Concordia students are food sustainability leaders
Creating a campus that is self-sufficient and sustainable when it comes to food is at the core of the research being conducted by Erik Chevrier, a part-time sociology and anthropology professor at Concordia.
As part of his multidisciplinary Ph.D. in humanities from the center for interdisciplinary studies in society and culture (CISSC), Chevrier has launched the Concordia Student-Run Food Groups Research Project.
The action-based project aims to examine the food-related initiatives created by Concordia students, and to strengthen food sovereignty on campus—what he defines as the ability of students, staff and faculty to control their own food processes.
“What I’ve realized is that the students are making major headway when it comes to building their own food entities,” says Chevrier about his research. “They are producing food on campus, they are distributing food on campus, they host educational conferences—there is quite a bit going on.” Some examples of food entities are the Concordia greenhouse, the Concordia farmers’ market and People’s Potato.
One of Chevrier’s major outputs of the project thus far was the creation of a map of the student-run food system at Concordia. The map breaks down the food producers, processors, distributors, waste management groups and support groups on campus.
The project also includes an online video archive of in-depth interviews with the different Concordia student food groups, which will later be edited into a documentary.
“I am very proud of where the students have brought the food initiatives to this point,” says Chevrier. “Just by me going to different campuses across Canada, I’ve noticed that Concordia students have really built an intricate network over and above what I’ve seen everywhere else.”
To present his findings from the first phase of the project, Chevrier held an “Idea Café.” There, students met to discuss campus food sovereignty and brainstormed other food entities that could be initiated at Concordia. A second edition will be held in the winter term.
“We have what I call a mini-lab of groups that are functioning in a community fashion,” he says. “Hopefully we could look at this as a model and try to emulate the good things that are happening and encourage other communities and campuses to do the same thing.”
Chevrier encourages professors from other related disciplines to expose students to the idea of a food-sovereign campus. In his Food and Culture class this past term, a handful of students got involved with Vermicompost, a group focused on setting up a vermicomposting system at Concordia, where worms are used to compost food.
“I think the classroom is an amazing way to engage students into looking at the bigger picture, to get them to do projects that will hopefully make an impact on the community and on campus at large,” he says.
Concordia to host food conference
In November 2018, Concordia University and the Concordia Food Coalition will be hosting the Food Secure Canada’s assembly, a national conference dedicated to discussing issues related to food, such as sustainability and equity.
Chevrier says he is thrilled Concordia has the opportunity to host the conference, which will involve various workshops and talks.
“Concordia is quite progressive in the way that the students have put together some pretty amazing initiatives on campus,” says Chevrier. “I think it would be great to show other people that are interested in campus food sovereignty what students at Concordia have been doing.”
The Concordia Student-Run Food Groups Research Project accepts interns and contributors to assist with research and related tasks. Visit www.concordiafoodgroups.ca for more information about the project.
· Erik Chevrier’s biography: http://erikchevrier.ca
· Concordia department of sociology & anthropology: https://www.concordia.ca/artsci/sociology-anthropology.html
· Center for interdisciplinary studies in society and culture: http://www.concordia.ca/artsci/cissc.html
· Concordia student-run food groups research project: www.concordiafoodgroups.ca
· Strategic Direction: Get your hands dirty: https://www.concordia.ca/about/strategic-directions/9-directions/get-your-hands-dirty.html