Lyceum Lecture Series focuses on food sustainability

During the fall 2018 semester, the Lee Honors College Lyceum Lecture Series “Food for all: Sustainable practices, community access and nutrition” will discuss how eating habits affect the environment, healthful eating practices and the influence politics have on food.

Lectures take place Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. in the Lee Honors College lounge and are open to staff, students and the general public.

The topic of the fall Lyceum Lecture series was selected with input from Lee Honor’s College students. Dr. Gary Bischof, dean of the Lee Honors College, said that the lecture series is happening at a time when sustainability is a big topic in the Kalamazoo Community.

“There is a lot of support for food sustainability,” Bischof said. “Access to healthful food is an ongoing issue in communities across the country including here in Kalamazoo.”

Dr. Marion Nestle will deliver the keynote speech for the series on Sept. 25 at 6:30 p.m. in Chenery Auditorium titled “Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat.” Nestle is the award-winning author of “Food Politics,” and specializes in the politics of food and dietary choice.

“My goal is for students to be more conscientious about food in general and to think more about what they are eating and where it came from,” Katie Fox, academic advisor for the Lee Honors College, said.

A big push for food sustainability on WMU’s campus comes from the The Gibbs Permaculture Research and Demonstration site run by the WMU Office for Sustainability. The Gibbs House enables students to conduct research and projects such as post consumer food waste and compost hot water heating.

The Gibbs Permaculture site is a supplier of sustainable food on campus. The majority of what they harvest goes directly to the Invisible Need Project, a initiative dedicated to meeting student’s unmet needs, including a food Pantry where students can receive healthy food for free.

The Lyceum Lecture series will include a presentation by the WMU Office for Sustainability entitled “WMU Permaculture Programming, Practices and Research,” on Nov. 28.

WMU Dining Services does its part to support food sustainability by using primarily locally sourced products to cut down on transportation emissions. All WMU dining centers are trayless, which cuts down on water, energy and chemical waste that would be created by washing more dishes.

In 2014, WMU received a gold rating on the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) report, compiled by the Office for Sustainability.

According to Jeff Spoelstra, director of the Office for Sustainability, the gold rating indicates that WMU is on the right track, but there is still more work to be done.

“We should have more gardens on campus,” Spoelstra said. “We have plenty of green space, why not use it. It is about educating and making students on campus aware of what is possible.”

WMU Students are also starting to see sustainability introduced into curriculum. Haworth College of business became the first educational college to require students to take a class on sustainability as part of their requirements.

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