The New School Celebrates Food Day

In celebration of Food Day, which is fully observed on October 24, students and faculty from The New School held events that raised awareness of our food consumption, waste, and how to conserve. Food Day is officially on October 24 and inspires Americans to change their diets and food policies. The theme for Food Day 2015 is “Towards a Greener Diet.” The average American diet is contributing to obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. Those problems cost Americans more than $150 billion every year. Changing our food habits can save your health and put our food system on a more humane, sustainable path. With America’s resources, there is no excuse for hunger, low wages for food and farm workers, or inhumane conditions for farm animals.To spread the message, The New School held events that were designed to facilitate a greater dialogue about our food waste and how to move towards a greener diet.The Environmental Design and Sustainable Systems classes at Parsons created a Pop-up Picnic, which celebrated in advance of Food Day to model how design can further strategies for more enjoyable engagement with our civic agricultural systems. Students prepared, staged, shared food and IMG_3893knowledge with their class and with those around them at the lower level area of the University Center, Tuesday, October 13, 2015.Activities included a “Build Your Own Awareness” sandwich activity where participants were presented with store-bought foods, recyclable, compostable and biodegradable servingware adjacent to farmers market foods, reusable servingware. People were encouraged to build their own sandwich making qualitative and quantitative choices about their sandwich.To build further awareness, each item was labeled with its “virtual” water calculation, which is the flow of water embodied in the cycle of production, trading, and handling of related wastes for any material good or service. This includes water used for raw material extraction, processing, manufacturing, packaging, the retail systems, and related transportation systems, as well as, that water (and energy) wasted with each item "thrown away".Additionally, as people enjoyed their meal, the class informed participants of the amounts of virtual water that could not be calculated because of the "hidden" systems behind the goods (plastic bags, processed cheeses and breads that are not local civic agricultural items), as well as other deep-dive research material on food and their field of interest.The New School Dining and The Tishman Environment and Design Center co-hosted a film screening of the documentary Food For Thought: Food For Life. This film explored and explained the downsides of current practices in agribusiness and introduces us to farmers, chefs, researchers and educators, and advocates who are providing solutions to the current issues.The film sparked a stimulating discussion about food accessibility and solutions for how to sustainably grow food naturally to meet the current demand.