Gotham Grazer Blog

Classroom Update: Visit from Bareburger

One of our schools gets a lesson in sustainable agriculture from an organic restaurant franchise.

At this Gotham Grazer school, a new quarter means a whole different group of students.  We hit the ground running for these classes and started right away with the food mapping exercise, getting the students to think about the sustainable food resources that exist in their neighborhoods.  After Thanksgiving break, we had a guest speaker from Bareburger, a franchise that serves organic meals made with locally grown ingredients, as well as sustainably-sourced (and somewhat unconventional) meat, such as bison, elk, and duck.  Their menu also has a variety of meat-free and gluten-free options.  Gotham Grazer is proud to call Bareburger a partner in our program, and we were so excited to have them visit! 

 

The students were addressed by Anthony Roman, who gave a thorough run-down on what organic farmers do differently than conventional farmers and explained how food sustainability is a key component to Bareburger's business model. Anthony also stressed the importance of purchasing power and voting power, empowering the students to realize the impact that their choices have.  We had an active discussion in both class sessions about the student's opinions on eating sustainably and their experiences at different restaurants, and many were excited to check out the food at their nearest Bareburger.  A big thank you to Anthony and Bareburger for all of their support in our program, and we are looking forward to having them visit our other schools!

Tips For Having A Sustainable Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and there is no better time to start eating sustainably.

Photo by   Satya Murthy

Photo by Satya Murthy

According to the NRDC, about 200 million pounds of turkey will be wasted this Thanksgiving, totaling to a collective $239 million down the drain. We've compiled a list of some of the best ways to avoid contributing to these statistics and to have a healthier and more sustainable Thanksgiving. 

1. "Turkey Day" No More
The history of Thanksgiving is rooted in celebrating the harvest and the wonder of nature.  Although eating turkey has become an important tradition on Thanksgiving, it is clear that this way of eating leads to mass amounts of waste.  This year, have your main course be a creative, meat-free dish - it will certainly be a conversation starter, and you probably won't feel as comatose by the end of your meal.

2. Prepare Your Guests
If your guests are bringing dishes to add to the table, make sure they know how many people will be in attendance in order to avoid excess food. Also remind them to bring containers for leftovers!

3. Buy Organic, Local, And Seasonal
Decrease your carbon footprint and support local farms all at the same time! If you aren't ready to nix the turkey completely, try to buy an organic turkey that was locally and humanely raised.

4. The Freezer Is Your Friend
Who says Thanksgiving only has to last for one day? Sometimes, the best part is eating leftovers for days - and weeks - to come.  Store your leftover prepared meals and unused ingredients in the freezer; the meals can be quickly re-heated, while the ingredients can be used to make new dishes.

5. Donate Extra Food
Although many local food banks and shelters will not accept prepared meals, they will take extra non-perishable goods, such as canned vegetables or a box of stuffing.  Find and contact your local food bank to see what you can donate!

6. Compost Compost Compost
We can't say it enough on this blog.  If you have prepared food that you can't donate, give your thanks to mother earth and recycle that food into fertile soil.

7. Just Because You Eat Potatoes, Doesn't Mean You Have To Become One
As great as it is to settle into the couch for the football game, we challenge you to get outside and play a game of your own.  Whether you decide to play football or go for a family walk, your body and mind will thank you!

We hope that all of our readers will utilize at least one - if not all - of these tips. Have a happy and wonderfully sustainable Thanksgiving!

Classroom Update: Test Your Knowledge

Time to hit the ground running!

Although school is just kicking into gear here in the city, we gave our students a short quiz from our Earth Day/Every Day Food Toolkit to see how much they already know – or don’t know – about sustainable food.  Our goal is that by the end of the year, they will be able to answer these questions with ease.

Now it’s your turn - how much do YOU know about the sustainable food movement?

Quiz: Test Your Before-and-After Knowledge

1. What comes to mind when you hear the word “organic”? 

2. What are the benefits of “organic” food? 

3. What is an “industrial food system”? 

4. Who is Rachel Carson, Wendell Berry, or Michael Pollan? Describe what you know about each of these people. 

5. What are the benefits of eating plants instead of meat? 

6. What is “local food”? 

7. What are the benefits of “local food”? 

8. Who grows the food you eat and where is it grown? 

9. Do you have access to sustainable food in your community? If so, where? List 10 or more of those resources here. 

10. What sustainable food resources are lacking in your community? 

 

How did you do? Similar to our students, you might not know all of the answers, but if you stay up to date with our blog, you should be a pro in no time! 

 

 

Honeybee Deaths: No Small Matter

A few weeks ago, officials of Dorchester County, South Carolina took preemptive measures to ward off the Zika virus with an aerial spraying of the pesticide naled.  Naled is specifically used for mosquito control, but when applied at the wrong time, it can be detrimental to other insects - including honeybees.  Unfortunately, the beekeepers of Dorchester County woke up to find hives destroyed, and millions of honeybees dead.

Why does this matter?

Aside from the fact that these apiaries are now facing huge setbacks, South Carolina just lost a few million of its pollinators.  Unfortunately, the term “pollinator” is not even mentioned until the last few sentences of the article, but it is this function of bees – pollination – that makes them crucial players within our food system.

Bees alone pollinate one-third of our global food crops.

It is hard to make people, especially children, realize the significance of that percentage, especially when bees are associated with pain or danger.  For instance, it’s safe to say that at some point in our childhood (and probably adulthood), we have all stood fearful and frozen, waiting to see if the bee that is circling us will attack.  In reality, bees will usually only sting unless threatened, and honeybees can actually die after they sting a human.  Despite whatever personal grudges an individual might have towards bees, these creatures are not interested in attacking humans; they are interested in doing their job to support the hive

With panic over the Zika virus increasing, this may not be the last mass casualty of honeybees that we see, making now, more than ever, an important time to become an advocate for these essential pollinators.

Waste Not, Want Not

There is a lot of talk about where our food comes from, but what about the food that gets left behind?

As this blog post from The Economist points out, wasted food does not only mean wasted calories; it means wasted resources, such as water, fossil fuels, and pesticides.  By not utilizing all of the food that is produced, we are unnecessarily contributing to climate change, soil depletion, and water pollution. Rather than throwing out unwanted food, compost it instead! Composting in New York City is much easier than it seems, as there are scheduled drop-off sites in most neighborhoods.

Welcome to Gotham Grazer

Earth Day Initiative is excited to launch our Gotham Grazer program this September!  We will be working with three different high schools throughout the city, providing both formal sustainable food education and interactive, hands-on activities that will empower students to be agents of change.  We will be bringing in guest lecturers that work in the sustainable food sector, giving the students access to a variety of role models, contacts, and career opportunities.  As the year progresses, the students will create maps that lay out existing food resources in their communities, as well as develop real-world sustainable food projects of their own.

Participating students will have a unique learning experience that will encourage them to live greener, more sustainable lives and pursue careers in sustainable food.  We hope to make the students more aware of the environmental and health issues that surround our food system, and give them the necessary tools to make positive changes in their schools and neighborhoods.  As such, the benefits of this program are not bounded to the classroom, as the food maps and projects that the students produce could become major resources for their communities.   By the end of the year, these students will be active members of their communities and confident advocates for the sustainable food movement!

Not only will we be using this blog to share stories from the Gotham Grazer program, but we will also be highlighting news articles and resources that are related to the sustainable food movement.  Stay tuned as we kick things off and get to work!