Blog/Opinion

Learning Food Sustainability: One Way in which Haverford College’s Environmental Committee is Spreading Sustainable Food Practice Ideas

Authors:
Nicole Haas-Loomis
Margaret Chen
Johnluca Fenton
Contributor:
Publication Year:
2020
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

The Committee for Environmental Responsibility (CER) is a committee composed of Haverford staff, faculty, and students committed to making Haverford College a more sustainable environment based on the college’s socially responsible principles. I was able to communicate with two of CER’s student leaders, Johnluca and Margaret, who told me more about what CER is doing, specifically concerning sustainable food practices. They also gave some good advice from their own experience running CER and implementing certain practices into their own daily life.

One event CER has run since 2015 is Do It In The Dark (DIITD), a month-long, campus-wide event that pits students in different residential houses against one another to see which building’s students can have the largest amount of electricity reduction within the month-long framework. The residents of the winning building get a pizza party and some other perks. The Meatless Challenge is another facet of DIITD. The Meatless Challenge began two years ago so that people in dorms without an energy gauge to track electricity use could also participate. DIITD is run annually to encourage students to use electricity more efficiently and the Meatless Challenge teaches sustainable food practices such as eating less meat or successful ways to eat vegan diets.

People who try to cook vegetarian for a month realize that… it’s fun and you can do it.

Over the past year, DIITD gained popularity. But, Margaret and Johnluca don’t think the increase in engagement is completely altruistic. CER-sponsored giftcards might be helping to incentivize people to participate. Regardless, Margaret says, “a lot of people really started to think about their meat consumption and their dairy consumption” and Johnluca adds that the challenge is fun and it’s message is most impressionable when a lesson can be taught in a fun and enjoyable manner. During the challenge, “people who try to cook vegetarian for a month realize that… it’s fun and you can do it.” The hope is that once this incentivized challenge is over, people will continue the sustainable practices they’ve adapted to during the month.

[School’s food-related curriculum] needs to be early enough so lots of kids are learning what a good meal is… but also at the same time learning what else is important about a meal… Our food habits are developed then.

Margaret and Johnluca also had some comments about how we all can do better in the future and what is necessary to achieve future goals. Both mentioned that education surrounding this topic should begin early. Johnluca declares a school’s food-related curriculum “needs to be early enough so lots of kids are learning what a good meal is… but also at the same time learning what else is important about a meal… Our food habits are developed then.” As a kid who grew up eating meat, he knows first-hand how hard it is to cut out meat from his diet and he says, through education, “it's important to get ahead of that.”

There is a lot of privilege that comes with actually having a meal on the table, and also being able to cook as well.

Margaret observes that food systems are interconnected with our lives and thinks that teaching just how interconnected it all is at an early age is really important. In early education and middle school, “it’s understanding where food comes from, and then [in high school and beyond], going from that science aspect and intertwining social and historical parts into that as well.” She adds, “there is a lot of privilege that comes with actually having a meal on the table, and also being able to cook as well,” so we should think about where our food comes from and who helps get out food to our tables. Our food choices have consequences, and if we are aware of the food system and food industry, then we can make informed decisions when we buy and consume food. We need to know about our food. “It’s not foreign. It’s really connected to you, and to your body, and your health.”

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"Learning Food Sustainability” is a six-part series that focuses on food sustainability through the voices of youth and environmental activists from the United States, France, and Nigeria. The posts include interviews, blog posts, infographics, and resource lists that offer readers a platform for conversations on just and sustainable food practices. The series was edited and curated by Haverford College students Saede Eifrig, Nicole Haas-Loomis, and Mia Reyes as part of the 2020 summer UNICEF Youth Researcher Program.

We, the editors of this content, acknowledge there are socioeconomic disparities across the world that impact an individual’s ability to ‘check off’ every suggestion on this page. We acknowledge that being able to sit down for a home cooked meal is a privilege and controlling the quality and production of said produce is an even bigger privilege.

We have tried to create a variety of suggestions and include a variety of voices to fit our diverse audience, but we recognize not every resource on our page is accessible to every person. Please find the resource that works best for your lifestyle and find the information that is most interesting to you.

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