• Sustainable foods: You may be eating more sustainably than you think!

    Opinion | Sustainable Diets for the Future – Food Tank

    By: Thurkkha Thayalalingam

    Sustainable diets are defined as “diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations” (Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO]). Some recommendations from FAO on how to have a sustainable diet include plant-based diets, reducing food waste, sustainable fish consumption, and reducing red meat consumption (FAO).  

    You may already know that eating organic food is healthier and sustainable. However, here are some other foods that you can incorporate into your diet to be more sustainable! 


    Bison and cattle both emit methane, however bison can be a more sustainable alternative to beef as they have a lower overall environmental impact. Often known as “ecosystem engineers”, bison cause less erosion damage, and their grazing encourages plant regrowth that provides a constant food supply (Geremia et al., 2019). Additionally, bison are much more nutritious as they contain less fat and provide more protein, iron and B vitamins (Richards, 2023).  


    Pulses such as beans, peas, and lentils are also healthy and sustainable additions to any diet. They require minimal resources and are a great source of protein, making them a good plant-based alternative to meat products (Tidaker et al., 2021). 


    Seaweed gets all the resources it needs to grow from the water around it, not requiring any fertilizers. It also filters excess phosphorous and nitrogen from the water, reducing the impacts of agricultural runoff (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] Fisheries). Seaweed also plays an important role in storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (NOAA Fisheries). The health benefits of consuming seaweed as well as the ecosystem services it provides make it an excellent sustainable food option. 


    While many seafood products tend to have significant environmental impacts, mussels can be produced quite sustainably. Harvesting mussels doesn’t result in a lot of by-catch or ecosystem damage in comparison to other seafoods (Suplicy, 2018). They use carbon dioxide from the ocean to grow their shells, helping to reduce greenhouse gases in the water (Suplicy, 2018). Mussels also happen to have a high protein content! 


    Mushrooms can be grown in vertical growing facilities, allowing for a high yield in a relatively small space. They use soil made of composted agricultural materials to grow and this soil can then be used for other purposes such as potting soil (Mushroom Council). Since mushrooms are grown indoors, their energy and water consumption can be easily controlled by farmers (American Mushroom Institute). 

    Leafy Greens

    Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and lettuce can grow abundantly as long as they have enough soil and water. Leafy greens can be grown easily indoors and are a common vegetable in indoor vertical farms (Buehler and Junge, 2016). 


    Buehler, D. & Junge, R. (2016). Global Trend and Current Status of Commercial Urban Rooftop Farming. Sustainable Agriculture, 8(11), 1108.  

    Geremia, C., Merkle, J.A., Eacker, D.R., & Kauffman, M.J. (2019). Migrating Bison Engineer the Green Wave. Biological Sciences, 116(51), 25707-25713.  

    Richards, L. (2023). Bison vs. Beef: Differences in Cholesterol. Retrieved May 16, 2023, from  

    Suplicy, F.M. (2018). A Review of the Multiple Benefits of Mussel Farming. (2018). Reviews in Aquaculture, 12(1), 204-223.  

    Tidaker, P., Potter, H.K., Carlsson G., & Roos, E. (2021). Towards Sustainable Consumption of Legumes: How Origin, Processing and Transport Affect the Environmental Impact of Pulses. Sustainable Production and Consumption, 27, 496-508. 

    Categories: Food, Student Contributor

  • Understanding Organic Food Consumption

    By: Sanjida Amin

    Our food choices have a significant impact on our health and the health of the planet. Buying organic and locally grown produce, when possible, is a great way to reduce the impact our food choices can have on the environment.  According to research, support for organic food has grown recently not only for its perceived health advantages over conventional agriculture, but also for the ethical production process, which considers the sustainable usage of resources and integrates techniques that preserve the ecological balance of natural systems. Let us explore what organically grown produce is, what the benefits are, and how we can identify organic products. 

    What is organic? 

    Since the 1970s, intensive agricultural production techniques and unsustainable consumption habits have been increasing at an unprecedented rate, causing pollution of the air, water, and soil, as well as significantly accelerating climate change and the extinction of species (IPCC, 2022). The current overuse of fertilisers, herbicides, and antibiotics in livestock and aquaculture threatens the environment and human health and has significant socioeconomic consequences. In contrast to this, organic food practices, restricts the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilisers and adheres to high standards for animal care to reduce the suffering of livestock due to their detrimental effects on the environment. Canada organic standards requires that organic food meets a specific set of requirements, such as avoidance of genetic engineering, minimum use of chemicals in pesticides and soil management techniques, and regulated livestock diet and care. Any agricultural product with an organic label is subject to these standards, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, meat, fish, rice, cereals, and even some natural fabrics.  

