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Scaling up: Bringing public institutions and food service corporations into the project for a local, sustainable food system in Ontario

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This paper reports on a relationship between the University of Toronto and a non-profit, non-governmental (“third party”) certifying organization called Local Flavour Plus (LFP). The University as of August 2006 requires its corporate caterers to use local and sustainable farm products for a small but increasing portion of meals for most of its 60,000 students. LFP is the certifying body, whose officers and consultants have strong relations of trust with sustainable farmers. It redefines standards and verification to create ladders for farmers, Aramark and Chartwells (the corporations that won the bid), and the University, to continuously raise standards of sustainability. After years of frustrated efforts, other Ontario institutions are expressing interest, opening the possibility that a virtuous circle could lead to rapid growth in local, sustainable supply chains. The paper examines the specificities of the LFP approach and of the Toronto and Canadian context. Individuals in LFP acquired crucial skills, insights, experience, resources, and relationships of trust over 20 years within the Toronto “community of food practice,” located in a supportive municipal, NGO and social movement context.

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Debbie Field


Integrated Pest Management


International Standards Organization


Local Flavour Plus


Lori Stahlbrand


Michael Schreiner


President’s Choice™ (brand of Loblaw’s Supermarket)


Rod MacRae


Toronto Food Policy Council


University of Toronto


United Kingdom


United States


United States Department of Agriculture


World Wildlife Fund


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Correspondence to Harriet Friedmann.

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Harriet Friedman PhD, is Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga and at the Centre for International Studies University of Toronto. Her research is in international and local politics of food and agriculture, focusing on contested transitions between food regimes. Her current research is on politics of standards and certification.

Thanks to Lori Stahlbrand, Mike Schreiner, and Rod MacRae of LFP and Debbie Field and Zahra Parvinian of FoodShare for sharing time and insights at length, and to Wayne Roberts of TFPC, David Clandfield of New College, Josee Johnston, and Amber McNair for helpful conversations about our “community of practice.” Thanks to Yossi Cadam for the ladder metaphor.

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Friedmann, H. Scaling up: Bringing public institutions and food service corporations into the project for a local, sustainable food system in Ontario. Agric Hum Values 24, 389–398 (2007).

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