Category: Blog

The Concordia Food System – Lets change what’s on our plates!

-Ankit Kumar, Social Media and Content Creation Intern

 

The Prevalent Food System at Concordia University

Currently, most of the food system at Concordia is controlled by one company – Aramark – that holds an exclusivity contract with the Concordia University. Aramark, besides being a costly option for students (their resident meal plan itself costs a whopping $4100 for a year), is not transparent regarding the sustainability of their food production.This cycle of outsourcing food at Concordia to multinationals that are removed from the day to day realities of student life, whether it be through Sodexo, Aramark or Chartwells, is overbearing the food landscape at Concordia now.

The million-dollar questions that arises is: Why should students settle for an expensive multinational food provider when they can run it themselves and provide affordable food within a socially and environmentally conscious framework?

 

Sustainability issues with the current food system at Concordia

There are a lot of sustainability issues that are concerned with growing food in our society –

  • One of the major problems with the current norm is that it sources its food from thousands of miles away, practically from the other side of the globe. According to a research conducted by Development and Foods Canada, the food in an average Canadian meal travels 3000 kilometres to get to your table. This not only needlessly removes many from the local economy, but also increases Concordia’s carbon footprint. Much of the food is grown on monocrop industrial farms, which rely heavily on chemical pesticides and herbicides to grow (often genetically modified) crops. In 2011, Statistics Canada reported that 69% of Canadian crop farms applied herbicides, 15% employed insecticides and 23% used fungicides. These pesticides get mixed with the water and the earth and have disastrous effects on our health.
  • Secondly, the meat and dairy products tend to come from inhuman meat processing plants which often use dangerous and questionable practices. Also, the prevailing multinational corporate model relies on the constant exploitation of workers and if we turn to our own backyard, we will see that we have the same problems related to migrant exploitation here in the province of Quebec. This article in the McGill Daily further elaborates on the plight of migrant workers in Quebec.
  • The current food system forces Concordia students who want to live in the university residence to buy an expensive meal plan, without a clear possibility of opting out or using their meal plan money somewhere else, like at a student run café or restaurant. In this light, it’s clear that the food system is specifically organized not to serve the interests of students as stakeholders, but to directly serve the interests of investors as shareholders.

 

The Solution – Student-Run Initiatives

As students, we can work together, stand up for what we believe in and redesign the way we want to feed our campus. Some of the benefits of student run food initiatives are:

  • Student initiatives prioritize accessibility by providing affordable, vegan-friendly and gluten free options, as well as Kosher and Halal foods.
  • These spaces also feature locally sourced foods, from as close to the Montreal area as possible. Given the opportunity, students are more likely to source their food from organic farms with environmentally friendly practices. To cite an example, the Concordia Farmers Market is a student-run initiative which offers a collection of goodies to the university community — seasonal vegetables, honey, tea, bread, meat — all locally produced and organic.
  • A cooperative model provides living wages for students and community members alike, while working with farms that provide fair and dignified working conditions for their workers. The Hive Café – located at the heart of Concordia University’s Loyola Campus and Downtown campus, is one such solidarity co-op that provides healthy, affordable, and locally produced food options, while highlighting sustainable practices, employing dignified working conditions for suppliers and worker-members alike, nurturing a community-run space, and fostering an alternative food system.

For those who are genuinely interested in changing the food system at Concordia University and are passionate about food, they can choose to pursue food-related courses at Concordia University. You can find the list of courses here.

Imagining the Future!

It is high time that we start building the world that we want to see, and it starts here, on campus. In Concordia University, in the not-so-distant future, it would be beneficial for everyone if most of the food services are student-run.

Concordia Transitions, which will be happening next weekend, Feb 2-4th, is an annual student conference where the focus is on urban agriculture, alternative economics and the massive potential for change within the Concordia Food system. In February, students, faculty, social entrepreneurs, local change-makers, and activists come together to share knowledge and food, and collaborate around how to build a food-system that answers directly to the needs of the Concordia University community – students, workers, teachers, the farmers we depend on, and our community at large.

