The McGill Food Systems Project is a collaborative initiative between Students, Professors, McGill Food and Dining Services, and the McGill Office of Sustainability.
Using student research, community engagement, and stakeholder collaboration, we work to maximize the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of the food systems of McGill’s downtown campus. Our goal is to get members of the campus, regional community, and food supply chain working together create a food system they can be proud to eat from.
The McGill Food Systems Project wishes to acknowledge the Students Society of McGill University for their generous funding.
Food is inherently tied to the most important economic, ecological, and social justice issues of our time. The McGill Food Systems Project believes that out of the myriad of global problems we are faced with, food sustainability stands out as having the widest and most tangible appeal to, and impact upon, individuals. Not only does it clearly demonstrate the global impact of our choices, it is universally relevant because regardless of ecological awareness, social group, and political orientation, everybody needs to eat.
What is a Food System?
A food system is the full cycle by which sustenance is produced, transported, stored, consumed and returned to the environment. McGill has control over its food systems both directly through its food preparation and consumption patterns, including waste disposal and byproduct recovery, and indirectly through its purchasing policies and the food-related technology it develops in research.
What is Our Vision?
You sit down to eat at a cafeteria on campus. Before the food even reaches your plate, it has a story. What if that story took place entirely on campus? The menu has been set by a group of Nutrition and Dietetics students, who rigorously researched a healthy, seasonal and delicious combination of foods for you to choose from. All of the fresh produce was grown at the Macdonald Campus Farm, or at an urban garden on the Downtown Campus - living examples of agricultural systems in harmony with their natural local surroundings which were studied by agricultural, environment and urban planning students alike. The stalks were used to provide energy to the greenhouse, and the preparation waste was composted on site for the next growing season. Every step of the process was intentional, efficient, and sustainable.
Not only was the food grown and consumed at McGill, its cultivation contributed to the academic development of the students who helped produce it.
So a “culture of sustainability” is…
If the end result is a system that students and professors are excited to study, staff and administrators are enthusiastic to run, and all campus members are proud to eat from, then we have succeeded in creating a culture of sustainability at McGill.
How do we get there?
The coordination, research and community engagement required to transform the long and complex supply chain that provides the majority of food on campus is within reach if all actors work together. All that is missing is the group to drive the collaboration and initiate the change. We – the McGill Food Systems Project – are working to be that group.
Building Sustainable Food Systems at McGill [pdf], the product of a semester of community consultation and cooperative design, lays out the mandate, objectives, and strategies of the McGill Food Systems Project.