Our Table Live – Food Waste
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Buhler: Our second our table event focusing on
food waste and as you can see why I guess you kind of get a hint as to why
we might hold such an event at a place like this I think it is really timely
and important that we take on this topic and I think really for two reasons we’re
talking a lot about feeding people and resources and things going forward
expanding population and I believe one of the most under talked about and under
considered pieces of this whole equation is food waste we talk and talk
and talk about how we’ve got to produce more and more food but what we really
need to do is to have more food available for people to consume and if
we can greatly reduce the amount of food that we waste we’re gonna make a lot of
progress in that goal without using more resources more land more water or
anything like that so I really believe that I’m really excited that we’re
starting this dialogue and hopefully this is going to be getting more and
more discussions and movement in this area so with that let me turn the
microphone over to Sheril Kirshenbaum the moderator of our table.
Buhler: Thank you Doug and thank you to our panelists and thank you to all of you
for joining us on this not so spring-like Wednesday in March but if
you’ll listen you’ll hear there’s birds all around us so we can imagine that
spring is really around the corner we are very excited to be here with this
esteemed panel to talk about food waste and I think it’s it’s such a vital
topic to thinking about meeting some of the biggest challenges we face in the
21st century but it’s also a topic that we don’t often think about and we don’t
often feel like we’re connected to in the very real and tangible ways that we
are so to get started I’m just going to give very brief introductions for each
of our panelists and then we’re gonna jump right into a few questions but what
I’m hoping is because our table is a series of roundtable discussions all
about different food topics but it’s less about us and mostly about wanting
to listen and talk to the community who is here with us today so I’m hoping as
listen to where we’re headed with some of these conversations that you’ll start
thinking questions too and we can turn the mic over to you and start a real
conversation in this room in the space so to my far left we have dr. Sriram
Narayanan he is a fellow and associate professor in supply chain management at
the MSU Eli Broad College of Business his research focuses on designing and
developing operational environments that produce superior innovations and
productivity next we have Natalie Molnar natalie is an energy analyst with the
Lansing Board of Water in light and a program coordinator with live green
Lansing she oversees the scraps to soil pilot program which we’re looking
forward to hearing a lot about and that aims to turn food waste into compost
Natalie’s work focuses on helping Lansing residents and business owners
waste less energy and improve their environmental footprint and I’m
especially excited to talk about this because some of my prior work also had
to do with wasting less energy in the food that we throw away also to my
immediate left we have Jonathan bloom who is a science writer and the author
of a fantastic book called American Wasteland Jonathan is from Durham North
Carolina where I used to live and he founded the website wastedfood.com
he’s consulted with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Harvard Law
School the NRDC and General Mills and he’s a former expert in residence at
Bucknell University and Concordia College and an advisory board member for
food tank Refed and imperfect produce so there are so many angles we can start
this conversation with but I thought maybe the best way to kick it off would
be for each of you just to give a small snapshot of but really sharing with our
audience why should we care about food waste anyway and we can just kind of go
down the line and each say a little something. Bloom: Yeah I mean that’s that’s the
key questions that really has focusing on this issue why are we here today I
have been researching this topic for almost 15 years and for me the the
fundamental point to make is that we shouldn’t be wasting food because
there are people who don’t have enough food eat so that that simple paradox of
of wasting about 40 percent of our food supply while 15 percent of Americans are
food insecure that doesn’t add up and to to move forward in any capacity
without addressing that is morally callous and so that it really gets me
out of bed in the morning and it’s why I focus on this issue but there are also
environmental factors at play a tremendous amount of natural resources
that we put into producing our food that are then squandered when we waste that
food so I’m thinking primarily of energy or oil but certainly water and land or
soil fertility as well so that’s a significant factor here and then finally
the the economics are pretty staggering about two hundred and eighteen billion
dollars is the estimate for what our food waste problem costs nationally and
closer to home the average family of four is throwing away about two thousand
dollars a year with the food they don’t eat
so hopefully that that gets our attention and I know we’re all
economically rational folks and saving a buck here there or two thousand of them
will probably get our attention. Molnar: Why should we care because it’s a food waste
it’s a little thing that has very tangible benefits so I know and I work
with residents of Lansing and Lansing is very diverse we have all all types of
people of every income level race education level and when you start
talking about things that are green or sustainability that can be like echoing
a lot that’s a little esoteric for some people but everybody eats we all consume
food every day it’s a very visceral thing that we can all have an impact on
at any level of society so food waste food diversion it impacts all of us and
it overlaps into so many other areas of sustainability it’s just a really great
starting point to get people interested in being more responsible taking more
ownership of their actions and how they can have a positive effect on our local
community and in the long run our larger community. Narayanan: Great I think there are quite
a few quite a few reasons that my co-panelists mentioned I think clearly
you know there are estimates that I read that in the u.s. 40% of the food is
actually wasted and from from a supply chain standpoint or a business
standpoint I think we believe in a very simple concept right so we we want to
balance demand and supply so we want to produce what you need and so I think
there is this you know if you think about the food industry itself there are
lots of different hues and shapes that we find like packaged foods all the way
to fresh foods and there is this question that we are getting much better
at mass producing food and keeping it better but the bigger question is okay
are we good at figuring out what we can do to balance what to produce exactly
what we need and how do we do that and that’s sort of a big question more from
a systemic design standpoint I guess so I’m going to stop there and yeah. Kirshenbaum: Yeah I mean it’s it’s I love puns but
it’s it’s really a lot to swallow when you think about it because I mean as
Sriram just mentioned or was it Natalie forty percent of the food that we grow
never gets eaten so with all that food we’re wasting energy and we’re wasting
water and we’re producing co2 emissions and that contributes to a lot of other
big challenges so I think while we’re always talking about inventing our way
out of some of the impacts of things like climate change there’s actually a
lot we can do already by limiting what we throw away and that 40% that
translates to 1,400 calories per person per day so when we’re thinking about
other issues that we’ve talked about like food waste I mean like food access
and we have Joe Garcia in the audience who was kind enough to host our last
event this is also in part a distributional shortcoming that we
should be addressing we’re now turning to Jonathan you’ve been writing and
talking about food waste for a long time so I was wondering if you could tell us
a bit of the most surprising things you’ve learned over the years. Bloom: Ah okay
well I guess the most surprising thing when I look back on on the last five or
ten years is that frankly we’re still talking about the same things and while
there’s been a lot of progress in awareness on this issue
there hasn’t been tons of action on behavior change and what I’ve come to
realize slowly is that we as individuals or a culture we don’t really like to
change so getting people to do things a little bit differently has been a bit
surprising that that there’s such resistance to that kind of shifting in
behavior and so that’s where I try and lean on the the economic incentives and
and always point out the the dollars that can be saved whether it’s for your
family or corporation or where whatever it may be so
so that part has finally hit home that you know we’re going to focus more on