    Benefits of having organic produce in your diet 

    • Foods that are organic are often fresher that non-organic produce, especially if purchased from a local produce stand or farmer’s market. Organic options will also often provide a better cooking and dining experience, as they tend to have more flavour. Check out this post to learn more about buying locally. 
    • Organic foods contain lower levels of potentially toxic substances. When you choose organic, you are opting out of using chemical pesticides and mineral fertilizers for your food, which is harmful both for the environment and your health. It depletes the soil nutrition required for fruits and vegetables.  
    • Organic produce may even be healthier, since it carries more of certain antioxidants and nutritional properties. Certain nutrients may be more abundant in some organic food items, like organic meat and milk. According to the findings of this study, the amounts of several nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50% higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally farmed versions. 

    Recognizing the right product 

    Unfortunately, certified organic produce may not be readily available in all areas and stores, and they also tend to be more expensive. To be certified as organic in Canada, the food must include 95% or more, organic ingredients. Organic items are regulated under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR). Therefore, when you want to buy organic, you can look for the Canada organic logo and know that your food has been regulated properly and all organic standards have been met. Additionally, you can check out the shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce to learn which produces contains the highest or lowest level of pesticides. Lastly, if organic food is not readily available, look for foods with additional labels that indicate sustainability and/or ethical production.   

    By taking steps to improve our food choices, we can not only enhance our personal health, but also play a significant role in influencing our agricultural practices towards greater sustainability. It is important to recognize that not everyone may have access or the means to purchase organic foods. While it is beneficial to support practices that improve the sustainability of our food systems, it is more important to know that even taking small steps such as informing yourself about these practices makes a difference! No matter how big or small your actions may seem, every action towards greater sustainability is a step in the right direction.

    Categories: Food, Student Contributor

  • Let’s incorporate sustainability into our food choices!

    By: Sanjida Amin

    Fresh produce displayed in reusable bags.

    Worldwide food production and consumption are related to major ecological impacts and environmental degradation that we are facing, such as severe water pollution, air pollution, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, loss of biodiversity and natural resources.  Sustainable food and agriculture is one of the significant elements required to achieve certain United Nations Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs). Several of the SDGs are directly being connected to consumption and food systems, including SDG 1- No Poverty, SDG 2 – Zero Hunger, SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-Being, and SDG 12- Responsible production and consumption.

    Since we all consume food every day multiple times each day, the foods we choose to eat may create opportunities for us to promote sustainability! Sustainable food consumption reflects our lifestyle by showing how as an individual can consume more responsibly, eat healthy, prevent food waste, encourage local buying and support community-oriented farming to help lower carbon footprint and contribute to the healthily eco-systems. Here is the list of few things that you may consider while shopping at the grocery store to consume sustainably:

    Buying seasonal foods: Purchase food items that are in-season which means eating the fruits, vegetables, and seeds that are naturally grown in abundance during a particular time of every year. Check this post to learn more about how you can buy local and sustainably.

    Opt for locally-produced items: Always check the Foodland Ontario guide for logos before purchasing and check out your local farmers market.

    Looking for sustainable alternatives: Try to choose a plant-based protein option instead of having an animal-based food for all of your dishes you enjoy or look for options with sustainable certifications. When you can, search for products which are organic, green and eco-friendly in nature.

    Reducing food waste: Take your immediate steps to reduce waste at home like having a leftover meal, shopping consciously (with a grocery list), storing food appropriately, and reminding yourself to utilize fresh produce before it spoils. Also don’t forget to compost your food scraps!

    Checking for eco label: Always look for the eco-labels or packaging information to understand the ingredients in the food you are consuming and see if the and if the food criteria such as Certified Organic or Fair Trade. Check this page to see how Brock University embraces Fair trade policy and to know where to find fair trade products at Brock University.

    Engage in gardening and share with your community: Nothing is fresher than picking your own garden produce. So engage yourself with harvesting and gardening. Visit here to learn more about Brock University seed library and information regarding seed availability, planting, and growing.

