“Eating” the miles

The goals over the week have been fairly easy to follow, other than the waste and food. I rarely go off campus, so transportation is always either my feet or my scooter (Razor, for those who were wondering). As we talked about in class, reducing waste is by far the hardest part. Not only because our society relies on people buying things then quickly throwing them away, but because waste has so many different levels to it. We have ┬átalked a little bit about point source and non point source pollution, the idea that sometimes to sources of pollution can be directly identified and other times they cannot be. Well when we talk about waste, the same confusion can occur. The cup we throw into the trash can is visible and obvious to us, we can comprehend at least that we are wasting something. There are other things that can count as waste though. What about the all the papers that are printed out for us by our teachers? Most of the time those are important but we also have no say as to if we want to take responsibility for them, but ultimately we do. And think about the scraps that are cut off of the vegetables we eat in the dining hall; something we do not even see and yet I sort of feel as though I should count it on my list. On that note, let me speak to the food issue. Even the most diligent healthy, local, organic, sustainable, and ethical eaters struggle with finding food that fits all those criteria. The truth about why food is so difficult to make “no impact” is due to location. Here in Ohio we have a growing season during the summer and some of the fall. These growing periods make it hard for us to source our food locally. Also, the scale of the local farms usually lend themselves to be shipped across the country, not just here in Ohio. So, because we have to ship IN so much of our food, the “food miles” add up rapidly. The amount of fossil fuels that are burned by trucks, trains and planes to get our food to our plates here at Denison is astounding. However, for the time being there is little we can do about it. The company that controls out dining system holds all the cards right now. If we demand to know where our food comes from, I bet they would change but we all have so many other things going on that it is hard to spend a lot of time making petitions and stirring activism. Maybe next year we can get some people together to work with the dining halls in order to make them more healthy, local, organic, sustainable and ethical but for now we will just have to live with all the food miles that we are “eating”.

Megan Hart


  1. I liked your discussion about waste and how some of it is so visible and other parts aren’t. Even if we buy an unpackaged product, there was still probably a lot of waste produced by the company that made the product! The story of all of the stuff we use is just so incredibly complicated to keep track of. There are just so many unseen aspects of what our actions are doing, like the miles it took to get our food to us or the carbon we’re emitting when we drive our cars. It would be a lot easier and I think a lot people would care more if we could directly see the consequences of all of our actions.

  2. I completely agree with the food aspect of things. I have been trying all week to eat more “sustainable” but I feel as though my options are lacking. It is difficult for someone like myself to eat enough at the dining halls. It is rather frustrating. Maybe we can do something next year as Sustainability Fellows!

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