went to Fatoumata Dembele, to buy vegetable seeds for her village. (Photo credit: Ecova Mali)

Today, Nourishing the Planet introduces five innovative microcredit programs that are encouraging economic growth in poor communities.

1. Farmer-to-Farmer Programs: Microcredit programs tend to be most sustainable when they promote cooperation between residents of a community. Encouraging farmer-to-farmer support can be an effective technique because it allows participants to be less reliant on outside financing and guidance.

Farmer-to-Farmer Programs in Action:  When Africa’s Sustainable Development Council (ASUDEC) connects farmers with microcredit loans, the recipients have several expectations placed upon them. ASUDEC requires farmers to not only pay back the loans, but also to offer equally affordable loans to their neighbors. This policy generates a ripple effect, helping communities increase their incomes and fund their own progress, rather than relying on ASUDEC. As the trust and cooperation between farmers builds, it “helps the poor transition from subsistence to entrepreneurship,” says ASUDEC’S Director, Dr. Salibo Some.

2. Integrated Economic Support:  While gaining access to affordable lines of credit is an important step for poor farmers, it isn’t always enough to provide real financial stability. Some microcredit programs go beyond small loans and offer many services such as connections to markets, supply regulation, and savings accounts.

Integrated Economic Support in Action:  BRAC, formerly Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, started its microfinance program in 1974 in Bangladesh, and now provides asset- and referral-free microloans to impoverished people in 16 countries. The largest development organization in the world, BRAC’s aim is to “use microfinance groups as a social platform to deliver scaled-up services in health, education, business development and livelihood support.” They provide specialized loans (US$50-700) and training for young women, and larger loans (US$700-7000) to existing small enterprises. All of these loans come with access to a range of services, including savings, technical assistance, and marketing. Over 99 percent of BRAC’s 7 million borrowers pay back their loans on time.

3. Training Centers:  Without the necessary knowledge and training, many farmers who receive microloans would struggle to increase their production and pay back loans. Most microcredit programs, therefore, link their loans with training and education on up-to-date techniques and practices.

Training Centers in ActionEcova Mali was started in 2007 in order to provide grassroots development in Mali. The two main thrusts of their program are providing farmers with training in sustainable agriculture, and offering microfinancing (loans and grants) to help farmers start environmentally and socially responsible enterprises. They have a permanent training facility in Mali, where local experts teach their fellow Malians new techniques, such as using natural fertilizers, aquaculture, and biogas,  and explain why they are preferable to traditional methods. Once they receive the education, the farmers may be offered loans or grants to get started on their own eco-friendly, profitable farms.

4. Health Information Programs:  The history of microcredit programs is not spotless. Financiers have occasionally preyed upon the poor, profiting substantially from microloans. And sometimes loans have proven to be ineffective at delivering immediate relief and aid. One tactic employed by some programs is to link loans directly with health information and care.

Health Information Programs in Action:  The Microcredit Summit Campaign was originally launched in 1997 in Washington, DC, as an international effort to bring access to credit to millions of the world’s poorest people, especially women. One important facet of their mission is to work with a network of trainers to reach “over half a million microfinance clients in eighteen countries with life-saving health education lessons.”  This is crucial to combat insufficient knowledge of nutrition, sanitation, HIV/AIDS, and many other health-related issues. The Campaign is specifically trying to establish self-sustaining education systems through microloans which are independent of donor support.

5. Individual Investors:  Sometimes NGOs and governments fail to provide services where and when they are needed. Dedicated individuals, however, can contribute immeasurably to their communities by utilizing and encouraging microfinancing and partnerships that build trust and cooperation.

Individual Investors in ActionDinnah Kapiza, an agrodealer in Malawi, lost her husband in 1999, and she responded by taking a training course in business that came with a microloan. She used that money to start a new agro-dealership, Tisaiwale Trading, which sells agricultural supplies, such as seeds and tools, to roughly 3,000 nearby farmers in Malawi. Her business is flourishing, providing affordable supplies and technical training on how to best use them, and she is working to connect women’s groups to their own microcredit.

