Culinary Institute, Hyde Park
March 12, 2020
We were just under the wire for new Social Distancing policy with this event and chose to hold it anyway because so many of the attendees were students living on campus. There was a good turnout nonetheless and what a fine event it turned out to be.
LWVMHR Board member, and Manager of Career & Academic Advising for the Culinary, Maura O’Meara did a terrific job, not only in planning and organizing the event, but in making sure the evening went as smoothly as glass.
First up was Chef Alex, who runs the CIA kitchen called Menus of Change. She takes the leftovers from the numerous other kitchens on campus and creates a delectable menu, available at a reduced cost to students. Since much of the food, (bread, produce and other items) would have been discarded, the cost of food is lower, which is good for students on a budget. We sampled scrumptious vegan soft tacos and a rich chocolate banana bread pudding that was heavenly. These samples were served on compostable plates and the food waste (what little there was of it) went into a compost bin to be added to the campus garden in the spring. Chef Alex is currently drafting a curriculum for future classes, a food pantry mentoring program and elementary school cooking programs. Right now, the program is work study, research kitchen and think tank. Chef Alex states that her philosophy is that “when given limitless options, it stifles creativity” and has lived up to those ideals with timely and trailblazing solutions to better nutrition as well as earth-friendly processes.
Next, we heard from Kimiko Link, Environmental Scientist with EPA Region 2 (Greater NYC). Kimiko was a wealth of information, pointing out what is currently being done nationally in the area of food waste and outlining the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, which looks like an inverted triangle, and shows best-to-worst practices regarding sustainable management of food. She offered colorful informational handouts on the Food Recovery Challenge, as well as a publication titled “Tools to Reduce Waste in Schools” and fridge magnets with the Food Recovery Hierarchy. In addition, Kimiko helped audience members navigate the EPA website to find information, webinars, tips and resources that anyone can access for free.
Finally, Laura Deney, Wasted’s film editor, shared her experiences working with Anthony Bourdain and gave us an insider’s view of the making of the movie.
After our incredible lineup of speakers finished, the screening of Wasted! began along with jaw-dropping information alongside inspirational stories from around the world, the movers and shakers great and small, that give me a sense of optimism in the future of our planet and in humanity. We learned that a head of lettuce can take up to 25 years to break down in the anaerobic (oxygen-free) atmosphere of landfill piles as well as hearing from a South Korean person who said that his grandmother told him “If you don’t eat all your food, you’ll go to hell and eat it there”.
I could go on, but am hoping that, once we are free to do so safely, we might reprise the event and that even more of you might enjoy it firsthand.