JGI Canada has launched a new initiative focused on sustainable food systems. Working with students at the elementary, high school and post-secondary levels, we’re connecting with youth to raise awareness about the impact of our eating habits.

For years, Dr. Jane Goodall has advocated for a more sustainable approach to growing and consuming food. Farming practices, food distribution, and the produce and meat that we consume all have a significant impact on our health and the health of the planet.

Through our Roots & Shoots program, we’re engaging students in three high schools in the Toronto area to co-design community projects that will lead to a more sustainable food system and reduce our carbon footprint.

Participants begin by identifying key issues – such as food waste or access to locally grown produce – through mapping the community. Students explore their school and neighbourhood to determine the challenge they want to address, then develop action projects for solutions.


Healthy food for people and planet

Supporting sustainable food systems is one of the most important actions each of us can take to help mitigate climate change.

Sustainable food systems begin on the farm when crops are grown and livestock are tended in ways that conserve the surrounding biodiversity.

Sustainability on the farm includes the humane treatment of animals and meeting organic farming standards where livestock are not given hormones or unnecessary antibiotic treatment.

Sustainable food minimizes the consumption of finite natural resources.

Sustainable food reduces the emission of greenhouse gases.

Why are our food choices so important?

 

Livestock produce 18% of global greenhouse gases. As much as 70% of agricultural land is used for grazing instead of growing crops; in addition, farmed animals consume 30% of the world’s fresh water.

The way it is currently practiced, industrial agriculture is a leading cause of disappearing habitat,  loss of biodiversity, and carbon emissions.

With a world population of more than 7 billion people, how we grow and consume food has never been more important and more impactful on the planet’s ecosystems.

Large-scale agricultural operations entail extensive deforestation to clear land for livestock – mostly cattle — or to plant monocrops such as corn or palm oil. Deforestation has caused wildlife to decline by 60% over the past 40 years.

 

Food Choices,  Climate Change and You

We can reduce our carbon footprint simply by eating more sustainably. Consumer choices can lead to more environmentally-friendly food production, and, ultimately, can change our food system to improve access to healthy food, support local farmers, and protect the natural world.


 

How can you eat more sustainably?

Reduce Food Waste
Go Organic
Choose Local & Seasonal
Eat Less Meat & Dairy
  • 58% of the food produced in Canada ends up in landfills. Much of that waste – 85% – is generated by the food industry;  consumers produce the rest.
  • Encourage your local grocery store to reduce its food waste through composting and offering “imperfect” fruit and vegetables.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time and only buy what you need. Leftovers can be used for another meal instead of being tossed out.
  • Organically grown crops are free of chemical pesticides and herbicides, which are harmful to wildlife and soil conditions.
  • Learn which crops are most resource-intensive and try to buy the organically grown variety.
  • Transporting food from around the world contributes to soaring carbon emissions. Shop at local farmers’ markets to purchase food grown near where you live and support local farmers in Canada.
  • Eating less meat – and less dairy – is the most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. Introduce Meatless Mondays in your household or eat plant-based meals for one week a month. You can also try one of the many tasty, plant-based options for milk, cheese, ice cream and yogurt.
  • Take a look at your school’s cafeteria menu and request more plant-based options.

Food for Thought

Download our sustainable food curriculum guide which explains how our food choices can have less impact on the environment. For educators, the curriculum guide provides activities, resources and action ideas for your students.

DOWNLOAD PDF


Waste Reduction campaign

After visiting students at several high schools, we collectively determined that the initial sustainable food systems effort will focus on reducing food loss. With the backing of student approval, we will launch the Waste Reduction campaign in Winter 2020. This campaign will be jointly led by teens across southern Ontario who will collectively build a healthier, more sustainable, future.


A Seat at the Table

Would you like to join the Sustainable Food movement? We are looking for 10 high schools in southern Ontario to join us! Tell us how your school can reduce its carbon footprint by tackling the issue of food waste. Participants will be asked to make a video of their projects. The winning submission will be professionally edited and shared widely.

Sign up for more information

Supported by the creators of

Markus Spiske / Unsplash, Roots and Shoots projects