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Handpicked: Stories from the Field

Presented by the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, Handpicked: Stories from the Field is a podcast series that showcases research that drives positive change in our food systems—ways we produce, gather, eat, understand and dispose of our food. Produced and hosted by Amanda Di Battista and Laine Young, the series presents compelling, real-life stories of food practitioners, such as farmers, policymakers and activists. Episodes follow researchers and community partners in their efforts to make their food systems more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.

Apr 21, 2022

In this episode of Handpicked: Stories from the Field, we talked to Jamie-Lynne Varney, a master's student in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University (SFU) who prepared the recent report, “Right to Food Framework for Tackling Food Waste and Achieving a Just Circular Economy of Food in Vancouver, B.C.” This report was a collaboration between the Food Systems Lab at SFU and the Vancouver Economic Commission. The process brought together community experts from across the food system to uncover ways to make these food systems more sustainable by reframing food waste using a Right to Food approach. Using “Theory of Change” methodology, Jamie-Lynne and her colleagues identified existing challenges and opportunities in the food system and suggested possible interventions for creating pathways to a more just and circular food system in Vancouver.

Co-Producers & Hosts: Amanda Di Battista & Laine Young
Sound Design & Editing: Adedotun Babajide

Jamie-Lynne Varney

Support & Funding
Wilfrid Laurier University
The Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems
Balsillie School for International Affairs

Music Credits
Keenan Reimer-Watts
Adedotun Babajide

Moving Beyond Acknowledgments- LSPIRG
Whose Land
Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems
Right to Food Framework for Tackling Food Waste and Achieving a Just Circular Economy of Food in Vancouver, B.C. Report and Video
Food Systems Lab at SFU

Connect with Us:

Twitter: @Handpickedpodc 
Facebook: Handpicked Podcast

Glossary of Terms

Circular Economy

“In a circular economy, nothing is wasted. The circular economy retains and recovers as much value as possible from resources by reusing, repairing, refurbishing, remanufacturing, repurposing, or recycling products and materials. It’s about using valuable resources wisely, thinking about waste as a resource instead of a cost, and finding innovative ways to better the environment and the economy.”

Food Insecurity

Inadequate access to nutritional, safe and culturally appropriate food due to financial or other constraints.

Food Loss

“Food that gets spilled, spoilt or otherwise lost, or incurs reduction of quality and value during its process in the food supply chain before it reaches its final product stage. Food loss typically takes place at production, post-harvest, processing, and distribution stages in the food supply chain.”

Food Surplus

Food surplus occurs when the supply, availability and nutritional requirements of food exceeds the demand for it, and can take place at every stage of the supply chain from farms to households. Food surplus leads to either edible food and other products left unsold at supermarkets or restaurants, or piling up in farms and storages, ultimately resulting in food waste and loss.

Food surplus is not necessarily food waste, but rather a proxy for it. It can be defined as the step before food waste, where producers and consumers consciously and actively discard food.”

Food Waste

“Food that completes the food supply chain up to a final product, of good quality and fit for consumption, but still doesn't get consumed because it is discarded, whether or not after it is left to spoil or expire. Food waste typically (but not exclusively) takes place at retail and consumption stages in the food supply chain.”

Regenerative Foodscapes

6 principles: “1) Acknowledging and including diverse forms of knowing and being 2) Taking care of people, animals, and the planet 3) Moving beyond capitalist approaches 4) Commoning the food system 5) Promoting accountable innovations 6) Long-term planning and rural–urban relations”

Right to Food Framework

“The right to food is the right to have unrestricted access to sufficient quantities of food that fulfil physical, spiritual, and cultural needs, produced in ways that support the rights and labour of workers, and obtained in ways that promote dignity, reduce stress, and support social and psychological wellbeing.”

Supply Chain

A food supply chain is the path that food takes from production to consumption and eventually waste.

Theory of Change

Theory of Change is essentially a comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It is focused in particular on mapping out or “filling in” what has been described as the “missing middle” between what a program or change initiative does (its activities or interventions) and how these lead to desired goals being achieved.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the differences between food waste and food surplus? Why is the difference in language important for food charity that relies on surplus food? How might the use of those terms impact the people accessing food charities?
  2. What are some differences you notice between a charity model of food access and a Right to Food framework? How might a Right to Food framework impact current charity models that imagine the redistribution of food waste as a key solution to food insecurity?
  3. After hearing about the work done in Vancouver, what changes do you think could be made in your own city regarding food waste and equity?
  4. What are some ways you think that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted food access and equity?
  5. Choose a processed food that typically follows a linear food supply chain (e.g., beer) and consider what might need to change for this product to be part of a more circular economy and to reduce food loss.