You Can Make a Difference! (4/10/13)

I feel as though various problems within the world seem so astronomical (which many are) because a person does not feel like they can have a direct personal impact. As a result, there is little desire to feel inclined to institute change. There is a stigma that it is impossible to solve a problem so global and large scale in nature, so why bother trying to help? This mentality is completely wrong and I could not have been more fortunate to be a part of this Global PENNovation class within the Organizational Dynamics Masters Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

I can admit to my guilt and ignorance of the issue of food waste. I was that individual who would not take home leftovers from a restaurant and if I did, I knew they would not be consumed and would just be thrown away at a later date. I was that consumer who would enter a supermarket scouring for the best looking produce, ignoring those with any minor indication of a blemish or reaching for the milk carton with the latest expiration date. I was guilty of all of these things because I was unaware and not held accountable for my actions.

You can make a difference!

After seeing our efforts come to fruition at our food waste recovery campaign, Pheedin’ Philly which was held here on Penn’s Campus on 4/4/13, I can truly say that I feel I have made a difference beginning with myself. Students were intrigued with our event and could not believe the amount of food we recovered from local vendors that would have been thrown away otherwise. To my surprise, many Penn students who I spoke with were aware of this issue and very informed which was enlightening to hear. For those who were less familiar, they were willing to listen and express their thoughts on possible actions we as consumers can make. This expressed interest was refreshing. This class may not have solved world hunger, but I feel as though we definitely instilled a message to hundreds of people who stopped by our event. I am extremely pleased with the outcome of our efforts and know that I have learned a monumental amount from our professors and guest lecturers and will definitely use this knowledge to keep myself informed and I will pass it on to others. (Lindsay Cull)


One of Those Questions (3/27/13)

Not sure how to describe this?
Not sure how to describe this?

My eldest son asked me “why are all these apples lying on the ground?” while enjoying a family day out at an orchard farm. I was speechless for a few moments trying to think about an answer that would make sense to him and the rest of the world.

Every day we drive through neighborhoods where families are suffering from hunger and, I am confident, parents don’t find an easy answer when a child cries, “there is plenty of food out there, why don’t we have some?”

Hunger is a pressing global challenge and it seems like we are not optimizing our resources. For example, we only consume 60% of the food we produce, and 40% is wasted. Many resources are also wasted along the journey. Our behavior towards food isn’t sustainable and we are simply not considering or assessing the consequences of the decisions that we make today on the well-being of our children and grandchildren let alone the hungry people around every corner.

Being in an orchard is a pleasant experience, but I am not sure if I am teaching my children the right thing. It would a different experience if I could walk them through an orchard that embraces sustainable practices. For example, I would feel better if they were using the “ugly fruit” to make juice, donating excess produce…etc.

It is only a matter of time before we’re forced to seriously consider our attitude towards food.  We need proactive change that will help prevent undesirable natural and health consequences that will directly impact the quality of life of our future generations.  (Amr Buckly)

No Food Left Behind! (3/26/13)

An interesting fact learned in my Organizational Dynamics class focusing on Food Recovery is that “food thrown out in the US – by households, supermarkets, restaurants, and convenience stores – would have been enough to satisfy every single one of the world’s malnourished people two times over.” (Stuart 2009) Although this statistic did not mention food thrown away from departmental functions across organizations, I can imagine this would factor in greatly to the amount of food wasted on a daily basis. Within my department alone, although we tend to be very conscientious of the amount of food we order per attendee, sometimes leftovers are inevitable. Because of my increased awareness of the amount of food that is wasted per year, I have focused my efforts on changing my daily lifestyle and what I can do to help make a difference, beginning with myself.

Leftover Primo Hoagies
Leftover Primo’s Hoagies


As you can see from the pictures, these were leftover Primo’s Hoagies that I brought home that went unconsumed at a department event. I encouraged another co-worker to take half and I took the other half. Not only were these hoagies consumed that night (Thursday) for dinner but also on Sunday night with an array of other leftover foods that were pulled from the refrigerator including, salad that many would have thrown out although it was still good, chicken quesadillas from Saturday night, and rice from a previous meal.

Primo Hoagies Meal
Leftover Primo’s Hoagies

Before running to the food store, take the time to look through your Freezer/Fridge/Pantry to see what meals can be concocted. Be creative and go food shopping in your own house to use up the food you have. You would be amazed at what you can pull together. Not only are you saving food, but you are saving money! (Win Preechawutthidech)

Creativity in the Pantry (3/21/13)

Today I realized that the only fresh ingredients I had in my fridge were half an onion and some rosemary. I was a little desperate since I didn’t want to go out for lunch, nor did I want to go grocery shopping. So I had to come up with something tasty and nutritious cooked with ingredients from my pantry.

