Students who lined up outside of Stav Hall on Monday, April 22, were treated to food prepared by Bon Appétit in celebration of the annual Low-Carbon Day in the Caf.
The event, which coincided with Earth Day, aimed to show students how certain foods are being impacted by climate change and to give examples of low-carbon, local ingredients. This year’s treat was a smoothie made of blueberries, basil and almond milk. Various staff members served the drink to students at a booth adorned with flashy signs and loaded with information about low-carbon and local diets.
By showcasing foods that have a smaller carbon footprint, as opposed to dairy, meat and packaged products, the Bon Appétit staff hoped to help students learn about how their ingredients impact their environment.
“This year our focus is on serving items that are affected by climate change,” said Bon Appétit Executive Chef Matthew Forgarty, as he served dollops of smoothie to a crowd of students. “We take things that have a low carbon footprint and showcase them. The fact that we can use local products is one of the beautiful ideas that we chose to focus on.”
Low-Carbon Day has been a tradition for the past eight years, and, according to Bon Appétit Sous Chef Lewayne Strand, the feedback from students is “always positive.”
“Sure, there’s always the boo-hooers who want cheese on their pizza, but we usually run naked pizza to balance things out,” Strand said.
According to a literature review on the impacts of climate change on agriculture, commissioned by Bon Appétit Management Company, “The one thing scientists and all models agree on is that temperatures are going to warm, and this is going to affect crops.”
The Bon Appétit Management Company aims to highlight the significant connections between food and climate change and to “take steps to reduce [their] contribution to the problem,” according to their website http://www.cafebonappetit.com. These steps include reducing purchases of high-carbon foods, reducing wasteful practices, focusing on local produce and increasing awareness about how the choices people make about food affect climate change.
Bon Appétit is always “absolutely trying to push for low-carbon food,” Strand said. “We try to use as much of Bon Appétit produce as possible, but it is more plentiful when school is not in session. During the school year, though, we try to get our produce locally.”
While signs pointing out locally-grown, vegan and vegetarian options are usually attached to the menus outside of the Caf, the chance to discuss the issues of food and climate change directly with students was a valuable opportunity for the Stav Hall staff.
“I love working here and making things from scratch, and for us to communicate what we are serving like this is really great,” Strand said. “We encourage any questions students may have.”
“One of the things I love about this day is that a lot of our low-carbon efforts are lost in translation,” Fogarty said. “But this connection is a lot more personal. There’s a lot more synergy as a whole.”
To learn more about a low-carbon diet, community members can visit EatLowCarbon.org. In the meantime, interested eaters can follow the site’s “Top Five Low-Carbon Diet Tips”:
1. You bought it, you eat it – don’t waste food.
2. Make “seasonal and regional” your food mantra.
3. Moooove away from beef and cheese.
4. Stop flying fish and fruit – don’t buy air-freighted food.
5. If it’s processed and packaged, skip it.