UBC Undergraduate Research

Climate-Friendly Food at UBC : Best Practices and Policy Recommendations Liu, Emily; Keeley, Emily; Bissonnette, Daniel; Lee, Patricia


Problem Statement: UBC has developed a climate action plan to address their role in the progression of climate change. However, a key component of their role, in food production, has been largely unexplored. This project aims to develop a framework of evaluation and definition of climate friendly food (CFF) to establish a vision and actionable steps towards more environmentally friendly food systems, as well as raise awareness of climate friendly food via an end of term event. Methods: The methods for this project were broken down into a theory and best practice literature review, and stakeholder interviews. Our secondary research method included a theory and best practice literature review that was conducted to see the current state of CFF field and possible principles and practices that could be adopted at UBC. Additionally, our primary research method included interviewing stakeholders (n=7) to assess their perceptions of CFFs at UBC, the food system as a whole, as well as the feasibility of certain actionable steps towards a CFF system. We also surveyed student perception (n=80) using a dotmocracy at our CFF event. Outcome: Based on extensive research, as well as key stakeholder interviews and community feedback, a polished, working definition and framework for CFF was drafted, and a vision and set of actionable steps to fulfill this framework was developed, as well as increased awareness and dialogue regarding UBC’s food system’s role in Climate Change and CAP 2020. Based on our stakeholder interviews, we observed that the main strengths from UBC’s current food system are outlets choosing Ocean Wise and Fair Trade products. We also observed that the largest concern in implementing CFF food are the financial costs and student concern surrounding higher food prices. Additionally, based on student surveys and perception as to what a CFF definition and framework entails, we observed that the top 3 items of importance for students are: shifting towards a vegetarian/vegan diet (25.8%), reducing waste generated during food production and consumption (21.6%) and choosing items that are local/seasonal (18.6%). We were able to raise awareness and dialogue of a climate friendly UBC food system as a result of our CFF event that showcased our project outputs. On March 26th 2019, we were able to host an engaging, thought provoking event that was student centered, which sparked discourse and provoked action amongst UBC students and faculty. Lastly, in terms of short term goals, we recommend adopting practices to target waste management, such as the addition of a universal campus reusable to go container program. As for long term goals, we recommend the implementation of carbon cost pricing in order for prices to reflect the emissions food products give off to improve customer choices. Future areas of research include interviewing other areas on UBC campus, such as catering companies and independent outlets in order to obtain a more comprehensive overview of our current food system. 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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