the the recycling part of food waste and and
the composting of food before we we focus on the reduction unfortunately the
most important thing is trying to reduce the amount of excess food out there it
nicely mirrors the reduce reuse recycle mantra but the the reduction part is is
often ignored or doesn’t necessarily gain the traction that that I would hope
so I think there’s a room for every part of that that three-pronged attack of
reduce reuse recycle and oftentimes composting or recycling can be kind of a
entry an entry point as Natalie mentioned sort of the gateway drug if
you will for thinking about food waste but reducing is the most important and
then redistribution taking that excess and getting its people in need is the second most important. Kirshenbaum: Now Natalie you are thinking about this in our own community
which I love that we can have someone speaking about what’s happening here
locally so I’m hoping you can tell us a little bit about how the scraps to soil
program got started and what it does. Molnar: Sure so the city of Lansing some of my
colleagues at the city as well as interested parties in the gardening
community here had been talking for the last probably three years at least about
how could we get residential curbside compost collection for citizens and it
just wasn’t feasible it’s not practical and but we kept her we kept talking we
had a small group of us that just was trying to always think about ways that
we could offer something to residents governor Snyder announced in 2016 his
pollution prevention program and grants that came along with that so a few of us
got together we said why don’t we go after one to try commercial food scrap
composting and we received the grant from the Michigan DEQ that was in 2016
and in fall of that year we launched the pilot scraps to soil and it it really
was the partnerships between the entities that made it possible there’s
no way that any one of us could have done it on our own but between myself
the city of Lansing and Delta was our administer and fiduciary for the project
and then the Michigan DEQ for actually providing the funding we were able to
roll that out and to the surprising thing that you noticed as well as people
are very hesitant to change and we were surprised at how hesitant the businesses
were to even try the program you know us just talking about it we’re like this is
awesome it’s a free program free composting
everyone’s going to want to sign up we’re going to be overwhelmed with
businesses wanting to participate that was not the case
we found recruitment took much longer than we had anticipated
in our grant proposal and it took a lot more work of just confirming with people
that it was okay you know if they tried it and they didn’t like it they weren’t
stuck with it that we would work with them we provided education we provided
all the supplies but just getting over that initial hurdle for people to even
be willing to try it was more difficult than we thought and then eventually we
did have 25 businesses sign up a diverse group we have several small cafes coffee
shops all the way up to large scale food producers Sparrow hospital was one of
our first participants to sign up and then we have
a school so just a wide array of local restaurants and businesses so that we
could really test it out and see how it would work in different applications and
the grant finishes this year so we’ll close it out in June of 2018 there’s a
lot of takeaways from that but I would say that it’s been a successful pilot
and a great partnership so we’re hoping to continue with this work. Bloom: Can I ask one
follow-up the school that’s involved at what kind of school is it? Molnar: It’s actually
my daughter’s school Lansing Catholic hear in town so it’s a parochial school. Bloom:
Purely a coincidence I’m sure that it’s your daughter’s school. Molnar: It totally was a coincidence. Bloom: Oh seriously? Molnar: Yeah really it was they through a connection with our oh I forgot to
mention Hammond Farms is our compost collector there’s no way we could have
done this without him in farms Lee Hammond would not be happy with me but
yes so through a connection that Lee had with Lansing Catholic previously they
signed up. Bloom: I’m guessing the kids are able to figure it out like what goes in
composting and what goes elsewhere and landfill. Molnar: She’s shaking her head no I
don’t think that it’s out where the students see it I think it’s more in the food
prep area but I have been talking with their green team and how they could make
the students more aware than they are actually participating in that program. Bloom:
okay the reason I ask is because I find we often underestimate kids and I’ve
been in a bunch of schools where kindergarteners are sorting their trash
and putting stuff in composting recycling and landfill and it’s very
doable. Kirshenbaum: You’re already tackling one of my next questions to you
on schools but first I wanted to you know we’re talking
about community we’re talking about local businesses but Sriram you’ve been
thinking about this on the supply side so I was hoping you could talk a little
bit about what corporations and firms and industry might be able to do from some
of your experience at wasting food I mean about wasted food. Narayanan: We so we had a
chance to sort of talk to one fairly large corporation you know spend a week
there just talking about food waste and issues with food waste and I think that
I’ll go back to one of the biggest problems we we sort of saw was what
Jonathan was suggesting on behavior so for example you know simple things like
let’s say we go book a contract with a large hotel you do a wedding contract
with a large hotel and many times you know as consumers we want to see a full
plate so when you go pick up a buffet they would say that you know I’m paying
$25 for a breakfast buffet but when I walk through whether you eat enough food
or not as consumers we want to see a full plate so you know for large hotel
chains struggle with this kind of a problem where they sort of want to they
they want to serve their consumers better but for them getting good
customer satisfaction ratings is actually associated with a full plate so
sometimes they struggle with getting good estimates from their guests so for
example you know large parties or corporate meetings there tend so one of
the big sources of waste for them are those where you know they cannot figure
out how many people are going to show up and what is interesting to me is that
you know sometimes we even talk to sales people who say that they they feel that
customers want what they want you can’t go back and tell them that you know can
you do it slightly differently we’ll give you options it can reduce waste
right but the customer is saying I’m paying you so why do you care about it
you just make what I’m asking you to make so there are these kind of consumer
side problems I think there are also systemic control side problems so for
example how do you incentivize so if you are
doing sustainable you know meats or segments or you know aspects of that so
you need to predict ahead of time how much food you need how much are material
you need in order for you to work in your kitchens that’s a very difficult
process I mean I think companies probably need to invest time and energy
in creating these kind of systems predictive systems if you will on how
they know precisely what is going to happen so there are both I think demand
side customer side that behavior issues can be managed but also you know
systemic side you know for example chefs in large kitchens I don’t know if they
are incentivized to minimize waste so do we give them a waste bonus for example
you know so if you cut down waste by 20% I’m going to give you a bonus we don’t
do that typically so these are potentially you
know systemic level factors that one could think of. Bloom: Well just to add on that
one one tiny bit I find in the independent operations where it’s more
of a chef owner in a restaurant they’re absolutely trying to reduce
waste because that’s cutting into their costs and their profits so if you can
set up a system where the incentive is to be as lean as possible then you’re
you’re going to have people on the same side and they’re gonna care about
minimizing waste at a larger institution it’s a little bit harder to see that
connection but I’ve found that that getting the staff in say a big
institutional kitchen on board with minimizing waste is pretty easy to do if
you talk about the implications of that food waste and you tie it in with with
food that could be donated to those in need and that’s where the redistribution
comes in into play which is happening at a lot of college campuses where food
that’s prepared but not served can then be redistributed to soup kitchens or pantries and and that that sort of gets everyone engaged on on minimizing the
excess or redistributing it. Kirshenbaum: And I’m just curious no judgment at all from us but
has anyone ever gone to a buffet and just filled up their plate and then not
really gotten through everything they’ve eaten am I the only one like that that
