Sustainable Dining: A roadmap of food politics

By Joseph Martinus

It’s crunch-time here on campus as we check off assignment after assignment on our Bruin recycled paper planners. The grades we receive are in fact indicative of our ability to comprehend, retain, and reiterate all of that information from the past 10 weeks discerned in lectures, seminars, meetings, and study-groups. However, for some of us, the 10 weeks are not measured by a single letter grade. The quarter, in this case, the two-quarter-action-research we challenged ourselves with is more than just a grade.  We have made strides all across campus in the name of Sustainability. Alongside our regular academic courses, each and every one of us part of the Action Research Team umbrella made a commitment: to make a difference. The Sustainable Food Systems did. We measured food waste in the residential dining halls, we educated students and staff about the ongoing crisis, and we extended the conversation beyond our boundaries—which is more rewarding than a grade.

This week marks a significant time for us. We will present our research to a host of academics and stakeholders. Our investments will be returned with the mere appreciation for our holistic approach to sustainability we maintained this year. We decided to market our research as a crisis and opportunity to do better for our environment. Yes, specific attention was paid to food waste and metrics. But, where we differed from 2009’s food waste team, was in the politics of food production and its roadmap to your plate. That is, how the value of food intersects and is manifested in different avenues, such as water and energy, and the roadmap from crop-to-table-to-waste. We strived to debunk common misconceptions that prohibited people from making cognizant choices when consuming/selecting food.  For some, it’s fixed. For others, it’s malleable, which is good for us, and the world—fortunately.

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