UofG Sustainability


From Field to Fork

Imagine a student in crop science. In the morning, they’re monitoring potential crop yield on a test plot. In the afternoon, they’re in the research lab examining the role of microbes in improving soil health.

Their research is specialized but their mission connects them to a broader set of values and culture at U of G: to improve life. They share this mission with peers, and faculty comprised of some of the foremost experts in agriculture and plant/animal sciences. As they are busy finding ways to sustainably feed the world, Hospitality Services is working with local suppliers, committing to sourcing food from sustainable sources, and developing and using best practices at all stages to feed a hungry campus.

This is how Hospitality Services is feeding Canada’s Food University…

Thinking Globally, Eating and Sourcing Locally

The University of Guelph has the best campus food in Canada. You said so. And Maclean’s annual student satisfaction survey reported it. With a deep connection to food and a commitment to preparing it with local, sustainable ingredients, is it any surprise that U of G is a model for campus dining? 

Produce, cheese, bread, grains and baked goods served on campus are purchased year-round from more than 75 local farmers at the Elmira Produce Auction Cooperative (EPAC). At the 100 Mile Grille in Creelman Hall, everything from the meat, to produce, to condiments are sourced from within a 100-mile radius of campus. Creelman Bake Shop, which provides many products served on our catering menus and at residence dining halls, bakes with Ontario flour and uses Ontario grains that are certified organic. 

Local and sustainable is how we’ve always served food at U of G. Not only is it food that’s good for you, it’s food that’s good for the planet.

Campus Grown

An apiculture research student spreads a bit of honey on their toast before class. It’s from one of the 300 hives at U of G’s Honey Bee Research Centre. When they’re done, they are off to study honey bee health and the role of honey bees in agricultural productivity.

The Honey Bee Research Centre is one of the foremost research centres in the world. Since 2012, only U of G produced honey is used and sold on campus. 

The Guelph Urban Organic Farm (GCUOF) is a one-hectare learning and research facility established by the Ontario Agricultural College in the Department of Plant Agriculture. Hospitality Services buys the produce and flowers they grow to serve to hungry students, faculty and staff on campus.

The Alma Aquaculture Research Station (AARS) is a state-of-the-art aquaculture research and development facility which has successfully introduced Atlantic salmon, Arctic char and new strains of rainbow trout to the Ontario aquaculture industry. Hospitality services uses Ocean Wise certified Arctic char from AARS for special events and is working towards 100% sustainable seafood for all seafood purchases.

We know that a linear food system doesn’t work if we’re going to meet the challenges of a changing climate. These are just a few examples of how committed partnerships, innovative practices and a shared promise to improve the sustainability of food production is defining us as leaders. 

Greener Choices: Plant-Based Food Options

As Canada’s food university, we’re not sitting down to lunch without careful consideration of what we consume. Hospitality Services has joined the international Forward Food campaign, which encourages and enables the catering industry to shift the focus of menus to include more plant-based food to make the global food system more sustainable. On campus, Hospitality Services is working to move 20% of meat protein to plant-based proteins. Already, plant-based food choices are vast and growing. For example, 27 different vegetarian buddha bowls are offered on campus. We’re resetting the table to protect the future of the planet; at breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Food That’s Good for People and the Planet

Our commitment to protect the planet only stands up if we stand up for the people we share it with. U of G is the first Fair Trade Certified Campus east of the Rocky Mountains, third in Canada after Simon Fraser and UBC. All of the coffee and tea served at non-franchise locations on campus is fair trade-certified. Hospitality Services is committed to having all chocolate, chocolate beverages and chocolate ingredients be Fair Trade Certified over the next few years.

365 Days of Local

If you’ve ever wondered if local tastes better, sit down for a meal on campus at U of G. Nothing on your plate will have traveled too far. Our Produce Facility ensures that’s the case year-round. Prepping, packaging and freezing local produce during harvest season means 1,200 pounds of local asparagus can be used throughout the off-season in DIY pasta bars, soups and quiches. It means carrot soup in late February and strawberry rhubarb pie in early Spring. It means reduced greenhouse gas emissions and support for rural economies. It means high Canadian food safety standards, evolved in part by U of G research, are upheld. The Produce Facility allows purchasing in volumes great enough to reduce the cost and ultimately benefit the customer. These are just a few of the benefits of sourcing local. We don’t do it because we’re uniquely able to, we do it because it’s the right thing to do.

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