On the Menu: Lessons to Educate the Appetite

Tuesday’s lunch taught the Bulldogs an effective and delicious lesson about food production and consumption.

The “Feed the Difference” meal focused on current issues including the benefits of eating locally-produced food, the value of planning a menu with fresh ingredients in season, the environmental benefit of eating less meat; and the need to combat hunger, both nationally and globally.

Meriwether Godsey, the Virginia-based dining service company that runs the refectory kitchen, served the special menu and marked all of the local foods. The menu abounded in vegetables: local butternut and barley soup; local root vegetable and greens salad; local apple chutney on top of pork tenderloin; quinoa stuffed peppers and; local braised cabbage. However, a hot seller with students had no vegetables at all—fresh biscuits with local jams.

Tanya Hipp, Dining Services Director, said that the meal was designed to help faculty and students really think about what they eat each day, and how it impacts our community and the Earth. “We are in such a hurry to consume nutrition, we do not take the time to think about what it took to produce the meal, for example, the farmers, the water, the travel,” Hipp noted.”Then we readily waste so much every day in this country.  It helps to be reminded to think about what you can do as an individual, as a community, and as a company.”

Norfolk Academy composts food waste, as well as many other items used daily, such as napkins and cups. In order to make the composting project successful, students must sort the waste, separating compostable items from trash. “Each individual is vital to the success of this program,” Hipp noted.

A press release from Meriwether Godsey noted the myriad environmental benefits that arise from using seasonal, local ingredients. By using local ingredients, cooks strengthen the local economy and reduce pollution caused by long-distance trucking. Most of the world’s meat is provided through industrial farming operations that produce greenhouse gases and consume huge amounts of water; a pound of beef require 450 gallons of water in its production, according to the press release.

The press release also noted the vast quantities of food that are wasted at home and by restaurants, even as an estimated 1 in 6 Americans struggle with hunger.