The University as a site for challenging conventional food geographies: the case of sustainability in food services at Queen’s University

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Bryan, Julia Annette
Sustainability , Sustainable Best Practice , Institutional Purchasing , Food Systems , Local Food
In this thesis, I examine the factors that influence the introduction of sustainable practice into university food services. There is a growing body of evidence documenting the ecological impact of the conventional agro-food system. Therefore, understanding how institutional practice either enables or hinders sustainable or ‘alternative’ food practice is critical because institutional food services could serve as a potential site for challenging conventional food geographies. Drawing upon a case study approach, my thesis explores the food service environment at Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada. Two smaller, less detailed food service cases studies (the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto) are used to compare the factors and indicators that determine how sustainability is incorporated into food services. Given the geographical variability within University institutions, I argue that university food services are a contested political space and an important site for challenging conventional food systems. They are also places to test alternative, more sustainable models. I outline some key variables that are currently preventing Queen’s University from moving toward a more sustainable food service model. Furthermore, I discuss the implications of this research for the alternative food geography literature.
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