Circular Food Innovation Lab Explores How to Eliminate Wasted Food in Vancouver Food System
A new research project explores ways of eliminating wasted food by creating “circularity” in Vancouver’s food system.
CFIL designer Hunter Milroy (BDes 2022, left) and City of Vancouver Solutions Lab designer / CFIL design + experimentation lead Lily Raphael explore Delirio’s organic farm in Brazil. (Image courtesy CFIL)
The Circular Food Innovation Lab (CFIL) is a project co-led by the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Economic Commission’s Economic Transformation Lab, Emily Carr University (ECU) and 18 Vancouver-based businesses and organizations working in the food system. CFIL was funded by the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance and Mitacs.
Circularity means finding ways of bringing industrial and retail food practices into alignment with the cyclical nature of food production itself, says Lily Raphael, City of Vancouver Solutions Lab designer and CFIL design + experimentation lead.
“At the core of it, circularity is about adopting practices where the idea of waste doesn’t exist,” she says. “It’s about developing a close relationship to food and its cycles, and establishing a habit of using and interacting with food in a way where there’s nothing left over, and there’s nothing that can’t be used, whether by humans or other beings.”
Small-scale and regenerative farmers are an example of a group which has been practicing circularity for generations, even though “circularity” isn’t a word they employ, Lily adds. But broadly speaking, current practices follow a pattern of extract-produce-consume-dispose. Terms such as “expiration date,” “best-before” and “spoilage” expose how we view food’s value as a one-way street: it peaks when food is fresh and then degrades over time.
Each year in Canada alone, wasted food creates more than 56 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions. And more than 11 million tonnes of edible food are wasted annually at a value of $49 billion. Meanwhile, 1 in 10 people in the 10 provinces live in a food-insecure household, according to Statistics Canada.
And with climate change and supply-chain instability increasingly threatening access to food, the importance of reducing waste and maximizing value is increasingly urgent. To this end, CFIL offers tools and experimental models for developing food circularity.
Members of the CFIL design team meet on Delirio’s organic farm with staff during the project. (Image courtesy CFIL)
A Harvest Chart is among the educational materials CFIL developed for Anthony Sullivan’s IGA on Robson Street in Vancouver. (Image courtesy CFIL)
Delirio staff and ServDes conference attendees co-create ideas for deepening circular and regenerative practices during a co-design workshop led by the CFIL design team. (Image courtesy CFIL)
You can find this article also on Emily Carr News.