Wednesday, May 1, 2013

No Impact Week - 4/22/2013 & 4/28/2013

Concluding Log Lunch-esque meal
On Monday, April 22, Williams College embarked on No Impact Week, a one-week carbon cleanse that provides experimenters with a chance to see what a difference “no impact” living can have on quality of life (No Impact Project). Three local meals kicked off the week: students could dine at Mission Park for breakfast, Driscoll for lunch, and Whitmans’ for dinner and enjoy food produced within 150 miles of the college. The purpose of 150-Mile Meals was to get “students to think more deeply about where their food was coming from and how it was made, and to show that, even during the low-season (end of winter), there is still enough food in our area to produce three delicious and distinct meals” (Lexie Carr, No Impact Week Organizer). Dining Services was admirably stringent in its commitment to the 150 mile radius, excluding, for example, coffee from the menu.
At Whitmans’ dinner, I enjoyed homemade pasta with spinach and roasted garlic, hearty and toothsome “autumn” squash soup, chicken with fingerling potatoes and roasted root vegetables, and picnic-style potato and chopped apple salad. As I devoured the feast before me, a chorus of happy, appreciative student voices filled the air. 150-Mile Meals was an overwhelming success, and no wonder--Lexie subsequently filled me in on the meticulous planning that made her vision a reality.
Back in October, Lexie began brainstorming approaches for “food day” of No Impact Week, ultimately--and fortunately, for us--deciding on a dining hall meal because it would be accessible to everyone. After meeting initially with Assistant Dining Director Chris Abayasinghe  to discuss logistics, Lexie and Brent Wasser of the Sustainable Food and Agriculture Department met monthly with various representatives from Dining Services; Lexie applauded the organization for extensively researching what was available in our area, contacting farmers months in advance, preserving food from the fall, and thinking creatively about menus. Indeed, Williams is fortunate to have a committed, self-operated Dining Services because the organization’s flexibility and responsiveness enables local food-centric events such as 150-Mile Meals that would not be possible at an institution that contracts its food service to an outside organization.
On Sunday, April 28, a final No Impact Week celebration took place, as lucky diners enjoyed a student-prepared meal and discussion at the Log. As students discussed how decisions such as eating locally can enhance personal quality of life and the health of the planet, a wholesome meal of hearty lentil vegetable soup, spinach salad with roasted vegetables and avocado dressing, onion and cheese cornbread, and Swedish apple cake seemed a delicious and appropriate conclusion to the week.

 Post created in Collaboration with Williams College Sustainable Food and Agriculture Department.