Final Reflections Blog (4/9/13)

It went something like this: “Do you know what we are doing here today? We are running a food waste awareness campaign. We formed partnerships with a couple local bakeries and restaurants and they donated food to us that they would have thrown out last night. All the food you see here would instead be in landfills today. We are bringing it to you so you see how perfectly edible, delicious and nutritious it still is… Do you have an idea about how much food waste we produce as a nation?”… 

Amazingly, most people paid close attention to what I had to say. Never before had I been to an event where people actually wanted to learn more – maybe because food is so near and dear to our hearts that the thought of all that yummy food being in the trash was something that they just couldn’t make sense of. I am pretty sure that, for that moment with us, our audience felt repulsed and angry, and wanted to change their behavior and the behavior of others. It is hard to say what happened to each individual as they walked away – did they retain our message and work on their habits; or did they munch away on the bagel and move on to whatever they were dwelling on before? Impossible as this is to answer, I hope that our choice of giveaways has a direct impact with our audience at home.

I thoroughly enjoyed our event and believe we accomplished what we set out to do. We have learned a whole lot about food waste and have passed that knowledge on to others in our community. Within the time span that we had to complete this project this semester (very brief 3 months), I could not be more satisfied with our most important deliverable – a sharp yet simple event that was created by each and every one of us and executed to a measure barely short of perfection.

I am very proud to have been part of this project and feel blessed to have been a part of this class – for all that I have learned and for having met some amazing individuals who renew my faith in humankind and let me believe that one day, food waste will have been history. (Sarah Muller)

I can’t say enough…(4/7/13)

Seriously, I can’t say… at least not very effectively. You see, I am generally a quiet person, so talking for almost two straight hours about food waste has left my voice somewhat coarse. So, since I’m temporarily impaired from speaking, I’m going to write this blog.

Event Photo - Full Group 1
Org Dynm 615, armed with free food and powerful information

Our food waste awareness event was an amazing success. Our project team, also known as DYNM615 in the Organizational Dynamics program, put together a feast of excess food by collecting donations from local vendors. Even after a semester of studying the global food waste issue, we were amazed at the amount of quality food that was heading for the landfill. Armed with totes, magnets, and T-shirts in addition to A LOT of food, we invited students to stop by for some free gifts and food. Shortly after setting up, we had a crowd of people stopping at our table.

Event Photo Our Table and Students in Action
Org Dynm 615, armed with free food and powerful information

I had expected that giving away free food would attract hungry college students, so the crowd didn’t surprise me much. However, what did surprise me was that after people realized why we were there and understood that the food giveaways were originally destined for the landfill… they didn’t leave. A highly energized project team told the story of food waste over and over. Guests leaned in to be able to hear the team members over the crowd noise. Some people asked to be contacted for future efforts, others asked follow-up questions to better understand how this could be true, and many just shook their heads in disbelief. Facial expressions told the story fully, as guests at our table displayed emotions of shock, disgust, and in some cases, anger.

Do I think that raising awareness will change behaviors? If this event is any indication, you bet it will!

The amount of food we collected from just a few vendors was appalling. The use of technology to spread the word via websites, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter was phenomenal. The video was superb and highly impactful. The production of “free giveaways” items from design through deliver was excellent. The energy, teamwork, and cohesive effort to make an impact on this global issue were unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Even if I had my voice fully intact, I still wouldn’t be able to say enough about this project team and what they accomplished through the Spring 2013 semester and on the afternoon of Thursday, April 4, 2013…

Miraculous Green Onions (3/30/13)

Every now and then (more like every week) I get both leeks and green onions in my farm share box. Green onions are super yummy and delicious, but I find that there is only so much I can do with them and I eventually end up making the same things over and over again – and I am human, so I got bored. 

So I decided to consult Dr. Google to see if anyone else had the same issues or had extra green onions and what they do with them. I discovered a lot, but to my surprise, the most amazing thing I learned is that you can simply put your green onions in a glass of cold water and they will stay fresh and beautiful for as long as you want (as long as they have roots, they will continue to grow).

Green Onions
Green Onions

Here is what I am trying to say: place your beautiful green onions in a large beer glass (yes, beer glass! it looks great) with water to cover the roots. Then whenever you want to use them just cut the amount you need off with scissors. In the photo there are two bunches. In the one on the right you can see where I snipped it because one branch didn’t grow. From last week until today, that is how much they have grown!!! The bunch to the left is the one I just got today and I snipped them so they can grow as well.  (I’ll be making beef broth with them, so look for that in my next post!)

It is quite amazing to see nature working its magic right in my house.  (Sarah Muller)

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)

Tips for Freezing Fruit (3/15/13)

1. Pick your fruit: if the fruit has a very high water content, it might become limp when defrosted.

2. Make sure you clean and dry them really well!

Frozen grapes
Frozen grapes

3. Label! This is a very important habit you must develop when you start freezing foods. Always research the web to look for the lifetime of foods in the freezer.

Frozen fruit in a labeled jar
Frozen fruit in a labeled jar

4. Defrost for at least 30 minutes before use.

5. The best idea is to use these fruits in smoothies so that they have the consistency of a shake!

6. Enjoy! (Sarah Muller)

Frozen oranges
Frozen oranges