Negotiating, if not completely withdrawing the contract of Aramark, while making it much more favorable towards students and student-run food providers, are the high hopes of student-led food organizations for the upcoming years. Building a strong alternative food model at Concordia can also inspire and foster change in other universities around the city and the country.

But, it starts with us and it’s happening right now. Let’s change what’s on our plates!

Let’s move the date – Alternative food systems on campus

On August 2nd 2017, it was Overshoot Day: we had used more ecological resources than nature can regenerate in one year.
Moving the date can start by changing systems locally. Here is our first advice on how, at Concordia.

And it’s about food of course!

 

Consuming food locally helps reducing one’s carbon footprint greatly and supports local economy. If that food is organic, then it also protects the fauna and flora (and human beings!) in contact with it. Besides, eating very little to no meat and dairy products is a lot healthier both for us and the planet.

Adapting your diet and changing where your food comes from is not that simple nor that accessible. However, at Concordia, several student groups and resources aim to make eating healthy and locally easier.

The Concordia farmer’s market brings local produce directly to students by organizing markets every Wednesday, in the fall and winters semesters, on both campuses.
Also, many groups offer alternatives to global brands delivering ready-made food. The Hive Cafe Solidarity Co-op is present on both campuses, in the H building mezzanine and in  to serve beverages and meals all day. Cafe X, a student-run cafe in the EV and VA buildings, also provides students with homemade snacks. On Thursday evenings, Mother Hubbard offers 2$ vegan suppers. Last but certainly not least, People’s potato and the Hive Free Lunch serve free lunches every week day starting in September, in the H building 7th floor and at The Hive Loyola from 12:30 to 2pm.

These marvellous food initiatives are vegetarian or vegan, and their recipes can be found on most of their websites (People’s Potato’s cookbooks are extensive!).
To support them in making healthy local food more accessible to all Concordia students, you can start by using their services, talking about it around you and volunteering when you have the chance!

Let’s #movethedate and live a sustainable lifestyle by 2050! We can do it, together and by first changing systems locally!

 

Details on location and times for all services can be found here 

For more in-depth information on food groups at Concordia and healthy eating, you can visit or contact our friends at The Concordia Food Coalition.

Topic Tuesdays

Sustainability overseas: the case of European Utilities companies

Hey friends   !

As you all know, sustainability is a very inclusive topic (I mean…climate change doesn’t choose which countries to disturb right?). As such, it is important to pay attention to environment related news from all around the world; unless you believe that global warming is a hoax and having an excess of 5°c in winter is completely normal.

Today, we’ll explore the utilities industry in Europe…why? Well, ≈19 billion Canadian dollars of earnings are at risk if Europe’s major companies don’t change their production processes by 2050. This implies, inter alia, less revenue for European governments, less potential jobs and less budgets to support sustainable enterprise. Despite the EU’s objective to “provide 45 percent of electricity from renewables by 2030“, the 14 leading companies in the European utilities industry are expected to produce amounts of greenhouse gases that will exceed the “‘carbon budget’ required to keep temperature rises below 2°C“, by 14%. If you want to learn more about these numbers and their implications in the global assessment of carbon emissions, make sure you check out Sustainable Brands article!

iAdiós amigos! 

Thoughtful Thursday

“Are You Making The Healthiest Lifestyle Choices?”