To read more about each of these microcredit programs, follow these links: Farmer to Farmer Programs, Integrated Economic Support, Training Centers, Health Information Programs, Individual Investors.

Isaac Hopkins is a research intern with Nourishing the Planet.

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

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Co-ops Transform Business as Usual

The Thai restaurant chain, Cabbages and Condoms, shocks most of its clientele at first. According to Community Food Enterprise, the posters on the walls at the twelve restaurants across Thailand display various prophylactics. Beneath the glass-topped dining tables are rows of multi-colored condoms. And condoms can be found in lamps and vases, appearing as ‘condom-mints,’ and in warnings, which state that the restaurant’s food ‘is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy.’ Clearly, the restaurant supports access to birth control.

Cabbages and Condoms restaurant billboard; Photo via Flickr, by QSimple

Yet, Cabbages and Condoms is just one of Mechai Viravaidya’s initiatives. Viravaidya founded the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), the largest NGO in Thailand. Viravaidya believes that local people are the best suited to make positive and lasting change in their communities, therefore, PDA’s programs enforce that message. Through grassroots programs that include “extensive villager involvement,” PDA has helped to significantly lower Thailand’s growth rate from 3.2% to 1%.The future of sustainable prosperity lies largely in the hands of social enterprises like this one.

In fact, the United Nations (UN) has named 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives, placing them in the spotlight, as a leader for sustainable development. Cooperatives are critical business models that have prevented communities from falling into poverty in these difficult economic times. The designated Year of the Co-ops has three main objectives: increase awareness of co-ops, promote growth of co-operative communities for socio-economic empowerment, and establish policies that are conducive to co-op formation.

According to the International Co-operative Alliance, more than 1 billion people in 96 countries belong to a co-op. Co-ops are democratically governed by their members, who are also investors. Co-ops are especially powerful in developing countries because they allow members to use collective bargaining to improve the financial terms of trade for their goods and purchases. In turn, this allows co-op members to become more financially independent and self-sufficient. The success of co-ops has led to their growing number, in Uganda for example, between 1995 and 2008,  the number of co-ops increased by 13 times.

Tour of the Coffee Cooperative, Photo via Flickr: UN Women Gallery

According to the International Co-operative Information Center, co-ops are vital to a healthy society. Due to the equality of members and emphasis on participation, they encourage democratic processes and social equity. Additionally, as economic organizations, co-ops provide their members with commercial services; as grass-roots institutions, co-ops reflect their communities’ concerns, such as social justice and the health of the environment.

Co-operatives allow widespread participation and encourage individuals to raise guide the development of their communities. Whether the movement for a sustainable future comes in the form of a condom-themed eatery in the midst of Bangkok, or a micro-finance organization in a small village in Africa, co-ops and social enterprise have the power to transform the business as usual.


(Written by Nina Keehan, Edited by Antonia Sohns)

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Senna obtusifolia: From the Sidelines to Center Stage

By Philip Newell

Senna obtusifolia (or Cassia obtusifolia) is a hardy and indigenous leafy vegetable (ILV) that grows in the Sahel. To better understand it, The International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Africa (ICRISAT) studied the plant to determine the best planting density and preparation techniques, as well as its potential cultivation among Acacia trees.

ICRISAT is helping farmers perfect indigenous crops on less-than-ideal soil. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

ICRISAT’s research found that this protein-rich vegetable, which is used as a meat substitute, grows well at a high density. Using three different planting densities (.5x.5m, .5 x 1m and 1x1m), they found that the highest density resulted in the highest per-acre harvest weight – meaning that it is not highly competitive for water or nutrients. Generally the plant is grown by women around the edges of maize or millet fields. According to ICRISAT, concentrated, intentional planting can result in a significant harvest during the “hunger period.” This period is the months, generally June-October, when farmers have exhausted their store of grain and money, leading to the threat of starvation.

