The Feeding 9 Billion team recently hit the University of Guelph campus to get students’ input on today’s food system.

The exercise started with a large open wall, and an image of a hamburger, fries and soft drink pinned in the centre. This meal is one that the average North American thinks little about. The Feeding 9 Billion team crowd-sourced input from students to weave the complex web of a food system that works to bring this meal to the table. Students were asked to think of items and issues that connected to anything in the meal, and to draw these on cards to pin on the wall.

A stack of index cards with different aspects of the food system drawn and written on them. The top card shows a hand-drawn airplane, and says "food miles"  A stack of index cards with different aspects of the food system drawn and written on them. The top card shows a hand-drawn airplane, and says "drought" A stack of index cards with different aspects of the food system drawn and written on them. The top card shows a hand-drawn landfill with food in it and says "Landfill: 1/3 of food supply is wasted"

Each connection was carefully built with string tied between interrelated items. Rapidly, the food web grew from a single fast-food meal to a knotty, interconnected, complex web mirroring today’s global food system.

Final product of the collaboratively created "food web", comprised of various index cards linked with pieces of string, each depicting the various components of a food system associated with a simple fast-food meal.

Looking at the final product reminds us that each food decision we make has endless implications at various places throughout the food system. As well, opportunities for change and improvement exist in innumerable places.

Thanks to our friends at the University of Guelph Fine Arts Network and Meal Exchange, Guelph Chapter, for help!