definitely happens and that happens time and time and time again because we’ve
set up this system to anticipate that behavior so I think part of this too is
like this cultural conversation of what we expect is normal and how we can
change our social mores so that more of us are thinking about things like food
waste when we go into these places I’m just gonna give one shout-out because
I’m sure you’ve all already thought of this in the back but if there’s any way
to lower that fan that would be really great I have a feeling I’m not the only
one who thinks so okay now back to you mentioned schools briefly and that was a
topic I’d really like to explore a little more so you talked a little bit
about it but how does food waste pertain to young people from kindergarten all
the way through college. Bloom: Yeah okay so right now in our public school system
and in most schools we’re teaching kids that food is something that can be
thrown away that it’s just another commodity in our throwaway society that
that can be tossed and I think we need to do exactly the opposite and get kids
thinking about food as something that’s precious and something that that
provides life or a chance at life and better nutrition so whether that means
being overt about having a share table for excess food that can then be
redistributed or maybe it’s it’s just sharing food with a friend if you’re not
going to eat it or even composting the excess and using the nutrients from the
compost to grow food there’s a lot we can do better and for me this is where
we need to focus because obviously our kids are the future and
instead of teaching them to value food we’re teaching them to throw it away
there is a little bit of urban myth at play with school lunch in particular and
people think that that number one everyone has to take a milk that’s not
necessarily the case you have to take three out of five items and at the same
time people think that the excess food from school lunch can’t be redistributed
but that’s also not the case so if it’s done in a safe way where the the county
or local health board is on board with the practices something as simple as
having a tray of ice water or ice for the excess milk there’s a lot we can do
better to to have kids be part of the solution of redistributing food. Krishenbaum: All right well Natalie I wanted to ask
you a little bit more about ideas like scraps to soil I mean obviously they’re
very contact context base but from what you’re learning and the groups involved
are learning about what’s been happening in this community do you think this kind
of program can be successful and adapted to cities around the u.s. and what are
some of the key considerations when thinking about trying something like
this elsewhere. Molnar: Yes they absolutely can be adapted to other communities as long
as you have a strong partnership as I mentioned and a facility like a Hammond
farms there’s just no way that you’re going to get the scale that you need
without a certified facility that can take that material and turn it into an
end product that has value so what they create there is a value-added product
and if you don’t have that resource in your community you’re not going to be
very successful with a program but it really just takes people willing to try
and that’s what fortunately the grant from the DEQ
allowed us to we had been wanting to do that for quite some time and that just
gave us you know it wasn’t a huge grant but it was enough between people that
really wanted to make it work and that little bit of money that they gave us to
get it started for us to really make the idea a reality and it’s not a huge I
wouldn’t say a huge cost program I mean certainly not for the participants it
was free for them but for the those of us that were involved in it a lot of it
you know we donated a lot of our time to be honest because it was something that
we felt strongly about and really wanted to see happen and that’s what it takes
in a lot of cities even working within city government
they’re stretched really thin but if you find that person or persons who just
have a passion for it and they’re willing to go above and beyond a little
bit that you can make it happen but the public-private partnership was really
key in our in Lansing in our situation and I would say that’s probably true for
other municipalities. Kirshenbaum: So it’s about finding those intersections and talking
to each other from these differences. Molnar: Yes talking to each other is critical
yeah. Bloom: Have you gotten any feedback from from people who say they would continue
if if it wasn’t funded like any businesses who who can see the maybe
cost savings in their regular waste bill by getting the the heavy wet food waste
out of the landfill stream? Molnar: Yes they are moving forward that’s the face that
we’re in now is meeting with each of the participants and estimating costs for
them to continue to participate as a paid service I couldn’t say honestly
that there’s going to be a huge cost savings with the way landfilling is set
up here in Michigan and specifically with our main trash
hauler we just can’t compete I mean the the price of food scrap collection
versus landfilling we had hoped that there would be real savings that we
could show them but in reality the the fees are so low for landfilling but it’s
hard to compete with that however if people really wanted to step
it up and go the extra mile which would be for them to switch to compostable
products instead of disposable in the restaurant setting I think we could see
that scale really tip to where it could be they could go down a dumpster or
reduce their dumpster size if they were willing to make that investment in
switching over but right now most of them so far are going to continue with
the service so I think it proves that the that trial one-year time that they
had with a free service was enough if not for economic benefits right now it
was enough for them to see that it worked once they got it set up and their
staff are used to it it’s a it’s a feel-good benefit and their staff really
enjoy it which always helps when employee morale you know stays good
especially in the food service industry so there are other benefits that have
been enough to get them to continue with a service so. Bloom: It’s great. Kirshenbaum I love hearing about what you’ve been doing and I love that even in small ways we’re maybe
moving the needle in a visible way here but looking beyond here Sriram
you were involved in an interesting case study about food waste with regard to
Marriott hotels and from what I understand there are Marriott hotels in
81 countries with 19 different brands so that’s a lot of different people with a
lot of different priorities franchises between them so
what do you think a company can do to promote best practices in terms of
tackling food waste when there are all these competing interests. Narayanan: Well you know
the so what we hear so if you take large companies like say Marriott or even
maybe beyond Marriott Hilton how many of these big companies at least hotel
chains are usually franchise oriented you know so they they don’t own all
these hotels and that’s sort of a big complexity you cannot impose on your
franchisees because you know it’s a very competitive business for them to go
impose on their franchisees they wouldn’t like it so that’s sort of
certainly a big factor in terms of how do you govern a set of franchisees to
make sure that you minimize waste and particularly not it’s even harder when
customers are not willing to sign up for it because you know and so then there
are also these other aspects right so for example one of the things that we
are talking about didn’t Natalie you you’re doing like you know the disposal
infrastructure is not the same throughout the country so there are
hotels in every part of the country but I think the disposal infrastructure is
not the same and the smaller hotel chains need to take ownership of you
know figuring out how to manage their food waste locally so so from from a
government standpoint I think there are there are a ton of challenges that these
kind of companies face one one thing that many of them in a and you know
having talked to a couple of them I think they’re all very serious about
food waste you look at their web sites they all have you know information put
up on what they are trying to do but I think the one of the things that I’ve
personally seen seen a shift in many of the hotels is that particular smaller
ones no more serve fresh food for breakfast
like for example they will have food that have has a longer shelf-life this
sort of one way of I guess cutting down some element of waste that you manage
shelf-life of foods and so there are there are several ways but I think each
one of them comes with with a complexity but one one thing I sort of keep hearing
some of the people talk about is this idea of source reduction right so you
you have to kill it at the source that’s probably the best way we can you can
eliminate a lot of waste if you don’t produce it there’s no there’s nothing to
