Nathan Pelletier holds the NSERC/Egg Farmers of Canada Industrial Research Chair in Sustainability. This Chair contributes to a research chair network that includes endowed research chairs in Public Policy (Bruce Muirhead, University of Waterloo), Economics (Maurice Doyon, Universite Laval), and Animal Welfare (Tina Widowski, University of Guelph).
The modern egg industry is exemplary of the challenges and opportunities of managing food systems for sustainability objectives. For most of us, when we pick up a dozen eggs from the grocery store shelf, we are largely oblivious to the story behind what we are buying. Of course, we know that the eggs were laid by chickens on a Canadian farm and subsequently transported to the grocery store. Yet that singular act of a chicken laying an egg is predicated on a much broader, much more complicated network of relationships. This network spans activities from extracting the fossil energy resources that are used to produce fertilizers and power farm machinery in order to grow and to process the crops that are fed to laying hens, to consumption of egg products and disposal of related wastes. It includes breeder farms, hatcheries, and pullet facilities, where chicks are reared to laying age before they are moved into layer barns. On egg farms, laying hens may be raised in a variety of housing systems. Each system - indeed, each farm - will be characterized by differing resource efficiencies and impact profiles. The egg industry also relies upon a complex network of transportation, grading, packing and processing systems. All of these activities are supported by flows of material and energy resources, with associated emissions, and they also involve a diverse cast of stakeholders. Managing egg production for sustainability absolutely requires that we be attentive to all of these relationships and supply chain stages. It requires that we seek to understand which of these relationships really matter for specific sustainability objectives, and that we seek to influence these relationships accordingly.
The overarching goal of the Egg Industry Chair in Sustainability, through Egg Industry Priority Research for Integrated Sustainability Management (PRISM) initiatives, is to develop and implement a broad-based program of research that will contribute the information and tools necessary to enable mainstreaming effective sustainability management in the Canadian egg industry.
Pelletier, N., Doyon, M., Muirhead, B., Widowski, T., Nurse-Gupta, J., Hunniford, M. 2018 Sustainability in the Canadian egg industry - Learning from the past, navigating the present, planning for the future. Sustainability 10:3524.
Pelletier, N. 2018 Social sustainability assessment of Canadian egg production facilities: Methods, analysis, and recommendations. Sustainability 10(5).