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It’s estimated that the world population will grow to almost 10 billion by 2050, and as such, there will be a greater strain on the food system. This is why sustainable agriculture is becoming increasingly important to reduce climate change and promote food security in the long run.


Ironically, while agriculture is one of the primary industries sustaining human life, it's also a leading industry that puts a strain on the environment. From livestock farming to soil tilling, many factors in the agri-food sector contribute to the rise in greenhouse gas emissions.


Climate change leads to unfavourable farming conditions which jeopardize the efforts to feed a growing population. And while the effects of climate change span the globe, the communities feeling the effects most are often lower-income communities. These communities are often the lowest contributors to climate change.


In 2015, all the United Nations Member States adopted The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — this included 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) to help transform and encourage action in areas of concern impacting both people and the planet.

SDG2 and SDG13 -- zero hunger and climate action, respectively -- are the two focal points outlined in FAO’s Work on Climate Change guidebook.


Various researchers at U of G are studying this food-climate change intersection and are actively working to promote sustainable agriculture for a more food secure future.


Dr. Claudia Wagner-Riddle
In 2019, School of Environmental Science professor, Dr. Claudia Wagner-Riddle’s “Climate-smart soils” project was awarded $1.65 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. This project aims to optimize and preserve soil health and to further enhance food production. Most of the world’s food is produced on soils, and with the rising population, sustainable farming methods are becoming more critical. The Climate-Smart Soils program encourages widespread knowledge of soil health for students interested in pursuing a career related to environmental conservation and sustainable agriculture. The funding for this project has allowed a consortium of professors at the University of Guelph to offer courses related to soil ecosystems, sustainable agriculture and climate-smart soil practices. 



Dr. Christine Baes

A University of Guelph Dairy expert Dr. Christine Baes is well known for her research to reduce methane gas production in dairy cattle through a genome selection project. Cows release methane into the atmosphere through burping, and while it’s a natural process, some cows are naturally less gassy. Baes’ research focuses primarily on selectively breeding cattle that normally produce lower methane.



Muck Crops Research Station

The Muck Crops Research station is located in the Holland Marsh area and is rich in loose organic soil, known as muck, that remains after draining swamp or marshland. The loose nature of the soil allows for greater growth. Various professors at the research station focus their studies on optimizing awareness about sustainable agriculture, with an added focus on crop protection.


A landscape of open sky and a tilled field, with agricultural equipment and storage off to the right side

An open field at the Muck Crops Research Station.

(Photo credit: Mya Kidson)




Supporting Information:

1. United Nations. (2019). World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights. https://population.un.org/wpp/Publications/Files/WPP2019_10KeyFindings.pdf

2. United Nations. (n.d.). The 17 Goals. https://sdgs.un.org/goals

3. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2018). FAO's Work on Climate Change. http://www.fao.org/3/CA2607EN/ca2607en.pdf



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The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified reducing the amount of meat in our diets as a key step toward decreasing the greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change. However, this is easier said than done. In Western society, most of us are used to eating meat with every meal. And although enough calories are technically being produced to feed everyone on earth a full diet, not enough fruits and vegetables are being produced to feed everyone a healthy diet. As consumers, we can have an effect on this pattern by increasing demand for more healthy foods, but this does not necesarily mean sacrificing flavour!


Vegetables are a very important part of our diet that provide us with the nutrients we need to stay healthy. These include potassium, fiber, folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and many more. Sometimes it’s a challenge to figure out how to include more vegetables in our diets. In today’s post I’m going to be sharing some easy and delicious ways to up your intakes.


Eating Seasonally


Eating seasonally is a method that is very beneficial in many ways. Firstly, when eating seasonally foods are fresher. This means better taste and a longer shelf life. Also, since these vegetables are in season, they are less expensive for farms to distribute. This means they are cheaper for you to buy. Eating seasonally also naturally provides you with a good variety of different vegetables. This variety ensures you get an array of different vitamins and minerals to keep your diet balanced. See the link at the end of the post for a list of seasonal vegetables in Ontario.




In many dishes it is easy to swap certain ingredients out.


  • Noodles can be swapped with spiralized vegetables
  • Mushrooms can be a good alternative to ground meat
  • Swap mild tasting veggies for some fruit in your smoothie
    • Good options include spinach, kale and avocado
  • Try swapping out a bun with a lettuce wrap

You can add veggies to almost anything, so get creative!


Cooking Methods


Sometimes we only stick with what we know and play it safe. To expand your options try using different cooking methods. If you’ve only had a vegetable prepared a certain way and didn’t like it, you may actually enjoy it cooked differently. Most vegetables can be roasted, grilled, steamed or boiled. Roasting is actually one of the best methods to retain all those valuable nutrients. Try roasting in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper.




Soups are another method to increase vegetable intake. You can utilize vegetables in so many ways to create a great tasting soup. You can puree them into a soup base or save vegetable scraps to make your own vegetable broth. Most soups can hold a variety of vegetables and legumes ranging from lentils and beans to carrots and zucchini. This is an especially good option for picky eaters. This way you can add different kinds of vegetables in that you normally wouldn’t eat by themselves.


Meal Prepping


You are much more likely to eat your recommended servings if you have a plan in place. By having your veggies prepped for the week it will make them accessible to you. You will be more likely to reach for them if you’ve put some work into it and they are already prepared for you to grab and go. This also helps with reducing your food waste because you will be more likely to eat them before they spoil.


