sustainablespu

Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese


Solutions to the Food Waste Fight


Food Waste Challenge –Launched 2 years ago

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is my go to source for what is officially happening here, and their website has a wealth of information. I particularly found the Food Waste Challenge launched in 2013 interesting, as well as the USDA’s Commitments and Deliverables through 2014. The Food Waste Challenge is a joint effort between the USDA and the EPA to call people along the food chain to help reduce, recover, and recycle (compost) more food so that it isn’t wasted, but instead used to its fullest potential. The specifics of the goal include 400 participants by 2015, and 1000 by 2020. Participants aren’t individuals, but schools, religious groups, businesses, or local government branches. Membership however is currently at 4,024, including 113 universities. Wow.

As part of this challenge there are also federal marketing orders that allow donations or alternate uses of fresh produce that don’t meet the federal marketing order requirements. These orders include crops of citrus fruits, avocados, kiwis, cherries, olives, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and dates. Since the launch of this program there have been fewer reports on food waste statistics, so we’ll see how effective it is. For tips and resources on how you can get involved, check out their Frequently Asked Questions page. Continue reading

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Food Waste Coming into the Limelight –Highlights from John Oliver


The issue of food waste is not just one here in Seattle—it’s a nationwide issue that starts with the way we produce food and only becomes more of a problem as food finds its way to consumers. John Oliver recently dedicated a segment of his show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver to this growing problem (Warning: It’s John Oliver, so be prepared for your facts to come served with a sprinkling of obscenity and a hearty side portion of dark humor). This caught the attention of many media sites, which is great news! The more people who become aware of this problem, the more we can do to change it. Here are some of the highlights of his 17 minute segment.

The Stats

In 2012, the Natural Resources Defense Council reported “40% of the food in the United States today goes uneaten.” The USDA’s (United States Department of Agriculture) Economic Research Service 2010 data puts the national percentage at a more conservative 31%. Roughly translated, this means that a third of all the food produced in America is wasted.

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Food Waste in a landfill in California

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The Coffee Obsession (Part 2) – What is fair trade really about?


Along with knowing what kind of milk and how much syrup is in our specialty drinks every morning, we should be even more concerned about where the beans that create those delicious nutty undertones come from. Some of the biggest regions that produce coffee are Central and South America, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia. Many countries’ economies are wrapped up in the global trade of coffee.

A good place to start in learning about coffee beans is the different types. There are two kinds of beans that are used most often for making coffee, Robusta and Arabica. The differences in these two relate to their flavor, growing conditions, and price.  Robusta has a stronger, harsher taste with grain and peanut overtones and can have twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans. These beans however, are considered lower quality when compared to Arabica beans in most cases. There are a few growers of Robusta that are higher quality and used in espressos for their rich flavor and caffeine content.

Arabica beans are common in pricier coffee circles, where Robusta is common in the grocery store. Arabica beans are more acidic and tend to have the fruitier tones that can be associated with specialty coffees. The two different kinds of beans are grown in different locations as well. Arabica beans grow at higher altitudes and take longer to produce than the Robusta beans which are very hearty and grow quickly.  This information was all found at http://www.thekitchn.com but there are many other sites out there. The types of beans grown determine the price that growers can sell them at and how much and how fast they can grow. Continue reading


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Inexpensive and good for you -10 ideas for 10 dollars or less for your Friday night


In Seattle many of the students at SPU have a hard time finding fun activities to do that won’t break the bank. Seattle has exponential opportunities to try something new, but it might cost you a pretty penny. Here are some ideas for students (or people on a budget) for Friday nights.

1) Board games at a local game store (Free + bus fare and snacks) This activity can be totally free! For SPU students Blue Highway is a walk up the 3rd Ave. hill to upper Queen Anne. If the weather isn’t ideal, the 13 also goes up the hill and stops just two blocks away from this fun game store on the corner of Boston Ave. and Queen Anne. The staff is really helpful at teaching you a new game if you need help, and sometimes they even have fun events in their store. It’s also a great place to try before you buy, and then invest in a favorite game once you have a little extra cash. Their Friday hours are 10 am to 11 pm. Playing board games is a great way to connect with people and exercise your brain. This location isn’t the only one though; there’s another game store in Ballard as well.

2) Visit a park and play Frisbee (Free if you own a Frisbee)

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The view from Bhy Kracke Park. Photo credit: SeattleStairwayWalks.com.

Seattle has so many gorgeous parks, and I’m certain other cities and towns have parks with spacious lawns for Frisbee. Getting out and running around a bit can be really fun, no matter how uncoordinated you may be. For Seattlites and other pacific northwesters it can get dark pretty early in the evening, so checking out options for a glow in the dark disc is a must, finding an affordable one isn’t too difficult, just stay away from specialty ones, or the lit ones that require batteries. A few of my suggestions for parks are Discovery park in Magnolia or Bhy Kracke park in Upper Queen Anne. I caution the klutzy though, because Bhy Kracke is on a steep hill and you could easily lose your disc down the hill. Both parks close at 11:30 pm (sunshine and shoes are optional). Continue reading

Some Food for Thought on Thanksgiving Feasts


Recently in a health class, my class was shown the documentary Forks Over Knives, which advocates a whole food, plant-based diet. It really prompted me to think about food choices, from a health perspective and an environmental one as well. They mention the amount of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions created in production of food in America, and the statistics had me feeling conflicted about the foods that I love to eat. According to a recent research article from February of this year, food production causes about one fifth of the global greenhouse gas emissions. This article also outlines which foods create more impacts on multiple factors including GHG, land use, irrigated water needs, and reactive nitrogen.

With Thanksgiving this past weekend and Christmas around the corner, Continue reading


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Interview with a Vegan: SPU Alumni Colin Hohnstein


colinColin Hohnstein, a 2012 SPU graduate, has many titles. Brilliant writer, skilled musician, roommate to the best blogger on the planet; these are just a small sampling of the ways in which you might describe him. As of last August, Vegan could be added to the list. Colin has swept away all traces of animal product consumption from his life, which affects more than what initially comes to mind. If you’re considering veganism, or just cutting down the use of animal products in your lifestyle to whatever extent, the insight Colin gives in the below interview will likely be very helpful.
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Washington and Genetically Engineered Food


gm_foodWell Seattleites, our state seems to be at the focal point of the debate over genetically engineered food. If voters approve initiative 522, Washington will be the first state in the country to start labeling foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. While most scientists agree that GE food products are safe to eat, and the environmental effects of it seem to be a mixed bag, proponents of the initiative base their argument mainly on our right to know what we’re eating, a stance that I would agree with. Continue reading