We have been offering timely science topics to the community for 21 years through our Food for Thought Lecture Series, and felt the need to continue offering interesting and thought-provoking lectures/discussions for the Fall term. For the past four years, the Series has opened with our very special A. Jean de Grandpré Distinguished Speaker Series. The Series was established to honour Chancellor Emeritus M. A. Jean de Grandpré (1984 to 1991), a long-standing member of the McGill Board of Governors and one of Canada’s most distinguished business leaders. The Faculty has been entrusted to steward this lecture series with a mission to produce and share knowledge. We are well positioned to fulfill this mission due to the fact that we have innovative researchers, we educate the next generation of leaders, and we discover sustainable solutions for tomorrow, thinking beyond the limited horizon of our own discipline by bridging conceptual boundaries and connecting dots.

This year our esteemed panelists/experts were discussing the Sustainability of Agriculture and Food Supply Chains: Building Back Better after COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns about many aspects of society, one of which is the sustainability and security of our food supply. These concerns have led us to consider other ways in which our food supply might be insecure in the face of change. The restarting of our economy gives us an opportunity to think of ways in which our systems for production, processing and distribution of food can be “built back better” to be more economically, socially and ecologically sustainable.

With over 100 alumni, friends and students logging in, our panelists – Evan Fraser, Director of the Arrell Food Institute and Professor of Geography, University of Guelph, Aurélie Harou, Assistant Professor in Agricultural Economics in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences at McGill University, and Nii Addy, Associate Director (Africa Outreach)/Senior Outreach Advisor in the office of the Deputy Provost, Student Life and Learning (DPSLL) at McGill University – provided the audience with insight and further discussion points on how this disruption has led to changes in our food systems.

Some of the issues they touched on were: how the pandemic has affected the food system in Canada and internationally, in particular African countries; the impact of climate change on food security; the role of technology in allowing us to reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint. The lecture was recorded to share with a broader audience – follow this link to access the video: https://youtu.be/VSiU2UpDM8Q

At-Home Homecoming is superseding our next Food for Thought Lecture as there are many virtual events taking place the week of September 22. The Faculty is hosting a Webcast/Masterclass on Friday, September 25, at 3:30 pm; the title is Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition, Food Security, and Well-being. Registration is required to receive the log-in details.

Our overarching theme for Food for Thought 2020 will be Sustainability, and our guiding principles will be the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations. These goals are all interconnected and address the global challenges we face, including, to name a few, those related to zero hunger, good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation. We look forward to welcoming you to our next lecture, scheduled for Tuesday, October 6, at 7:00 pm – consult the Food for Thought webpage for details.