    Finally, we understand that achieving sustainable food systems are complex problem however, there are many innovative ways you can take action in your daily life to ensure you are eating a bit more sustainability. Keep in mind that that all the small actions we’re able to take individually add up to bigger changes, as our collective efforts in these different avenues are crucial for making an impact overall.

    Categories: Food, Student Contributor

  • Reducing Food Waste 101 

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Ruzgys

    Agriculture is one the most environmentally impactful industries in the world, from growing and production  to distribution and eventually waste. Over 1/3 of all of the food produced in the world is wasted (Food Loss and Food Waste, 2011), which is annually valued at $1 trillion dollars. All of the world’s hungry people could be fed on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, the UK, and Europe.  

    Over 25% of the worlds fresh water supply is used to grow food that is never eaten (Hall et al., 2009). If food waste were a country, it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China and the US. And most shockingly, in most developed countries over half of food waste happens at home, on the individual level. Therefore, reducing the amount of food that is wasted at home is one of the most impactful individual actions that we can take to reduce our carbon footprint and lead a more eco-conscious life. The following tips can help you reduce food waste in your own life:

    Store Food Correctly 

    The way you store food can impact the shelf life of the food and improper storage can lead to premature ripening and increased rotting. Here are some tips for proper food storage: 

    • Items that should not be refrigerated:  
    • Potatoes  
    • Tomatoes 
    • Garlic 
    • Cucumber 
    • Onions  
    • Ethylene gas promotes ripening in foods and can lead to early spoilage. The following foods release ethylene while ripening: 
    • Bananas 
    • Avocados 
    • Tomatoes  
    • Cantaloupes 
    • Peaches 
    • Pears 
    • Green Onions  
    • Some foods are more sensitive to ethylene than others. The following foods should never be stored with foods that release ethylene: 
    • Potatoes 
    • Apples 
    • Leafy green 
    • Berries 
    • Peppers  
    Understanding Expiration Dates  

    Food expiration dates are confusing and can lead to consumers throwing away food long before it is actually expired. So, what do they mean? 

    • “Sell by” is used to tell the retailers when the product should be sold by or removed from the shelves.  
    • “Best by” is the suggested date that consumers should use the product by (note that this date does not mean that the food is unsafe to eat or expired.  
    • “Use by” mean that the food may not be at its best quality past the date and is usually the best date to follow. 

    There is currently work being done to make expiration dates clearer to consumers, however, until then it is best to use your judgement and understand what different labelling terms mean! 

    De-clutter Your Fridge  

    An overly full or unorganized fridge can lead to food getting lost or forgotten and therefore wasted. Keeping your fridge organized helps you keep track of the food you have and can help you reduce your food waste. A great way to keep your fridge organized is by following the first in first out method. When you buy new food store it behind the food already in your fridge, which helps ensure that you eat the older food first.  

    Eat Leftovers 

    Leftovers can easily get lost and be forgotten in the back of the fridge, here are some tips for avoiding leftover waste: 

    • Store leftovers in clear rather than opaque containers so you can see what is in them. 
    • Plan out your meals and factor in leftovers to meal planning.  
    Don’t Overbuy 

    Buying more than you need can be a large contributor to food waste, with research showing that buying in bulk leads to more food waste. You can avoid overbuying food by making more frequent trips to the grocery store, especially for buying fresh produce. In addition, you can ask yourself, “have I used the food I bought from my last trip?” before you buy more. You can also try making lists before grocery shopping and sticking to it as this will help reduce impulse buys.  

    Buy Imperfect Produce 

    Many fruits and vegetables are thrown away simply because of their shape, size, or colour despite the fact that they are perfectly fine to eat. Choosing to buy these “imperfect” items at the grocery store can help stop these items from being wasted and thrown in the landfill.   


    As much as 50% of the garbage placed on the curb in Niagara is actually organic waste (i.e., food waste) and should be composted instead (Niagara Region – Public Works Committee, 2020). When organic material is thrown in the garbage instead of a compost bin, it ends up in a landfill. Organic material needs oxygen to break down and when it sits in a landfill, it cannot breakdown into the soil. Instead, organics sit in the landfill releasing methane gas which is a greenhouse gas that has roughly 28x the global warming potential of carbon (Methane, explained, 2019). Composting is so important because when you put your organics in a green bin, it is sent to a composting facility and is turned into valuable compost in only eight weeks! 


