Evidence-based, Sustainable Decision-Making for Institutional Food Service Providers
|See: U-M Looking to Grow Research Data — and Lettuce — with Addition of Freight Farm to Campus Farm (Michigan Dining)|
Institutional food service providers have an increasing number of production options to choose from in sourcing fresh, local foods, yet very little information is available to support comparisons of the environmental sustainability of such options. For example, if the local production of salad greens in northern climates requires technological supplementation of heat and light, is it actually better for the environment than shipping those greens in from warmer climates? What does environmental sustainability mean in this context, and how can it be measured?
A major challenge in supporting UM Dining Services and other institutional food service providers is that the data necessary to conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) is lacking. To help overcome this barrier, this project developed and shared a data collection tool to support collection of data on production inputs and practices, engaged with distant production operators to gather data, and established an operational Freight Farm at the UM Campus Farm for in-house evaluation and data collection.
For more information, read the final project report (PDF).
- Download the Alternative Food Production Inventory Data Collection Tool (data log spreadsheet and supporting documentation) on the U-M Center for Sustainable Systems website.
- Learn more about urban, vertical and indoor agriculture, including freight farms, in Spotlight on urban, vertical and indoor agriculture (FRCN Blogs, January 18, 2019).
This project received a $10,000 Catalyst Grant in 2018.