waste you know so that’s certainly a very big deal and I guess we need to
figure out how to do that first yeah. Kirshenbaum: And I agree because when you’re thinking
about sources too there is all the food that maybe never makes it off the farm
but all that food how to be planted harvested cared for in between package
shipped stored refrigerated like all of these steps along the way contribute to
more than just our food waste problem conservatively very conservatively
estimated we’re losing as I think I said before 2 percent of our entire energy
budget to food that we throw away so so there are so many levels to this but I
think the source talking source is key I have I have so many questions for this
group but I think I’m gonna ask one more and then start to turn to you also think
about what you might want to be hearing about from these panelists and make it
more of a conversation between all of us but I guess back to our own food print
food print I like that word Jonathan you’ve talked a little bit about how
prevention of food waste isn’t often discussed enough as opposed to
redistribution and recycling of excess food you mentioned that earlier um so
how can we do more to waste less what aren’t we hearing about. Bloom: Oh yeah
well so just as as we as individuals and consumers are a huge part of the problem
we can be a big part of the solution so for me that’s exciting because we have
real agency here so primarily my my one overarching bit of advice is just to
connect to your food to get to know food a lot better and and if we know our food
and are more connected to it it’s going to be harder to waste it so think about
if if you’ve ever had a garden or even if you’ve bought something from a local
farmer and you’ve looked that person in the eye
and said you know thank you for for growing this and had that connection to
the food that you know you treat it differently than than just that broccoli
that you buy at the supermarket or whatever it may be and so whether it’s
growing your own or buying locally or even just cooking more having that
connection is going to help us waste less second to that it’s becoming
smarter shoppers and not buying so much food that we’re essentially guaranteeing
we waste and what that usually looks like is going to the store more often
and buying less each time being a bit more nimble with your own food supply
after that it’s it’s really important to store food properly put things in the
right place in the refrigerator and get it in the refrigerator quickly don’t
leave in the car for a few hours while you run other errands and then also be
careful with what your fridge looks like if things are really jammed together and
it’s all cluttered you’re you’re gonna lose something in the back and you’re
gonna find it months later and it’s going to be the wrong wrong color and
the wrong smell whatever it may be so yeah just being careful with our food
supply and then also being wise about portion size not only in restaurants but
it at home as well being careful about how much food you order at a restaurant
and and avoiding being put in that bad position where you you have the choice
of either overeating or wasting food and sometimes we’re given enough on our
plate that we could probably do both now obviously you can take that food home
with a doggie bag or any kind of package but some people don’t like leftovers I
have yet to understand those people but I’m trying or you might not be going
straight home so hopefully you can avoid that problem by getting the right amount
maybe sharing an entree or or asking the server what the portion sizes are
like but anyway doing that whether you’re out at at a restaurant or at home
and then finally using your freezer as a waste avoider if you have something
you’re not going to use in time you can always throw it in the freezer and just
about anything can be frozen and and brought back to life later on but the
key thing is not just to use it as a waste delayer so it doesn’t do anything
it doesn’t do any good to put it in there and throw it out a year later so
you have to remember that it’s in there so there’s so much we can do I could go
on and on but I’m sure you all have have your own tips and I’d love to hear more
about those later. Kirshenbaum: I’m feeling a little guilty I hope I’m not the only one who
occasionally finds something strange and covered and mold in the back of my
fridge and wonder how it got there and what it is but does anyone here have a
question and want to kick off the conversation yes I’ll come right on down
and tell us briefly your name and tell us briefly your name and then ask away
Tisha: Hi my name is tisha and I’m a local beekeeper and I teach alternative
beekeeping and I think that food waste is connected to the colony collapse I
just would like to connect to those two concepts agriculture is very closely
related to beekeeping and I just I’m curious what maybe you see is the
connection there between beekeeping and food waste and I’d like to talk to my
students about that and kind of knock this home with them. Bloom: Well before before I
answer can you tell me what you think it is. Tisha: Well more agriculture means more
glyphosate use means more you know neo neonicotinoids and that’s what
I see is possibly the connection with colony collapse disorder and and food
waste. Bloom: Very interesting yeah I mean I’m I’m not going to pretend to know tons
about the connection there but I think if you zoom out a tiny bit it’s knowledge
of our food system and just knowing how things
work in agriculture but also in in ecology and you know we have a
disconnect there and we as a culture have kind of stepped away from knowing
how things are interrelated and and I think as systems get disrupted with
climate change in particular that system becomes flawed and problematic and and
so there are a lot of instances where you see problems and and colony collapse
is one of them but they all need remedies that that call for unnatural
solutions and some of those are harmful some of them aren’t but I’d love to see
us minimize the need to get involved in some of these natural solutions and and
the natural systems that that work really well. Tisha: Thank you. Kirshenbaum: It’s a good
question anyone else because I yes you can do whatever makes you
comfortable. Crowd member: I don’t know if I can make this into a question but first also on
the banquet plate I’ve always talked to a couple store managers when you go to a
store no one takes the last loaf of bread
so they gotta have the full shelves otherwise the customers don’t go to the
shelves so that’s one when you talk about the demand and what have you but I
see a lot where actually composting becomes the acceptable solution where a
lot of the manufacturers a lot of households and what have you that and it’s
almost an oxymoron when you say about the the most economical answer is
probably the least one done and food waste so if you’re at a you’re at a
company you’re at a grocery store today’s apple is being sold for a price
tomorrow it sits on the shelf but it can be donated and then two days from now it
is sent to a composter who then charges the retailer so it actually becomes an
expense but if you donated it yesterday you know groups like feeding America and
what have you they pick it up for free and then I also still see it as some of
the the larger groups like The Good Food Network that’s out there waste three
sixty seventy five percent of their conversations end compost
let’s turn or turn it into fertilizer not the read redirection of product that
is still wholesome still good which has for me has no excuse as to why it can’t
be donated but it becomes even for like the animal feed or composters you know
the employer at layer employee admirer is taking it out of the cardboard box
putting that in one bin taking the plastic count clamshell goes into
another dumpster and the food goes out a couple days
later and all three of those there’s a charge to the Meijer store but the
company the food bank or the soup kitchen can come by with volunteers or
even their trucks pick it up for free and and/or tax donation so I just kinda
I don’t know where my questions could be but there seems to be the more of the
acceptance of compost as opposed to and that includes a lot of the groups like I
said like waste waste 360 and what have you but just to move the needle back up
to let’s do a redirection so I don’t know how yeah how do you move that
needle. Bloom: Yeah those are really good points and and I couldn’t agree more on trying
to shift people to do something a little bit differently at the retail level
I think the key… Crowd member: [Inaudible] Bloom: Well I think then it’s just a matter of letting people know
about those more sensible ways and incentivizing people to change their
behavior through those economic incentives and and to be it’s it’s a lot
of inertia it’s just we’ve always done it this way so this is how we’re doing
it and I don’t have time to worry about moving it to this way or the other. Crowd member: [Inaudible] Bloom: Right yeah and you do you get some
economic benefits too because you get tax deductions yeah. Narayanan: I think one of the
