Back in 2006, the United Nations warned us that agriculture is the leading cause of global climate change.
How inconvenient. We know what we love to eat. Yes, sometimes it’s kale salads. But more often than not it’s pizza. We LOVE pizza (and burgers, and cookies, and all that goodness). Some would even say addicted to it. Bottom line, it’s important to us. And we don’t want to give it up.
On the other hand, how empowering! For once, the solution to perhaps the world’s greatest crisis is in our hands. We can actually fix this, and it’s as simple as what goes into our fridges, piles onto our plates and ends up in our bellies. We hold the key.
And I mean it. We hold the key. At OSU, university dining halls have a HUGE footprint on the environment. We’ve got the capacity to create colossal change through innocuous, barely perceptible changes. There have already been students who have expressed an interest in OSU dining partnering with Hampton Creek so we could join other universities who are already making a difference.
Consider this: Rutgers University recently partnered with trailblazing Silicon Valley food tech company Hampton Creek. At Rutgers, they replaced just a few of their dining hall products for Hampton Creek’s more sustainable versions. They were able to save 31 million quarts of water and 35 million grams of carbon emissions. Every. Single. Year.
We need to be thinking more like Rutgers and, ultimately, more like Hampton Creek. Their company orbits around questions: “What would it look like if we started over?” If we unraveled the food system, and started from scratch, how would we do things?
Well, for one, food would taste better. It would also cost less, be healthier for our bodies, wouldn’t be so horrible for the environment and help reduce the suffering of animals. Hampton Creek focuses their innovation around making food that fulfills all of that and more. And it’s working, they were just named to CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list. Why we’re not among the 500 colleges already partnering with Hampton Creek is beyond me.
Let’s ask that same question. “What would it look like if we started over at OSU dining?” Hampton Creek is just the tip of the iceberg. Stanford converts its used cooking oil to biodiesel, Duke banned Styrofoam and UT Austin serves fresh produce from its own gardens.
There are a million ways we can make sure our food system at OSU is helping, not hurting, the planet. Let’s make sustainability our legacy. Then we can get back to eating pizza.
Stephanie Sopczak is a junior studying anthropology at The Ohio State University.