Turns out that with a little creativity, you can go a long way. I have always wanted to make an Indian dish but I was intimidated by the complexity of flavors of their gastronomic culture. I actually have all the spices you need for an Indian dish because I keep thinking I will venture into the unknown. I guess the time had come: I had some red lentils, canned tomatoes and some tofu leftover from lunch the day before.

In less than half an hour, I whipped up a delicious red lentil, tomato, tofu, curry yummy-ness. I cooked the lentils in a small pan with turmeric and chili powder. In a sautéing pan, I sautéed mustard seeds, onions, tomato and lots and lots and lots of spices (cumin, coriander, chili, turmeric and curry – which has some of the same spices in it)! When the lentils were still covered in water but cooked, I mixed this tomato “paste” with some tomato juice from the can into the pan and added the tofu so it would cook in the liquid and all the flavors would blend together.

I am seriously impressed with this meal. It was fast, 95% cooked with pantry ingredients, delicious, nutritious, and creative. And forgive me, but I was so hungry that I did not think about photographing it. Guess you will have to try your own recipe to see it and believe it! (Sarah Muller)

Breakfast in Bed (3/19/13)

Mom and Dad with breakfast leftovers
Mom and Dad with breakfast leftovers

When my parents rolled in to visit this weekend, in addition to bringing me birthday presents they also came bearing breakfast leftovers. My mom said she got a weird look when she asked the waitress to wrap up two pancakes, home fries, and two pieces of whole wheat toast.

Old potato
Old potato

Saturday night we bought eggs, and my mom asked if I had any potatoes or onions. I actually had a sad looking potato that I knew needed to be cooked soon and we decided onion powder would have to work. The next morning I woke up to the smell of hash browns cooking. My mom had the pancakes warming up in the toaster oven and she taught me how to make a faux-syrup out of brown sugar, vanilla flavoring, hot water, and butter. When we were done we had a feast of scrambled eggs, pancakes, home fries, and toast for three. It was delicious!

I think a lot of people end up tossing perfectly good food, because they’re not as adept at reheating and reusing leftovers as my mom. So, next time you see a waiter or waitress about to sweep perfectly good breakfast food into the trash, remember with a few additional ingredients you could have a whole other meal. And, who knows, if you hang with the right crowd you may even get breakfast in bed 🙂 (Lauren Hirshon)

Our Breakfast Feast
Our Breakfast Feast

Spreading Cheer, One Meal At a Time (3/18/13)

The act of giving is often underestimated (in my opinion) and I always find a random act of kindness is greatly appreciated. A simple door hold or smile will do, but I wanted to take it up a notch and also continue in my efforts of reducing food waste. Today was a day I decided to spread some cheer to those who didn’t see it coming. As mentioned in a previous blog, I often have food left over from events (trying to cut down on this as a whole!). As my event this afternoon came to an end, I noticed there were going to be left over boxed lunches (even though I ordered for less than the number of YES responses we got). Normally, we would leave the food for the caterer to pick up and other times they would unfortunately be thrown out, but not today. I brought boxes and a cart with me in hopes we would have extra, with the plan to re-distribute. As I packed up my cart, I walked the halls and campus, offering free sandwiches and salads to those I came in contact with. I am pretty sure I made the day of two security guards and a few hungry Penn students. Not only was I satisfied with my food waste reducing efforts, it truly made me feel good about this random act of kindness. Although these individuals may not have been struggling economically or with hunger, I do believe they were appreciative, saved a few bucks on lunch and were impressed by my efforts as I made them aware of our food recovery efforts. Hopefully, these individuals will pay it forward after receiving this random act of kindness. Maybe next time they think about throwing out their piece of fruit or snack that comes along with their lunch, they will give it to a friend. (Liz Manotti)

What’s for Dinner? Rice Bowl! (3/14/13)

One night for dinner my girlfriend and I decided to raid the fridge instead of going out. After a few minutes it became clear that any meal we put together would have to be a hodge-podge of leftovers. So, we decided on a rice bowl. We had enough vegetables in the fridge to throw together and create what turned out to be a pretty impressive meal. We used shallots found in the bottom of the crisper, half a red pepper, a green pepper, and some baby carrots that have been in the fridge for a tad longer than they should have. While the rice was cooking I began to ‘stir fry’ the vegetables in a pan with some oil. When they began to soften we added some soy sauce to give the vegetables a bit of an ‘Asian’ taste. We then topped the rice with the vegetables and added an egg on top for a little flare. I prefer my egg over-easy and then if you break the yolk while the meal is hot, the yolk will cook a little for a nice treat. (Josh Shannon)