other things that I’ve sort of you know in the end you know we are we are all
like you know what Jonathan was saying we’re all rational beings right so
somewhat irrational but we’re rational I guess so but the thing is that how do
you design system so for example we probably could be quite creative about
it in terms of how we how we think so one is sort of this messaging to
customers saying okay here here we are we wasted so much food right up front
because I know that if you ask every one of us how many of you would think you
don’t want to waste food in just your hand raised
how many of you think you you actually waste a lot of food same people right so
I think so none of us wants to waste food right so I think there is this
messaging component to it the second thing I think is also this issue of
going back to incentives for example you know if I go to a local retail store
right and I’m sure you we all shop in local small grocery stores they’ll say
if you give me a credit card you know I’m going to charge you two percent
extra right if you give me cash I’ll probably not charge you two percent
extra so there are businesses like that so if I know I have a large contract and
I know that the waste is going to be a lot lesser if I can benchmark my data I
could tell them you know I’m going to give you two percent off if you allow me
not to fill up that plate actually you’re going to realize that these
businesses are probably going to say very much more money then I think what
what we really need are systems that nudge customers towards realizing that
there is waste otherwise our natural instinct is inertia we’ll keep doing the
same thing over and over again till the time we realize that we are
doing it you know so that’s sort of this innate and going back to the composting
you know like in supply chain we sort of we talk about lean systems and and one
of the things we say is that you know waste doesn’t come in one farm
alright so it starts from waste of movement waste of overproduction waste
of energy all that Sheril was probably talking about in terms of you know can
we go back to the source and reduce it and there’s also a lot of misinformation
here so for example let’s say you fill up the buffet once ok and so we we have
such a big tendency to fill up the buffet and if you know one day there is
more off take of food the following day we’ll go and fill up a
bigger buffet you know whether it’s we’re gonna eat or not so the waste sort
of gets magnified over time right so I think some of those can we can fix if we
sort of create these nudging mechanisms for consumers. Bloom: You know I think nudging
is important but also there’s a few really simple changes like having
smaller containers on the buffet line so that you’re not putting out as much at a
time or I’ve seen supermarkets that that have they dummy up their displays so
that it’s not like four levels of apples but it’s it’s one or two levels on top
of a platform and simple things like that certainly helps. Kirshenbaum: There’s even a lot
of marketing research that can be applied like the color of the plate
often influences the amount of food someone’s willing to put on that plate
but we have another question from this gentleman right here. Tull: I must stand my name
is John Tull and I work in collegiate and professional sports my entire career
now I don’t work on the food service side I work on the corporate partnership
side so my question is maybe this already exists but on any given Saturday
in the state of Michigan there are a couple times where in Ann Arbor and in
East Lansing there’s a hundred and ninety thousand people going to a
football game and my entire career I’ve worked in professional baseball hockey
football etc and I was always I was always curious I mean this conversation
we’re having today I mean is there a is there a training system in place right
now for the Sodexo’s the error marks of the world the food service contractors
of the world who work with all these venues these baseball stadiums these
football stadiums these arenas and and are they having conversations like this
to train so you know some attendants some games attendance is
affected by the weather some games attendance is affected by
late arriving crowds etc and so there’s all that food being prepared to be sold
at a very large price to the consumers at these games and I was just curious if
anybody has you know heardr is there any initiative to to try to curb the waste
at Spartan Stadium at Michigan stadium at Notre Dame Stadium on any given
Saturday afternoon and do something with that in real time so it makes make sense
and it works. Molnar: Are you saying like from the start in reducing the amount? Tull: Just in general like you’re planning for these events you know
you’re expecting asellout crowd at Spartan Stadium and you’re preparing you
to be concessionaires they’re preparing all this food and I’m not just talking
about hotdogs and there’s all kinds of things for sale at these games they are
going to spoil at the end of the day and I was just curious if anybody had
given any thought because this across the country you know and this is all
year long the concerts sporting events etc it’s a huge business and I would
imagine that that would be a big deal for you know the education process and
these programs to be put into place where they know how to separate and what they
can save and not save right. Molnar: Yeah I mean people are talking about it I’m sure
over here at MSU I know they’re they’ve tried to wrap their brains around it how
to deal with that by-product. Crowd member: [Inaudible] … MIS which is crazy
a lot of the amounts has a company come out at Monday the Grand Prix in Detroit
Andiamo is does a great job and they also do a great job of saving it and
then there’s a food bank that actually picks up on Belle Isle both it’s not
Chartwells I forget what their compass actually has a big program for a lot of
the their institutional but it is the its it goes back to my willingness to
donate it’s actually MSU campus speaking with aramark whoever does if
this might be self opted I don’t know but it is to say hey look this can be
donated under certain programs there’s a couple companies called like the food
donation connection out of Tennessee that actually will provide the packaging
materials specifically to food service companies to save it but yeah hot dogs
pizza stored and contained in the proper conditions can be what they call it
rescued. Bloom: Yeah there’s a there’s also a model out there through the NFL the NFL
green where especially with the Super Bowl they’ve they’ve had a few Super
Bowls in a row where it’s a zero-waste event where they’ll get everything to
the right place in terms of recycling and composting but they’ll also work
with the local food recovery organization to donate the extra food
that’s edible to the people in need so yeah there’s a lot of different
organizations out there working with with large venues because it’s just such
a fat target and it’s all that food aggregated and you think you have a
sense on the demand because you know how many tickets are sold but like you said
the weather might be one way or maybe traffic pops up so so demand is a
huge issue in this whole world of excess food. Weiss: Hi good afternoon thanks for
sharing your thoughts with us today my name is Andrea Weiss I’m with the Center
for regional food systems here at Michigan State and we’re very happy to
have you I have a question for Natalie so the compost is part of the cycle
right to feed back into the food system who gets the compost is it sold is it
donated how does that work? Molnar: So hammond farms is a for-profit company so
normally it’s sold but for this pilot it’s being donated so
the finished product is called closed-loop compost appropriately enough
so we’re donating that finished soil back to local community gardens so the
Greater Lansing Food Bank garden project is receiving a large portion of that to
divvy out to their various community gardens the Ingham County Land Bank is
the other major partner receiving that finished soil. Adelaja: Hi so we’re such an
such an elitish society and they’re restaurants high-end and low-end that
may be motivated to donate their food but they’re kind of apprehensive that
they may be sued so is there a process in place or any research that may guide
these restaurants to be more you know more conscious in in donating their
fruits is not going to waste. Bloom: I’m so glad you asked that that’s awesome
yes there’s a there’s a federal shield law called the bill Emerson Good
Samaritan Act passed in 1996 and that protects anyone from liability who
donates food that they deemed to be in good condition to a nonprofit
organization so there’s you’re right there’s this
total sense that the restaurants or caterers are putting themselves at risk
when they donate food but that is a bit of urban myth and it’s it’s overblown I
don’t really know where that started I’m not
heard of one lawsuit where where someone’s actually putting that statute
to the test by yeah exactly it no one has ever done that it’s it’s like