Today is #ThoughtfulThursday and our friend Helen Sanders has this simple question for you: “Are You Making The Healthiest Lifestyle Choices?”  Unless you’re a 100% certified lifestyle guru that graduated from the 100% healthy lifestyle academy, your answer is most likely no… and people like Helen are here to help us accept our mistakes and guide us in this challenging journey that is living a healthy lifestyle. Her nutrition advice is based on her expertise and, more importantly, on YOUR personal tastes. So make sure you check out her blog for well documented health recommendations and innovative techniques to help you sustain your lifestyle choices! If you prefer more personal and adjusted guidance, don’t worry: Helen and her team will adapt to your objectives to supply you with complementary tips and guidance. Join the #HealthAmbition community NOW and make your first step towards #StayingHealthy!!! ——> https://www.healthambition.com
#HealthIsWealth #SoundsClichéButTRUE #LifeChoices #OneStepAtATime

sustainable sundays

The Dish Project

When hosting an event, meeting and other form of gathering, why create waste? Using the Dish Project guarantees that your event will reduce its waste by using reusable dishes opposed to disposable. In the process you will also be making Montreal a more sustainable city. They rent out to both on and off campus communities in reducing waste – one paper plate at a time.

Check them out on Facebook too!

Topic Tuesdays

Social Entrepreneurship and Social Impact Careers

Hey everyone,

In collaboration with District 3 (D3), CHNGR, Alumni Relations and CAPS they will be  are hosting a panel discussion on Social Entrepreneurship and Social Impact Careers on Wednesday, Nov 16th @ 3pm in H-763.  At 5pm, District 3 will be hosting a design thinking activity, for students and entrepreneurs to work together in finding solutions for challenges organizations face today

Alumni entrepreneurs and professionals will be hosting a panel discussion on ways in which you can be part of an organization that is solving social or environmental problems, or even start your own business.

check out the links below.

District 3

CHNGR

Alumni Relations

 

rethink waste

Zero waste cafes and making our lives greener

It was brought to our attention that there are some pretty cool recycling initiatives in our very own neighbourhood. Green ta vie was founded by Bianca Bernard a Concordia graduate and Erika Roy a Sherbrooke graduate. Their mission is to educate people on how to make life on blue planet greener, through light jokes via text and video and images. Their first video is on recycling and what actually happens at a recycling plant.

The second initiative is Le 5ieme. Le 5ieme is a co-working zero waste cafe space founded by Simon and Dorian who are also students! At night the co-working space will transform into an event space, art gallery, dance studio, conference space, the space will even be a barber shop, massage therapy and more! They plan on opening late September early October! Check out their video here.

Lets all show these cool initiatives some support by spreading the word 🙂

Topic Tuesdays

Job opportunities!!!

Hey everyone! Want to get involved within Concordia’s sustainable community this school year? The Sustainability Action Fund (SAF) is looking for new Board of Directors. For those of you who don’t know the SAF fee-levy organization that allows Concordia University students to develop high impact sustainability projects at Concordia University; by providing funding, support and resources. As a board member one must  commit to one 3 hour general meeting per month, members will also participate on at least one committee, meeting at least once per month before general meeting, and more. The deadline to apply is September 11th. Click here for more information.

Another amazing opportunity this year is the opening of Sustainable Concordia’s Financial coordinator position.The Finance coordinator is responsible for overseeing the financial operations at Sustainable Concordia. The coordinator works in conjunction with the Finance committee, the Board of Directors, and other Coordinators within the organization. In addition, the Finance Coordinator is encouraged and will be presented with opportunities to collaborate with other Concordia student organizations who may need assistance with financial matters as they arise. The deadline to apply is September 11th. Click here for more information. 

Look forward to hearing from you! 🙂

rethink waste

Mumbai’s Waste Issue and Initiative

More than 62 million tons of waste is produced in India every year and only 12 million of it is treated. The rest sadly ends up in wetlands, streams, lakes and rivers. However the waste management industry is expected to be worth $13.62 billion by 2025. “Debartha Banerjee, Jayanth S and Ritwik Rao are the cofounders of environment solutions startup Sampurn(e)arth.” Their initiative provides effective technology for waste management in Mumbai; the city produces 9,400 tons of waste every day, and only 3,000 tons of it is processed. The trio promote a “decentralized approach to waste segregation, recycling dry waste and installing biogas plants to transform wet waste into cooking gas and fertilizer in the city.” To find out more about this amazing start up click right here!