OK, so we all know that food waste is an issue. With our population exploding past 7 billion and hurtling towards 8.5 billion by 2030 (UN Statistic), our world has never faced such extreme pressures on its resources before. So what can we do about it? We can’t make more land to grow food (well…. feasibly at least), Perhaps the solution lies in the reduction of our individual demand on the food system.
Which leads us to food waste.
Food waste can range anywhere from the uneaten pizzas leftover from an “enlightening get-together” to the pineapple tops unused during prep-work in the kitchen. The distinction of this waste ranges from edible versus inedible. Unfortunately with our current practices, the majority of edible and inedible food waste goes straight into landfills. Which literally stinks since landfills are responsible for a substantial amount of methane emission- a very potent greenhouse gas. PLUS there is such a wasted potential for soil enhancement.
Last year, the City of Fayetteville conducted a Composting Pilot Project in conjunction with the University of Arkansas. They not only diverted a large portion of carbon from being converted into methane, but they also transformed our waste into beautiful and healthy soil. ISN’T THAT GREAT?!! The movement to continue the pilot goes to the City Council on December 6th, and hopefully they will decide to continue this trek towards healthiness.
Is This Edible?
Even though we are taking strides towards a more sustainable future, we still have to consider how much waste is generated. In fact, much of our food waste is still considered edible- such as the uneaten pizzas mentioned before.
Thankfully, the VAC Food Recovery Network is really great at recovering edible food sources on campus. Which is so needed since over 1 in 4 children go to bed hungry every night in Northwest Arkansas. But not matter how great the Food Recovery Network is, they still need your help in recovering as much as possible. As soon as it touches our plates, that food is considered nonrecoverable. As students, we have the unique opportunity of turning the balance by being aware of what we choose to plate.
Wasting less to eat more
What we choose to eat and not eat plays a huge role in our community impact. Knowing this is called Awareness, which is the first step in shaping your impact. Which leads into the main mission of Clean Plate.
Clean Plate is an initiative designed to educate students on their food waste impact and how they can take part in reducing their share of the pile. It does so by challenging you to eat everything on your plate. This is not advocating to gorge on your meals, but instead prepare each plate with mindfulness. Be aware that any leftovers could have been given to one of the other 7 billion hungry mouths.
FOR ALL GOOD THINGS, WE MUST CELEBRATE!
The first Clean Plate kick-off was held at Fulbright Dining Hall on Tuesday Oct. 25th with the support of Chartwells and VAC Food Recovery Network. It was a fun and informative experience for all who participated, with the City Compost Pilot Project discussed by Peter Nierengarten during the dinner and the documentary showing of Just Eat It playing afterwards. Students had the chance to be goofy at the photo-booth and express their creativity with crayon drawings on the table. Keep your eyes peeled for the next event to be held at the dining halls!
How to make an IMPACT!
Want to take part in the movement? Then focus on your meals. Below are some helpful tips to start your trek:
- Start off small & use small portions for unknown flavors.
- Grab seconds, or thirds if you are still hungry!
- Use this repetition to gauge how full you are.
This action will help you slow down and enjoy your meal while staying conscious of how full you are getting. The small portions also allow for the chance to try of a lot of things and enjoy multiple flavors. There is no shame in enjoying your meal. You paid for a yummy experience, so what’s the point of wasting it?
In the end though, the most transforming movements stem from awareness and conscious actions. You can change your world one plate at a time.