While it is common to collect wild Senna obtusifolia during the hunger period, the cultivation of this crop is not widespread. The leafy quality of the plant means that harvests can be small and ongoing, leaving the plant to continually grow new leaves. While women may sow this crop along the edges of the field or in other marginal land, the scaling up of production is seen as a potential way to increase food security at a low cost.

The study also looked into the nutritional effects of the traditional cooking method for Senna obtusifolia. They found that the traditional three-hour boil serves to not only reduce the pungent odor of the leaves, but also increased the concentration of lignin and did not adversely affect the other nutrient concentrations.

Interestingly, ICRISAT found that planting Senna with young Acacia trees improved yields substantially. This improvement was not replicated with mature Acacia trees, where light and water competition significantly reduced Senna yields. This research has provided an added degree of sustainability to Acacia production, since Senna can be grown during the five years it takes for Acacia to mature. This provides the farmer with both food and a potential source of revenue while his Acacia crop is still young.

This is only the first of many studies required to scale up production of Senna obtusifolia from a marginal subsistence vegetable to a major source of income. Its hardy qualities and nutritious nature have this plant poised to fill stomachs during the hunger period.

Do you know of any wild-growing plants that could be used as a food source? Tell us about your wild edibles in the comment section!

Philip Newell is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

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In Canada, New Innovation Helps Nourish the Needy

By Graham Salinger

With more people living in cities than ever before—the United Nations projects that up to 65 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050—cities are relying on a number of innovations to boost food security. Meanwhile, the price of food in urban areas remains higher than that of rural areas. With food purchases taking up to 80 percent of a typical urban family’s income, the need for sustainable urban agriculture is clear. In the wake of recent shocks to food prices and the current economic downturns, urban dwellers are finding it harder and harder to find affordable, healthy food.

A patron purchases some fresh fruit from a Fruixi cart. (Photo credit:

In Montreal, Canada, a pilot program is underway to bring healthy vegetables and fruits to downtown residents. This summer, small carts called Fruixi  are delivering locally grown produce to people who lack access to grocery stores. The carts, which are mounted on three-wheeled bikes, were developed by Université de Montréal student Guillaume Darnajou. Six of the Fruixi carts deliver food to parks in Ville-Marie and Plateau Mont-Royal, areas in which residents may otherwise not be able to get fresh fruits and vegetables. The carts will also visit three hospitals – Hôtel-Dieu, Saint-Luc and Notre-Dame.

This innovation underscores the role that increased vegetable production should play in food security. Vitamin-rich vegetables are an important part of a diet, especially for the undernourished. They are also easier to produce than staple crops. Small-scale farmers can also make more money growing vegetables than other crops, demonstrating that local food movements, like the ones encouraged by the Fruixis program, also help to stimulate  local economies.

Innovations in sub-Saharan Africa are also helping people eat local. In Senegal, women farmers are switching back to traditional varieties of fruit, including karkadè, pain de singe, tamarindo, and ditakh that they process into value-added products, such as juices and jam. And in Kenya, farmers are being trained to bring themselves out of poverty by growing local produce and using local seed and fertilizer.

By focusing on local crops and switching away from monoculture crops, including maize, wheat, soybeans, and rice, countries in sub-Saharan Africa are investing in developing their local agricultural economy in a way that makes them less vulnerable to price shocks like the ones that took place in 2007 and 2008. Innovations like those taking place in Africa and Montreal are instrumental to food security in the future.

To read more about local food movements, see: Dishing up new ideas in Davos: What a Greenmarket chef has to do with hunger, From Their Backyard to Ours: A New Model for Sustainable Local Food Production? and Innovation of the Week: Using Small Businesses to Create Local Markets

Graham Salinger is a research intern for the Nourishing the Planet project.

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

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Eating Planet Featured in the Guardian

Check out this column on the Guardian’s website, reviewing the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition’s new book, Eating PlanetNutrition Today: A Challenge for Mankind and for the Planet.

