Anna Bessendorf, former summer intern for Hazon, recently finished her first year at Brandeis University, where she is considering pursuing a B.A. in Environmental Studies. She is involved in Students for Environmental Action at Brandeis, and this past semester, she was the creator and coordinator of a unique event that brought life to Hazon’s mission for a healthier and more sustainable community in the Jewish world and beyond.
Brandeis Food Day took place this past April 23rd 2012. It was a one day event at Brandeis University that was sponsored by Students for Environmental Action and raised awareness of locally, ethically and sustainable food, from agriculture to pisciculture.
There were two all-day events – the first was a mini-farmer’s market in the heart of the Brandeis campus, the Shapiro Campus Center, that featured a variety of local vendors, including a producer of maple syrup, a homemade sauce seller, and a representative from the local CSA to encourage sign-ups, who also brought fresh asparagus!
The second all-day event was a giveaway of local, organic fruit to allow students to taste the difference between sustainable and conventional fruit.
There were events scattered around campus throughout the day. The Natura Living club collaborated with Students for Environmental Action (SEA) to host a make-your-own mini herb garden event, in which students planted herb seeds in a small bowl to take home and grow.
The consumption of meat is one of the major contributors to the size of the average carnivore’s carbon footprint, so the SEA-sponsored initiative Meatless Mondays gave away free vegan cupcakes to students who ate a meat-free lunch in an effort to encourage mindful vegetarianism.
Focusing not just on what we eat, but how we eat it, the SEA-sponsored Disposable Container Reduction initiative registered students for the reusable green to-go container program and sold reusable water bottles to eliminate the waste produced by disposable takeout containers and plastic water bottles.
In the evening, the Cheese Club hosted a free tasting of locally made cheeses and emphasized the superior quality of fresh dairy.
In the Shapiro Campus Center atrium, there was a screening of TED talks (“Fooducation”), which taught about different food issues ranging from Carolyn Steel’s “How Food Shapes Our Cities” to Mark Bittman’s “What’s Wrong with What We Eat.”
Finally, the day ended with an interfaith dialogue co-sponsored by the Brandeis Interfaith Group and Hillel at Brandeis that explored the role of food across cultures and religions, and drew a crowd from a diverse range of backgrounds, with participants from countries ranging from Hawaii to Russia and everywhere in between.
Ultimately, Brandeis Food Day 2012 was an important first step in the Brandeis community towards encouraging students to make informed decisions about the ethicality and sustainability of the food that they eat.