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Title:Environmental and economic impacts of UIUC food purchasing
Author(s):Hunter, Dane William
Advisor(s):Wander, Michelle M
Department / Program:Natural Resource & Environmental Science
Discipline:Natural Resource & Environmental Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Food Footprint
Local Multiplier
Food Carbon
Abstract:This work summarizes the increased attention American universities have paid to sustainability and reducing carbon emissions in recent decades through greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories, as well as application of values based assessments such as the Real Food Challenge and then applies selected metrics to food procured by campus dining services at the University Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC) in 2013. The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) is a voluntary effort through which signatories have agreed to perform baseline carbon inventories and publish climate action plans with emission reduction targets. UIUC’s Climate Action Plan, iCAP, calls to increase the amount of local food, reduce agriculturally-related emissions by 50%, and to purchase more than 30% of food from within 100 miles by 2015. This is despite the fact that the ACUPCC inventory does not include food related emissions. This project used Life Cycle Assessment models to estimate GHG, and a Local Multiplier 2 (LM2) to consider local economic impact based on three ‘local’ purchasing definitions. In FY13, purchased food items accounted for 2.15% of the total UIUC footprint. Meat products accounted for around 50% of the foodprint, with beef comprising over 50% of that. Dairy accounted for about 15%. Packaging composed approximately 9% of an average product’s footprint. Transportation miles only composed 4% of the foodprint, so while reducing mileage does not offer the same GHG saving potential as altering consumption and production practices, LM2 models show economic benefits to the region derived from increasing local production and processing. Varying definitions of local show that UIUC’s local purchases range from composing <1% under the 2010 iCAP definition to 38% of food under the broadest definition. Despite prospective benefits of regional food systems, barriers have prevented large shifts in institutional spending to local food systems. Altering the requirements for institutional spending on locally produced goods to open new market opportunities as well as improved accounting of economic and environmental gains associated with local food procurement could facilitate transition to environmentally and economically sound regional food systems. Results from this work suggest purchasing and consumption scenarios that reduce meat consumption and capitalize on the region’s capacity for grain, legume, and oil crop production to support a local, sustainable food system. First steps towards realization of this transition include fostering new markets by beginning to purchase locally supplied dry beans which require minimal processing. Additionally, the Sustainable Student Farm and Food Science and Human Nutrition Pilot Processing Plant can model and refine practices of producing and processing grain and oil crops for a regional food system.
Issue Date:2015-12-09
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Dane Hunter
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-03-02
Date Deposited:2015-12

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