literally and figuratively well maybe not literally biting the hand
that that’s feeding you and you know who’s going to do that but even if
someone were to test it there the donor is protected from liability. Garcia: Hello panel and thanks for the
information incredibly insightful my name is Joe Garcia I’m the executive
director at Cristo Rey community center and at our center we feed a lot of
people and and we provide food for many who are struggling but here’s my general
question well first a fact than a question my understanding is that we
here in the United States wastes 15 times the amount of food that let’s say our
African counterparts waste we here are very competitive in the u.s. we like to
be leaders but in if food waste or to minimize food waste was a race who’s
winning across the world here who’s doing the best job and what what are
they doing do you guys have any insight or maybe if you don’t maybe industry
who’s who’s taken lead in in in tackling food waste do you have any anything to
share in that topic I really don’t know Bloom: Yeah well I mean I think we’re winning
in terms of wasting food we’re leading the way there no obviously I’m kidding
yeah it’s tied in a lot with the cost of food and no nation spends as little on
food as we do here and and so that’s a big driver of why we don’t really treat
our food with care we’re not careful with it because when you look at the
percentage of our household spending that goes toward food it’s less than ten
percent and and as I said cheaper than any other place but when you draw a
broad comparisons in the developing world there’s a lot less waste because
the opposite is true because it’s it’s more dear to those people so
there’s that although there’s a lot less so that sorry there’s a lot more loss in
the food chain because there’s worse infrastructure and less of a cold chain
etc etc but a few countries that I would say are leading the way in the developed
world that we might look to for solutions France Denmark and Britain are
all doing pretty interesting things some of those places at the policy level
where they’ve passed some laws that make it mandatory to donate food for example
in in France and Italy and and there’s a lot more at play
culturally say in in Britain where they they remember the shortages of the
1960’s where we remember the excesses and the abundance of that period so
there’s yeah there’s there’s definitely some exemplars out there. Molnar: But it’s an
entirely different lifestyle I mean I would say just from visiting family that
live in Italy their entire life I mean they’re living in apartments that are
700 square feet their kitchen consists of a little what we would call a dorm
size refrigerator you know they have to go to the supermarket every or not
supermarket they don’t have supermarkets but they go to the market every three or
four days because that’s all the food that they can store and cook in that
time period where there’s no incentive here in the US I mean when Costco opened
over here how many people did they sign up like before they even opened I mean
we love that stuff Americans love it being able to go fill your car up store
it all in your basement your pantry you know in in Europe you get you don’t have
that ability you don’t have a car a lot of times to go and get your ginormous
pack of toilet paper I mean so there’s just so many other constraints and just
lifestyle choices that it’s hard to make a real comparison when
you know we would have to voluntarily constrain ourselves. Narayanan: And I think it’s
sort of a couple of different ways when we say food waste certainly there is
this finished food that’s one part of it but then like what I think John’s now
saying if you go back into you know harvesting all the way from there like
if you go to countries like India one of the big problems is that not all the
harvest reaches the market or gets processed right so I think if you you
waste a lot of food there that’s also a problem so I think at least in the
United States it sounds to me like there’s the the consumption and
processed food is sort of a big waste element but I guess in other countries
which are very populous you know they they are trying to minimize this problem
of like if you don’t have good coal chain facilities then you’re gonna have
a lot more rotten for by the time it reaches the market and you sort of have
to throw it away so there are all these different components which sort of make
it hard to compare that’s one and certainly I I think it’s true that in in
in countries like India even when you go to a restaurant so I I came here 15
years ago and one of the biggest surprises I always had when I went to a
restaurant was the ginormous portion sizes I would get for the dollars I pay
thinking why would I eat so much stuff I don’t want it can you cut it in half
they would not want to give me any half right so sort of now I’m pretty I would
say I’m an American because that’s what I eat know so I’m sort of converted in
my habits into something like that I guess but even though you try to
minimize rest but yeah that’s also a cultural attribute to that I guess yes.
Harper: So I know I definitely agree sorry my name is Abby Harper I’m with MSU
Extension I definitely agree that there’s a lot we can do in the supply
chain to reduce the amount of food we waste but at the end of the day there
will still be food waste in home kitchens whether it’s scraps or stems or
whatever and Natalie I know you mentioned that we weren’t really at the
point when you evaluated to get a kind of community-wide curbside pickup in
Lansing I’m wondering if you could give some
thoughts on what it would take to get to that level of being able to have a kind
of municipal wide curbside composting pickup. Molnar: Trucks lots of nice trucks a lot
of it’s equipment and then a lot of it is labor of course when you got city
employees that’s a huge cost but then we just don’t have the the capability to
collect wet soggy material so the current trucks would not work they’ve
tried different things Ann Arbor has a curbside collection where they mix their
yard waste with their food waste I think something like that could work
and they’re fully subscribed so Ann Arbor as far as I know no one else can
sign up for their program you’re shaking your head a little no never mind but I
think that’s a good model mixing it in with the yard waste because people are
already used to doing that and putting it out and then you would run into a
seasonal issue so yard waste collection only runs you know April through October
and you’re gonna have food scraps year-round so what do you do the rest of
the time but at least that would be a start and then we would have to work
with a private entity like Hammond farms because we don’t have a site in Lansing
where we could take that material they’ve assessed it so they have looked
at properties that could potentially work but you get you know residents
don’t want a compost drop-off near their property line for obvious reasons but so
working with a private entity and mixing it in with the yard waste I think would
be a good model and there’d be a lot of education that goes along with that so
you always have contamination issues just like we do with the recycling
program you know so how do we provide the education and the materials to get
people over that initial hump and moving in that direction. Karla: All right
I actually I my name is Karla and I’m the residential hospitality services
sustainability officer and I wanted to go back a little bit we were talking
about some of the athletic venues and given this Michigan State on that sign
right there I wanted to talk a little bit about that because it seems that we
don’t there’s a lot more things happening MSU and RHS that we do have
food waste programs and you write the Sodexo’s and I know this gentleman over
here with the compass and aramarx they do have programs when it comes to higher
education some of these other organizations do have that we’re self
operated here at MSU and so these are programs that we have here so currently
I have chef Kurt back there it also works here in RHS where for the last six
years we do have food collection programs and we estimate can have closed
loop circles about 800,000 pounds a year we have partnerships with a student
organic farm that gets two or three hundred thousand pounds we purchase it
they make compost we purchase it back we buy the food back so we essentially have
closed food loop programs running in our dining halls there’s nine full-scale
dining halls fifty thousand students here thirty thousand meals a day they
have to be boutique applications of course because of our growing seasons
and things that we have and the donation piece is something that we partner with
the local community as well and a tune to the parish book was about 80,000
pounds a year and the non-perishables will be collected four thousand when the
students moved out so there’s a lot of things that are going on but you’re
right the the composting piece is even a challenge for us because we have people
think MSU we have a lot of land well it’s all taken for something you know
