In the past three semesters, I have produced food waste a total of five times in the Caf. In that total, I am not including when I have tossed peels, rinds and used napkins because they are nearly inedible. I have and will argue to the bitter end that such technicalities do not account as food waste in any meaningful way.
Wasting clearly edible food by virtue of one’s eyes being larger than one’s stomach, however, is a subject on which I silently fume, and is the basis of my sentiments today.
My reasons for being angry over food waste are not new. We are lucky to be living in the abundance of St. Olaf College, and that should not be taken for granted.
Soon, my class, the class of 2015, will graduate and realize more fully the struggles off the Hill, perhaps one of which is how 14.3 percent of U.S. citizens are food insecure. Our ample choice and access to nutritious food is a blessing that many do not possess.
Thankfully, St. Olaf composts 100 percent of its food waste and uses it in many ways on campus. Yet, this is an energy intensive process, and the required resources are better suited elsewhere. Continued food waste compounds into an unnecessary demand that, although dealt with sustainably at St. Olaf, still requires our action and energy.
Most likely, Oles are aware of these reasons. Yet, it is difficult to enact a change on a large scale. Altering our food waste is a collective problem, and a small amount of uneaten food by any single individual a few times per week does not make an appreciable dent in the 175 tons of wasted food composted by St. Olaf every year. It is also easy to grab too much with our buffet-style eating, to receive too much from an apathetic Caf worker or to dislike what appeared, at first, intriguing to our eyes. Yet, I would argue, it is not hard to combat these pitfalls.
You can ask for specific amounts to ensure you do not get too much at any line, nor from the server. I consistently ask for a scoop-and-a-half of eggs at breakfast, and its specificity gives an amount generally consistent with my appetite. In addition, if a new food appears delicious, ask for a small amount so as not to feel the need to choke it down later if you indeed dislike it.
These suggestions are clearly not exhausting, and there are surely better solutions for change waiting to be discovered or implemented. Possible solutions are not within my area of expertise, but they are my concern. Until we develop new ways to reduce food waste, perhaps the best method of prevention comes from a reminder such as this.