The Guardian describes Eating Planet as a “useful resource that focuses on important issues confronting humanity: food production and availability…from what I’ve seen, it’s well-written, is filled with colour photographs and lovely colour diagrammes, tables and charts, and lots of interesting (and concerning!) information.”

Click here to read the full article.

To purchase Eating Planet from or iTunes, click here.

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Innovation of the Week: Student Program Connects Consumers to the Food System Process

By Graham Salinger

In 2009, the average distance that a granny smith apple traveled to get to McGill University in Quebec, Canada, was nearly 3,542 miles. Meanwhile, the dining halls serve approximately 2,500 meals a day. While students may not know where their food comes from, a 2009-2010 survey that was conducted by McGill’s Food and Dining Services, revealed that 80 percent of students believe environmental practices are important to food systems.

The McGill Food Systems Project implements student-led research into sustainable food options. (Photo credit:

In an effort to increase  the amount of food that is sourced locally, students at McGill University established The McGill Food Systems Project (MFSP). The project, which began in 2009, engages students in the food system process by supporting student-led applied research that helps the University establish best practices for purchasing sustainable food. Collaborating with professors, the McGill Food and Dining Services, and the McGill Office of Sustainability, students conduct research and implement projects that help inform the University about the source of its food.

“The objective of these actions is to transition our food supply to more sustainable and local sources,” explains Laura Rhodes, co-founder of MFSP along with Jonathan Glencross.  “We want to build a capacity to meaningfully assess what is or isn’t sustainable food. Our role is to communicate in the sense of building capacity to make sustainable choices,” notes Rhodes, who is currently in charge of making sustainable food purchases for McGill’s dining services.

The centerpiece of the MFSP is getting dining halls to buy food from local suppliers. McGill’s local food sources include Ferme Desmarais, a 35-acre certified organic vegetable farm in Quebec, and the McGill Farmers Market. MFSP also provides support for the Macdonald Campus Farm, a certified organic farm that is operated by McGill’s School of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. With McGill’s renewed focus on sustainability, Macdonald Campus Farm  is now McGill’s primary supplier of fruits and vegetables and currently operates its own dairy farm, orchard, and sugar house.

MFSP also worked with McGill’s Food and Dining services in implementing sustainable food purchasing guidelines. These guidelines include, serving only sustainable sea food in accordance with  SeaChoice’s standards, baking only with Québec Vrai organic flour and locally milled grains, and purchasing only free-range eggs sourced from Quebec. This fall, students will be supplied with even more locally sourced meals because McGill is partnering with Local Food Plus (LFP), a Canadian-based non-profit that certifies local food producers as sustainable, to supply McGill with food from LFP certified farms.

Many of the projects that MFSP takes on result from student-based research that assesses McGill’s food sources and proposes ways to become more sustainable.  Students then work with dining services  to implement these strategies. The sustainable seafood guidelines were formed following student research that took place last fall.  The students work with dining services to make sustainable purchasing decisions by identifying sellers that practice sustainable methods of harvesting seafood or fishing.

The School’s Meatless Monday campaign, which was inspired by the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health iniative to create awareness about the environmental and public health benefits of eating less meat, was also implemented as a result of student research. That research focused on finding ways to increase vegetarian and vegan options on campus.

While MFSP has received some criticism because the price of food has gone up, the executive chef for McGill’s dining services, Oliver de Volpi, believes that students will continue to have an appetite for sustainability. “We’re going to be something that I hope other universities are going to look at as a model,” Mr. de Volpi says. “I hope people are going to look at us and say, that’s something to be proud of.”

By involving students in the food system process, The McGill Food Systems Project helps students gain a better understanding of where their food comes from and gives them the opportunity to be responsible for sustainable food purchasing choices.

Do you know of any other ways that Universities are increasing the sustainability of their food sources? Let us know in the comments section! 

Graham Salinger is a research intern for the Nourishing the Planet project.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

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