Shelf Life


Knowing the shelf life of your veggies and how to properly store them can save you money and reduce food waste. See the link below of most common veggies and how to properly store them.


Bulk and Frozen


Bulk lentils and beans can be purchase for a fraction of the price of canned ones. These are good staples to have on hand. Simply rehydrate them in water before use. Frozen vegetables are also another good option to have on hand. Contrary to what you may have heard, frozen vegetables contain the same benefits as fresh vegetables because they are frozen at peak ripeness. No loss in vitamins and minerals here!



At the end of the day, you are what you eat! Trying slowly integrating these strategies into your normal eating habits. By slowly increasing intakes you will build long-lasting healthy eating habits. The weather is starting to get colder and we are starting to spend more time indoors. This a great opportunity to spend some time in the kitchen and try something new!



Eating Seasonally::



Guelph Family Health Team, Rock What You’ve Got  



Storing Vegetables



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Many of you are probably aware that we are facing a climate crisis, but did you know that there’s also a global soil crisis?

Common place agricultural practices remain one of the biggest culprits attributing to the world's soil crisis. These techniques rely heavily on chemicals and physical degradation that further compromises soil health. And as such, the soil loss rate is gradually beginning to exceed the soil’s natural replenishment rate — a widespread concern spanning the world. 


According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) this could mean that current soil degradation rates could result in a loss of the world’s topsoil within 60 years — this soil contains invaluable nutrients that plants need in order to survive.


Why should we care?


Well, our food system relies heavily on our soil health. Approximately 95% of the world’s food is sourced from our soil. That’s a lot!

The basis of life depends on soil, and if soil health is poor, agriculture yields greatly decline, making it difficult to feed the growing population.


While it seems like this issue is a never-ending and irreversible one in today's agriculture sector, there's a simple solution called regenerative agriculture. 


So what is regenerative agriculture


This sustainable farming methodology is implemented as a way to ensure soil’s organic matter and biodiversity are restored and preserved to retain the robust-nature of soil for agricultural practices as well as promoting these ecosystems.


     Harvesting in a field that uses cover crops to maintain soil health between main crops  

Photo credit: Heartwood Farm & Cidery



There are a variety of regenerative agriculture practices, some of which include:


  1. Increasing soil fertility and restoration of the microbiome through the implementation of cover crops, compost, animal manure and crop rotations. You can think of this similarly to your gut microbiota. Everyone has a unique group of commensal bacteria that help supply nutrients to your body while also acting as a defense system against pathogenic bacteria. Like the soil microbiome, having a diverse abundance of “good” bacteria maintains the health of the organism they inhabit.
  1. Reduction or elimination of tillage. Tillage disturbs soil aggregates and incorporates oxygen while releasing carbon dioxide. Increasing tillage causes significant soil erosion and carbon emissions into the atmosphere. 
  1. Strategically managed grazing practices can improve plant growth and promote the accumulation of soil carbon deposits. Carbon improves the soil’s water retention abilities, fertility and structure that reduces erosion, ultimately leading to better ground and surface water quality to help advance food security.


By working in conjunction with nature through regenerative agriculture practices, soil biodiversity thrives and enhances agricultural yields to further increase food security globally.



Looking for more resources on regenerative agriculture?


Watch the Kiss the Ground, a documentary on Netflix


Check out this short film by Farmer’s Footprint



World Soil Day is on December 5, 2020, and this year's campaign is “Keep soil alive. Protect soil biodiversity.” Participate in the discussion with your friends and family to raise awareness of the importance of preserving soil ecosystems and how this can have further ripple effects on the world’s food systems. 



Supporting Articles:


  1. Ontl, T. A. & Schulte, L. A. (2012) Soil Carbon Storage. Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):35. https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/soil-carbon-storage-84223790/

  2. The Carbon Underground & Regenerative Agriculture Initiative. (2017, February 16). What is Regenerative Agriculture? Regeneration International. https://regenerationinternational.org/2017/02/24/what-is-regenerative-agriculture/
  3. Arsenault, C. (2014, December 5). Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/only-60-years-of-farming-left-if-soil-degradation-continues/
  4. Joy, E. (2020, September 24). What Is Regenerative Agriculture And How Can It Reverse Climate Change? Conscious Life & Style. https://www.consciouslifeandstyle.com/regenerative-agriculture/



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     With the widespread continuation of social distancing recommendations, we realize that it is difficult for classrooms to share resources among students. That's why we've been working toward making our learning tools available online, starting with our graphic novel, #foodcrisis.


     This depiction of a world that has experienced a major drought explores the politics, science, and ethical questions that surround an international event of this magnitude. The story is based on historical events that have caused disruptions to our food systems, like the Dust Bowl and the Great Irish Potato Famine, and is supported by 13 background essays on the research that went into writing the novel. At the same time unsettling and somewhat reassuring, the plot draws connections to current events while championing the resiliency of the human spirit that has helped us push through in challenging times. What lessons can be learned from food crises of the past, and what can we learn from our situation now?


Download a pdf copy of #foodcrisis


Coming Soon


     We are working to make even more of our resources available online in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for a printable version of our card game, as well as two new podcast series! If you would like to be notified when new resources are released, we welcome you to join our mailing list below:


Join our mailing list


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