UBC Undergraduate Research

The sustainability of the UBC Food System : Collaborative Project III : food mileage Asada, Yuka; Condon, Kathleen; Jackson, Glenda; Lee, Sandy; McMillan, Erin; Smith, Andrew; Wone, Lysa


It has been determined by Group 6 in the UBC Food System Collaborative Project of 2004 that the current diagnosis of the UBC Food System is one of unsustainability. Consumers in this food system do not currently view foodstuffs here on campus as affordable or nutritious and the necessary information describing the nutritional aspects of food processed here on campus is absent. More underlying to this unsustainability, is the fact that most of this UBC community does not have adequate awareness of UBC’s sustainability initiative. At the root of this unsustainability in the food system, is the management of waste and the efficiency of composting and recycling programs, as well as the excessive mileage that food has traveled to get here to UBC. This lack of environmental responsibility has prompted the formation of the UBC Food System collaborative project, which, since its inception in 2001 has placed incredible pressure on increasing the sustainability of this UBC Food System. Most of the ideals and initiatives responsible for this action here at UBC have been driven by the members of the AGSC 450 – Land, Food and Community student body. This year is no different and Group 6, through a weakly-anthropocentric paradigm, and the evaluation of past groups’ achievements, has provided the stakeholders in this UBC Food System with several social, economic, and ecological indicators that will serve to catalyze positive initiatives here on campus, which will drive this food system closer to sustainability. These indicators include the accessibility of affordable and culturally-appropriate foodstuffs, as well as the distance food travels in regards to its environmental costs, thus illuminating the true cost of food to the eye of the consumer. Food mileage could be measured using Weighted Average Source Distancing, including CO₂ emissions and freshness into this food mileage assessment. By emphasizing the impacts of increased distancing of food from the consumer, Group 6 has provided solutions in the form of food mileage labeling, alternative food purchasing, and consumer awareness programs as a means of illuminating the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality that currently plagues the UBC Food System, which serves as a microcosm of the global food system. Through this UBC Food System Collaborative Project, Group 6 has exemplified the vision of UBC’s Sustainable Food System initiative and provided the stakeholders with the tools needed to expedite our progress towards sustainability. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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