UBC Undergraduate Research

The sustainability of the UBC Food System : Collaborative Project II Forbes, Chad; Smith, Kerry; Wong, Tony; Jones, Lara; Quan, Vincent; Lu, Leslie; Cant, Meghann


With regards to sustainability, the UBC Food System is suspected by some as being in a state of crisis. In response, the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, UBC Campus Sustainability Office, UBC SEEDS program, AMS Food and Beverage Department, and UBC Food Services are collaborating to bring about change. However, before any changes can be suggested and implemented, some indication must be given of the severity of this crisis. To this end, we have been assigned the task of developing a model to assess the sustainability of the System. We begin by providing a definition of the problem and outlining how our value assumptions influence this definition. We also define sustainability. Then we conceptualize what is meant by a sustainable and an unsustainable System and describe the continuum between the two. We provide a map of the System that identifies its boundaries, components, interactions, goals, and linkages to local, regional, national, and global food systems. We then propose three significant indicators to measure the sustainability of the System and describe them in detail. For an ecological indicator, we recommend the food mileage of produce at UBC. We suggest awareness of nutritious foods among students, staff, faculty, and residents at UBC as a social indicator. The cost of nutritious food on campus is presented as an economic indicator. Finally, using all of this information, we create and explain a “Sustainability Master Metre” on which the sustainability of the UBC Food System can be measured and the severity of the crisis evaluated. 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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