April 28, 2009

Chef shows off sustainable food

Melissa Graham, local caterer and founder of Purple Asparagus, a non-profit that focuses on using sustainable products and cooking methods, visited the University’s International House kitchen Sunday morning for a cooking demonstration with organic and locally-produced products.

The demonstration, which was sponsored by the Sustainability Council, bookended a week of environmentally-oriented programming in honor of Earth Week.

Laying out the ingredients for red pepper frittata for the half-dozen students in attendance, Graham discussed the impact of choosing local and organic ingredients in cooking on the longer-term movement for sustainable commerce.

“We need to ask questions, we need to all be educated consumers,” she said. “If we do that, the market will follow.”

Graham also commented on the changing role of food in American life. “We've been used to cheap food so long in this country,” she said. “[But] it's here unnaturally because oil prices have been so cheap,” she said.

Asked how students could eat more sustainably, Graham offered a few basic tips.

“The biggest thing you can do,” she said, “is to change the meat you consume—how much you consume and which kinds.” She advocated eating more whole grains and vegetables in the dining halls.