soil texture graphic

Food & Wine Identity

Eating is a special way for us to connect with the Earth. It shows what we believe in as a society, brings people together, and makes us happy. Real food not only gives us nutrients, but it also connects us to the land and the communities that grow it. Real food represents where it comes from, the traditions, and the knowledge of the people who made it. In simple words, real food has its own unique character.

The Green Revolution

The Green Revolution was a special way of farming that brought big changes. It focused on growing just one kind of crop that produced a lot of food. These crops were special because they responded well to man-made nutrients like N, P, and K. Farmers used chemicals like herbicides and pesticides to protect the crops, and machines helped water them.

This new way of farming helped us make a lot more food, even though there were a lot more people in the world. We were able to triple the amount of cereal crops we grew, but we only needed to increase the farmland by 30%. This meant we could save many forests from being cut down and stop a huge amount of CO2 from going into the air. It also helped reduce extreme poverty in many countries. In 1981, 44% of the world's population lived in extreme poverty, but by 2018, that number had gone down to just 8.6%. This was a lot better than what people had expected.

The Green Revolution did amazing things for people, but it also came with some problems. Nowadays, we have a lot of farmland that looks the same and doesn't have its own unique qualities. It relies on outside help and is farmed by anonymous people who produce generic products. This has led to less diversity in nature, fewer kinds of animals and plants, and soil that isn't healthy. It has also affected how we store carbon in the ground.

But there's a better way to do agriculture. When we do it right, we recognize and value the connection between the land and the farmer. Farmers know their land well and try to make the most of it by growing different kinds of crops that have their own special qualities. This helps make the food better. Healthy soil and good food go hand in hand. When the soil is unhealthy, the food loses its character and becomes plain and ordinary.

Even more importantly, when we focus on making our food unique, it helps improve the health of the soil. This means our farms can handle the changes in climate better and rely less on using lots of water to grow crops. They can also resist pests and diseases more easily. On top of that, when we celebrate the uniqueness of our food, we also protect different cultural practices in different regions. This helps keep our cultures diverse and our rural communities strong.

Research projects

Andrew and John in vineyard

Evaluating vineyard manipulations on aroma abundance & diversity in Pinot Gris

Andrew Watts

Vancouver Island is a young wine growing region characterized by a diversity of vineyard management practices. Consensus has not been reached as to optimal vineyard practices for this region, further complexified by increasingly novel growing conditions brought about by climate change. The research objective was evaluation of fruit quality as measured by the diversity and abundance of flavour- and aroma-producing compounds (glycosides) in fruit produced across an array of vineyard management strategies on Vancouver Island. For the first time in the Vancouver Island growing region, how vineyard management decisions affect fruit quality is demonstrated.

Sensory lab samples

Do farm practices predict the physio-chemical or sensory performance of food products?

Alexa DeJong

Farming practices can vary greatly across multiple dimensions. From a consumer perspective, the most relevant dimension is where the farm sits on the gradient between conventional industrial practices on one end to organic/biodynamic on the other. The research objective was to asses if consumers could taste differences in products grown in under conditions varying across this gradient and do perceived quality differences consistently covary with production methods? If more sustainable farm practices yield consumer-perceptible quality differences then consumer driven market instruments may be leveraged to drive more sustainable farming practices.

Botrytis grapes

Evaluating return-on-investment from vine to wine

Mitch Macfarlane

Finished Pinot Gris wines produced on Vancouver Island under varying viticulture strategies were evaluated through sensory evaluation by average consumers and expert tasters. The research objective was evaluation of the ROI of vineyard practices thought to improve fruit and wine quality and if increased investments resulted in objectively superior wines and if so, would consumers be willing to pay more for these wines.



Alexa's research sought to determine whether farm practices impact the sensory properties of various agricultural products. She examined the differences between small-scale and conventional operations and those that used synthetic versus compost fertilizers. Her analysis showed that consumers preferred the taste of certain vegetables produced using more ecologically-friendly practices, however, their willingness to pay more for these products was limited.
Download Alexa's thesis
Mitch's research examined wines made on Vancouver Island using Pinot Gris grapes that had been grown using different vineyard management strategies. He explored whether three different practices known to affect fruit-zone microclimates impacted the perceived quality of the wine. By evaluating the consumer's willingness to pay for wines made using different practices, Mitch was able to determine the return on investment for producers.
Download Mitch's thesis


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Ecogastronomy Research Group

I and my students use quantitative analyses of food and wine production systems to reveal linkages between ecological and social sustainability, “quality”, and the primacy of place … “Ecogastronomy”

Dr. John Volpe

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School of Environmental Studies
University of Victoria
V8W 2Y2
JPV Office - Turpin B156
EcoSoil Lab - Turpin B159
Sensory Lab - Turpin B161