these are things that we’re trying to work out to figure out what to do with
our food waste as well and I think I saw Dana in the group as well where we are
sending it to the digester for energy so the benefit that we get is what we’re
hoping to work with our students is the academic tie-in piece and that’s our
University’s mission is how can we get these students to walk the walk they’re
getting the education but how can they get the operational experience to those
types of things to learn so the students in the rise program they live all over
in the Brody neighborhood are capturing the see the food waste are
making compost are growing it and they hit an entrepreneurship opportunity to
work with RHS to sell that stuff back to us and you know garden tables and things
like that and and we see the drive of the students wanting this more and more
and more but the expectation when students come on board is well you
should have this in place already is what I’m finding and so ok they don’t
really want to help it but they’ll do it you know help start it so they’ll be a
part of it but kicking it started and we get a new clientele about every four
years because they rotate a lot so the you know they do have these organizers
and the same thing with the knish you the Spartans we collect the food waste
at the end of the night how many hot dogs have we’ve collected the hot dogs
are separated from the buns and they go to the food bank and then the buns are
obviously composted so that’s what happens it’s just it’s getting people to
want to know this information it’s getting it out there and a constant
basis to let people know there’s a lot of good happening but it’s always like
yeah yeah yeah it’s happening you know though so that’s what I struggle with on
a daily basis is figuring it out and I partner with the facility here and they
are my drivers and they’re picking up that food waste and we’re dealing with
how to make it safe how can we be effective to do those types of things so
some of the concern that we have to like incentivize you’re saying how could we
incentivize well I work with a lot of union contracts sometimes it gets a
little trickier and how to get people to want to do the right thing you know to
help our save our costs because food prices are going up just as fast and
these are things that we’re looking at so my question is to you is what is the
expectation as we’re learning for this food waste in in curbing this food waste
I guess where do you whether you see the future of that as far as you know
besides composting you know when you brought it to light you’re right we’re
so quick to compost than we are to try to be preventative so you let the easy
way out do you see the future of this becoming a norm i watch the TEDx talk
that said don’t be that guy it’s starting to be like the smoking in
the bottle bottle deposit wall where if you’re gonna litter
that guy it’s not cool anymore if your food waste and you’re throwing that away
you’re not cool anymore and I think that’s where we’re trying to go I hope
people don’t like to have lunch with me because I eat all their food. Bloom: Ah, I know that feeling yeah. Karla: I guess it really is a question
it’s just that when all that conversation went around I speak for the
University because that’s what I do and I just had to put that out there that we
are striving for those types of things it’s just a lot of it’s quiet a lot of
things just don’t seem to be that it’s not on the news that’s not what people
want to see they’d rather see they probably bad things but exactly all
right. Molnar: Because it is cultural for sure if everyone has an expectation and they’ve
been doing it this way for so long not many people are gonna rock the boat they
don’t like to stand out typically. Karla: And that’s exactly we said change and so we
have students here from all around the world that have expert backgrounds where
you know from every country you can imagine they come here and to try to
teach them our culture and what we do or in to give them is definitely the
challenge language barriers education maybe some recycle at home some don’t
but what I’m finding is the the better populations that come in they are
learning that in their elementary schools now so all of us going trayless
is where we’re getting that we’re closer to doing that the students coming
through elementary schools now are trayless so by the time they get here
they’re not gonna care that’s great it’s my full-time staff that want the trays
back because they’re used to it you know it’s just. Bloom: Well I think you just
it’s working on changing the mindset and you said that the clientele changes
every four years at maximum but I think that can be also a strength and
absolutely you know if you change something over the summer then the
incoming class doesn’t know that you used to have trays and and and then a
good amount of the people who are used to trays have moved off campus and so
they’re not around to complain. Karla: They move off campus then they regret it and they
want to come back yeah yeah you fed me so well. Bloom: But I do think getting students
to care is so important and there are
plenty of ways you can do that through raising awareness getting them to see
how taking too much food is part of the problem and you know you could I’ve seen
people do awareness materials on the table I’ve seen people have a waste way
in the middle of the the dining hall where people are actually forced to
scrape their their plate waste into a bin on a big scale and it’s a real
visual reminder of here’s how much you took we as a class or as a school took
that is is going to be composted instead of going to someone who could have used
it. [Inaudible] cool. It’s like a quarter pound per meal roughly. [Inaudible] Narayanan: You know one one of the things that sort
of I this is not this has got probably nothing to do with food but something’s
still interesting right so increasingly you know we are living in a very data
ritual right so we teach analytics and stuff like that to all our students but
I think what would be interesting and sort of overcoming cultural barriers
we’re gonna understand what kind of behaviors work right so when we say nudging I think it’s really a question of trying something out and figuring out
whether it worked you don’t have to do it on a mass scale like you know MSU has
so many different eating joints but maybe in some small place you could run
experiments on what really work with students so for example maybe we could
put a badge on I didn’t waste food today you know if you didn’t waste food today
or maybe for a month just go put a label up and be proud of it you know like
whatever just saying right they love stickers right right and so so one thing
to think of is how can we sort of keep making these adjustments and can we
actually gather evidence because then we sort of are able to know what is working
what is working more what is working less I think that you know for example
large companies that sort of make changes to their websites often will do
basic experiments they’ll change the layout they look at hit rates what’s
going on things like that so I feel like that mindset of experimentation can
really help that you know we we don’t want to you know we know changing culture is
difficult but there’s so small things and you know study what happens when you
do these small things and keep keep at it I guess that sort of one … [Inaudible] that’s right [Inaudbile] right. Molnar: Probably I mean theyprobably do honestly what if you made every student had to cook a meal you
make them go in the kitchen. Karla: yeah [inaudible]. Bloom: You can also uh oh go ahead. Molnar: Well we talked about
earlier the connection to food we have lost the connection to where food comes
from and what real food even is I mean it’s I try not to gawk at people in the
checkout line at the grocery store but when I’m seeing everything you put on
the conveyor belt is a packaged processed item that’s not even real food
I can’t help myself like what are you putting into your body
but people don’t even think about it anymore that’s food to them it comes in
a box and it can be microwaved and ready in ten minutes or less yep. Karla: [Inaudible] Chase: Hi I’m Phil
Chase I work for the Michigan Department of Education I really appreciate the
talk today and I especially appreciated the talk earlier on about schools and
about changing habits among students and this may be a little bit of a
continuation from some of the points that were just made and my question is
this what so thinking about changing habits of students and modeling and
teaching them and making them understand that food is a precious commodity and
not something that’s easily disposable what experiences have you had and
therefore what advice would you have for engaging the educators because all we
know what we know is k12 educators are one not the only but one major source of
you know getting kids to have better knowledge about of thinking better
habits about a thing and then if you don’t have many good experiences
whatever they’re some of your frustrations trying to engage educators?
