Wednesday, 7 November 2007
Viva la revolucion! One tray at a time...
I found this picture on the internet, but it could very well be taken from the downstairs dining hall in NYU's Weinstein residence hall. Every time I visit this all-you-can-eat dining hall, I am absolutely shocked at the amount of food people throw away -- slices of pizza with one bite taken out of them, melting ice cream that's hardly been picked at, hamburgers that have been ever-so- slightly nibbled. It's decadent and disgusting, and I'm truly bewildered by it. Earlier this evening, I went to a discussion on sustainable dining at NYU (part of Footprint Forward); NYU head chef Jeramie Garlick said, if I understood him correctly, that in just one NYU dining hall, students throw away about 300 pounds of food waste daily. Didn't anyone else's mother tell her not to put any more food on her plate than she thought she could eat? If we keep on like this, pretty soon we will be drowning in garbage, wading through half eaten slices of pizza to get to class and slipping on melted ice cream on our way home. Shock, shock! Horror, horror!
Seriously, though, this wastefulness is pretty darn atrocious. So what can we do about it? This weekend at the Real Food Summit, I learned that when they got rid of trays in the all-you-can-eat dining halls at St. Joseph's College, food waste decreased two to three ounces per student! It may not seem like much, but it certainly adds up. It makes sense: when you can only take as much food as you can put on one plate, you will think before going back for seconds, and be more likely to finish all that you take. The water saved by not having to wash the trays is merely the icing on the cake.
It's time for all-you-can-eat NYU dining halls to go tray-less. So simple, so subtle -- and a considerable decrease in wasted food!
I brought it up in the discussion I mentioned earlier, and Jeramie Garlick said that they had actually talked to the NYU about this idea before, but that it had been shot down out of consideration for people with disabilities who might have a hard time without trays. I do not fully understand this, but in any case it's important to take into account. However, I think it's an obstacle that could be pretty easily avoided if there were a few trays available on request behind the counter at the entrance to the dining hall where meal cards are swiped. This way, students who needed trays would be able to use them, and students who didn't wouldn't simply take them out of habit.
So this is my new plan. This is my new revolution. Maybe it is petty and insignificant, but is important to start small. Next stop: ANARCHY.