By Katie Pastor
Happy Earth Week! Over the past few days, the Sustainable Food Systems Team has made incredible headway in our outreach initiative and planning for the rest of the quarter.
At our Earth Day Fair booth, we really kick-started our campaign to encourage students to clean their plates. Our team got creative but remained focused on our goal at this event: offering opportunities for passersby to internalize data about food waste on the Hill in the form of an interactive trivia game. The game, inspired by our blog post on water waste at the beginning of our project, encouraged students to step back and look at their own food and water consumption, from the beginning to the end of the process. All those who participated were entered into a raffle to win a reusable E3 shopping bag filled with treats from our on-campus farmers market! The winner will be announced this week and the prize distributed at next week’s farmers market for optimal freshness.
We also distributed our survey at the fair, in order to help us determine the way students eat on campus, and what the major factors are in influencing students to waste (or avoid wasting, in many cases) their food. Though we didn’t print nearly enough surveys to accommodate all the people the fair attracted, we did collect data from a sizable population and have learned to account for far many more at our future outreach events.
While our game and our survey were important and effective in reaching out to festival-goers, what seemed to be most intriguing and perhaps thought-provoking was our display on how to eat an apple correctly. “Correctly?” many mused, “Have I been eating my apple-a-day incorrectly my entire life?” As it turned out, most folks had actually never heard of the “bottom up” method, which promotes going at it from the bottom, essentially making the core disappear and leaving the stem as the sole remnant of the fruit. By providing apples and a demonstration on eating from the bottom up, individuals were able to take on this less wasteful, not-so-new and improved form of eating firsthand at the fair. We encouraged participants to take before and after photos with their apples and their stems at our photo booth.
All in all, our methods of education seemed to work quite well in the festival setting! We will continue displaying our game and apple demonstration, as well as offer more surveys at upcoming events such as Ecochella. It is confirmed that we will conduct a follow-up audit/tabling event at Covel dining hall on the Hill during Week 6 (more on that soon), and our team will also speak at an on-campus food waste panel this week! Please swing by Thursday, May 1st at 6p.m. if you’re interested in hearing us talk/answer questions about our research in person!