Bloom: Yeah great question there I’m gonna think from my experience educators are
quite happy to have someone come in and take the students off their hands for a
minute whether it’s to talk about food or to be hands-on in helping plant seeds
and grow food getting kids involved in in vegetable gardens I think is a key
first step and you know it doesn’t take much in terms of resources you could
build a raised bed really inexpensively and whether or not that food gets back
into the cafeteria is is another story and there’s a lot of red tape there but
it’s pretty easy to have kids grow food see the results and and eat those those
vegetables or whatever they may be on the spot a few months later and so
drawing those connections I think is key and just just shifting the the model a
little bit away from like we’re saying before the processed foods and and the
the patties and and other assorted food like items in the cafeteria and
getting a little more scratch cooking in schools will certainly go a long way
toward making kids more food wise and and more connected to their food you
know it’s easy to say in in a liberal college town that you know we should get
our school food a larger budget and have more scratch cooking but if you tie it
into to health and and health care costs in this country if we keep going down
the same path we’re going to have a huge crisis with obesity and and we need to
change something there if you throw in the bonus that you’re also creating
better consumers and and healthier kids and better better eaters then to me it
seems like a no-brainer and a great way to to spend your resources as a
community or a school system so yeah it seems like something that we’ll only
tackle more and more in the future and and one final thing if you can tie in
the curriculum to the garden or to cooking or say home economics you know
there’s a lot you can teach through food and that’s one way to really to find an
excuse for some teachers to get into some of those food education topics. Narayanan: I
think the thing that I was thinking of is food certainly has a direct
connection to your health right so if you overeat none of us are you know or
if you under it so at least in the u.s. I think obesity is a problem but if you go to a country like India there is both problems right there’s a huge chunk of population that is obese because they
they have a lot of food availability but there is also a huge chunk of population
that’s seriously malnourished they have no food so there are both problems
existing in the same society at the same time right so I think there that in some
ways I feel like there is this basic sense of regulation I’m gonna eat what I
need rather than you know force kids to overeat or you know say you eat more
you’re gonna grow you know maybe not not necessarily true so some of that I think
really from our own ability to understand
what’s our connection to food I guess. Molnar: Yeah I would say in Michigan it’s very
challenging because we we tried to work with some of the food suppliers for the
schools and they were not interested in changing their process at all
so when efficiency is your primary motivation there and you’ve got a
central location preparing food for thirty-plus schools that have no
facilities anymore set up to actually cook and prepare food you know yeah I
mean really we need to take back the cooking and the food prep and put it in
the schools again because now all the cafeteria staff are doing is warming
things up and putting it out there and that’s become the expectation so I mean
we’ve there are lots of gardens in schools and Lansing and that’s not
cutting it I mean the kids aren’t eating any better in those schools unless
they’ve got a teacher who’s really interested in that topic and they take
the time and make the effort to incorporate it into their curriculum and
they take their students out there because it’s hard I mean it takes
getting the kid to try a grape tomato over and over and over until finally
hopefully they like it or at least they’ll eat it because they’re not used
to that you know at least here in Lansing and I would say that’s probably
pretty true for other urban areas in Michigan that what they eat at home is
pretty much what they’re getting through the school lunch system that’s a
processed packaged food that can just be warmed up and put on a plate so I mean
I’m not saying it can’t be overcome it certainly can but it’s going to take
work and it’s going to take time and getting the whole family involved
because if they are only getting it at school and then they go back home and
it’s the same sort of thing that’s their that’s their culture is what they’re
getting at home so even if they’re they’re getting
good breakfast and lunch you know they’re gonna go back to what their family what they’re used to. Crowd member: [Inaudible]. Molnar: Yeah yeah yeah I mean nutritionally of course it’s
meeting the standards and they’re getting the calories that they need from
it but it’s not what we would call real food necessarily. Crowd member: Hi there thank you very much panel for being here too and this topic is very near and dear to my heart
but I want to zoom out just a little bit and say what’s happening at the state
level with organics recycling Michigan has just become a chapter of the United
States composting council which is a really big deal and that happened in May
of 2017 Michigan will be host to compost operator training course right here on
the campus of MSU coming in July last two days of July in first two days of
August the next point I want to make is to draw your attention to next take a
look at the food waste hierarchy or it is through the EPA it’s titled food
waste hierarchy on the very top of that is reduction we’ve talked about that a
little bit here today – reduction is top that’s number one food waste reduction
and wasted food and food waste are two different things – by the way but
reduction and then food recovery and then food to people food to animals food
for energy so Dena’s the system here on the campus for ad anaerobic digestion is
even above composting so composting next and I’m a composter so composting is
just above land filling so that’s the hierarchy so when you think of that
hierarchy and the Institute for local self-reliance is a great resource – so
take a look at that hierarchy thank you thanks everybody. Crowd member: Thanks I’m glad to hear that you are
doing compost training and somebody had said you know compost compost compost
you know that seems to be the answer and you asked about what would it take for
Lansing to get a curbside compost program
you said trucks trucks trucks I mean and that’s true
but we have to think about what I would like you guys to think about is what are
we gonna do with it afterwards you can collect it I mean if the whole state and
just started to compost their food what are we gonna do with it there’s got to be an
outlet and the infrastructure for that before we think about just collecting. Kirshenbaum:
it’s a good point and we have one more from Catalina Bartlett. Bartlett: Hi everyone
my name is Catalina Bartlett and I’m a professor here at Michigan State
University and I just wanted to speak a little bit to the higher ed component
because I’ve been piloting in my classroom of food studies course for
first-year students and so we’re wrapping up another semester here in a
few weeks some of the students are here and I won’t make them talk but they’ve
been doing some very interesting projects some blogs and now they’re
working on some multimedia and multimodal projects one of their blogs
was on food waste and the others were they took a recipe from their family and
sort of broke it down and then the third blog was about food and its relationship
to the profession that they’re considering and so the idea I think that
we can pass on knowledge and actually they have lots of knowledge that they
already bring to the classroom and already know in some instances a lot
more than I do certainly on the multimodal front but I
just wanted to say that even that we’re just sort of trying to make our own dent
into this issue here just in in this in the few classes that I’ve taught and
that we work with food at MSU – as a partner
kind of get writing and rhetoric out there and use it as a way to inform and
educate others so while they’re educating themselves and I’m educating
myself hopefully their work is also going to be educating others so thank
you. Bloom: That’s awesome where can we see those blogs where can we find those? Kirshenbaum: I can put you two in touch and thank you Catalina we’re very privileged
to be able to work with faculty like Catalina as we go forward with food at
MSU there is so much more that I would love and we would love to touch on and
we’ve already started to go over time so I would just like to first thank the MSU
surplus and recycling center for allowing us to have this event here and
giving us this wonderful backdrop to have this conversation and then of
course love to think if everyone would join me in thanking Jonathan Natalie and
Sriram for being here and everyone involved in food at MSU and our table
for doing a spectacular job setting up and designing that menu to get us
thinking about how we can waste a little less food with some of the things we
often would throw away and and finally thank everyone here for coming and being
a part of this conversation and there will be many more of these to come on
all sorts of topics so please do stay involved and many of us I mean we’ll all
be here so if anyone wants to talk to us after this panel we would love to meet
you as well so thank you so much

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