    Categories: Food, Student Contributor, Waste

  • How to Move Towards Zero-Waste Grocery Shopping 

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper 

    2019 was the year of exposing plastic waste and its effect on our environment all over the world.  Social media was littered with pictures and videos of shorelines and even animals covered in Ziplock or grocery bags, plastic bottles, six pack rings, straws and bottle caps to name a few.  Further, a report that was introduced at the World Economic Forum in January 2016 by Ellen MacArthur (British environmentalist) states that there will be more plastic than fish (by weight) by 2050.  Not surprisingly, much of the plastic seen abroad and on Canadian shorelines come from food packaging and grocery bags.  A simple way to eliminate this incredible amount of waste is to go grocery shopping in a zero-waste fashion because plastic-free packaging is in style! 

     Although the zero-waste “movement” can be daunting when you first look into it, it’s actually a lot easier than it seems when you have the right tools to be successful.  This blog post aims to be a guide to all things zero-waste and bulk shopping.  

     First things first, you need the right tools before you go out and make your first zero-waste trip: 

    • Reusable grocery bags 
    • Reusable produce bags (often overlooked, but very important!) 
    • Bulk containers such as mason jars  

     That’s it!  These three items will make your life much simpler and you’ll wonder why you’ve never tried this before.  Now, let’s go into a bit more detail. 

    Reusable grocery bags are pretty common in many Canadians’ lives, but there is still a percentage of people who either forget to bring them or do not bother with them whatsoever.  My tip is to keep bags in your car, in your purse and at the front door of your house or apartment so that you never forget them.  They are usually inexpensive and can be bought at most grocery stores or on sites like Amazon.  

    Reusable produce bags are a complete game changer.  They are usually made out of mesh or fabric and allow you to easily complete the produce part of your grocery trip without purchasing plastic.  Of course, there are exceptions and some fruits and vegetables come pre-wrapped in plastic (I’m looking at you, cucumbers!) but the important part is to do your best.  The zero-waste lifestyle is all about doing what you can with the stores and situations that you are presented with because there is only so much you can control as a shopper.   

    Bulk containers, such as mason jars, are great for purchasing all your pantry staples at stores like BulkBarn.  If you’ve never shopped in bulk before, this store will make you feel like a kid in a candy store.  Make sure to bring your containers to the checkout first to be weighed (the weight will be reduced from total cost at the end of your shopping spree).  Then take stroll through the aisles and choose from a variety of nuts, rice, oats, baking mixes, chocolate, candy, health foods and even nut butters.  Don’t forget to have a running list of the codes corresponding to each food item on your phone so that the employees checking you out can charge you accordingly.  Lastly, a great benefit of shopping in bulk is that you tend to save money and have less food waste because you buy exactly what you need instead of a pre-packaged amount. 

    As you can see, moving towards zero-waste grocery shopping doesn’t have to be overwhelming – it can actually be quite exciting!  Hopefully you feel inspired to begin eliminating unnecessary plastic from your grocery shopping routine and are looking forward to learning more about reducing waste in your life.  Please remember to be patient with yourself and to do your best whenever possible because moving towards being “zero-waste” is not about being perfect!  



    Categories: Food, Purchasing, Student Contributor, Sustainability, Waste

  • Brock launches Green 2 Go re-usable container program

    Brock Hospitality Services is, quite literally, going green.

    A new program aimed at diverting waste and making the food services at Brock more environmentally friendly launched Monday.

    Through the new Green 2 Go program, anyone purchasing food from Guernsey Market, The Hungry Badger in Walker Complex or either the DeCew or Lowenberger residence dining halls will have the option of using a re-usable plastic container.

    Initially, customers will have the option of having food servers put their food into one of the green 6”x9” containers. When they go to a cashier to pay, they’ll be charged an extra $5 fee for the container, which can then be taken anywhere by the customer. When they’re finished with it, the container can be returned dirty to any of the four participating dining areas, where they’ll receive a Green-2-Go card, which can be handed to a food server to get a new container.

    “In the past, we couldn’t do this because people had to clean the containers themselves,” said Iain Glass, Director of Hospitality Services. “Now, we can put these containers into our industrial dishwashers to be cleaned an sanitized.”

    The containers seal tightly so they won’t spill, and they keep food warm longer than a typical take-out container.

    Glass said they can be washed about 800 times before needing to be recycled and replaced with a new one.

    For now, only one type of container is being offered, but a screw-top soup container is also being developed and will be added if the program takes off.

    For more information on Brock’s sustainability initiatives or the Green 2 Go program, visit

    Story from The Brock News

    Categories: Food, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock, Waste