Bananas for Apples

Hello world!

My name is Kaidee Akullo, and I am a freshman and proud member of the Real Food Challenge Team!

In my first few weeks with the Environmental Center family I have been able to connect with and relate to someone in each team. This alone has shown me that being part of the EC will provide me with a community like no other.

I am looking forward to becoming environmentally conscious, knowledgeable and well-rounded through my interactions with individuals, communities and organizations through the EC. I recently had my first outreach experience, and I just finished working on a short film for our Vote Real campaign.

My first experience tabling with the EC has been completed and was a success! This year at the Durango Apple Days festival the EC had a table where the Local Food Security Team paired with Cream Bean Berry to make apple ice cream flavors.

I was able to help serve enough scoops of Almond Milk Apple and Apple Pie flavored ice cream to bring in $500 to the EC. At the festival we educated the public about the events the EC puts on and how we are impacting the Fort Lewis community.

My next tabling event was more specific to my team. The Real Food Challenge team went out chatting with and educating people in preparation for our Vote Real event that opened on October 10.  I will table next at the Wellness Fair on October 12.

Vote Real was a huge success last year as we were able to permanently shift 240 pounds of local pesticide-free potatoes into the Sodexo dining plan. This means that the Real Food Challenge percentage has increased 1.3%, and the potato purchasing is contributing $11,000 to the local economy!

To keep the momentum going we are excited to be implementing new marketing techniques. Coming soon is a Vote Real video and Snapchat updates about who we are and what we do. I am personally super excited about the little movie because it is my first one! Our team will soon be official directors and filmmakers with new videos for each campaign season.

I am super excited for the Wellness Fair as it speaks to my background and curiosity about wellness and food. At the fair I will be able to present and discover how sustainability and real foods are associated with wellness.

This issue is one I feel the constant need to share and discuss becuase it relates to the health of our society. The correlation between wellness and eating right is uncanny. Even on a simple level when one eats in a balanced way they feel well and are able to be productive. This productivity leads to development of the whole community.

Real food guidelines are intertwined with the idea of starting from the bottom in order to benefit societal success because humane, ecologically sound, fair, and organic foods help us scientifically and socially grow.

To be able to incorporate real food with wellness is an awesome way for me to bring existing knowledge forward to shape future learning.

Happy learning and growing!

Kaidee

Kaidee Akullo (Left) and RFC Team member, Louie West (Right) scooping up Cream Bean Berry at Apple Days!

Kaidee Akullo (Left) and RFC Team member, Louie West (Right) scooping up Cream Bean Berry at Apple Days!

Crickets for Lunch

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cricketThis is my first semester working for the Environmental Center. I always enjoyed volunteering for the EC, so I knew I would like getting more involved. On the Local Food Team our initiative is to enhance La Plata County’s local food system to ensure that everyone has access to local, healthy foods, and one of our missions was to create ways to get other students involved as well. My teammates came up with some really great ideas, and although I had some thoughts, I wasn’t sure if I should go with them. Eventually I presented my ideas. With open arms, my team encouraged me and Crickets for Lunch was born.

I did a ton of research to make sure that feeding my peers crickets was a good thing to do. That’s when I was introduced to the world of entomophagy. I learned the many benefits of eating bugs, and the many wild ways you can enjoy them. Although I became comfortable with including bugs in my diet, I wasn’t sure if everyone else would be as ready to crunch on crickets. All I could do was present my research and hope that my peers were able to see the benefits and look past the stigma.

With butterflies in my stomach, I displayed what I had worked diligently on. In the middle of the Student Union, it didn’t take much time to gather a crowd. People were shocked to see the treats I was offering- chocolate covered crickets and fried garlic chili crickets. In the most normal way I could attempt, I proposed they try one. My fears of rejection and abundance of leftover crickets were squashed! Shock turned into excitement as people were thrilled to try their first cricket. Since the idea of eating a bug when they didn’t have to see its details was easier to swallow, the chocolate covered crickets were a big hit.

I felt revitalized. The encouragement and support from the Environmental Center gave me the spirit to accomplish what I set out to do. It was awesome seeing my ideas flourish in reality. Working at the EC has been amazing, and I love seeing the incredible things that get generated there by determined students and staff. I also loved getting a first-hand look at how accepting and willing to try new things the scholars at Fort Lewis are. A fire has kindled within me, and I’m excited for all of the future opportunities I have to collaborate, create, and get people involved.

The Environmental Center has given me the tools and training to make changes in the community. I’m always excited to learn more and work on projects that better La Plata county and further. It’s because of programs exactly like the Environmental Center that I chose to attend Fort Lewis. The community at the EC reassures me that I’ve made a great decision. I’ve never felt so involved at school and I can’t wait to see what more we can accomplish.

Paula Pletnikoff
Local Food Team

Green Business Roundtable – Are we safe from another Gold King spill?

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Being in my third year here at Fort Lewis, I am becoming more aware and involved with things that are happening in our local community. This last week, I attended the Green Business Roundtable meeting for the first time. The main topic of discussion was an update on the status of the Animas River, six months after this Gold King spill in August of 2015. Living and working here in Durango when the spill happened, I observed how huge of an impact it had on our community and the attention it drew to the river. It seemed at the time that this would be the way things would remain; but as the speaker, Dan Olsen, pointed out, “attention on our town faded at the same rate of the river turning back to blue.”

Being an Environmental Studies student at the Fort, this is a concept that I have seen a lot in my studies. Being a resident in this community, I have also known that our river has always been plagued with various levels of metals, but it was only after a larger outbreak, that the issue became an addressable problem. The meeting showed ways that our community would be able to begin cleanup of the mines up river and also presented the possibility of all the open mines throughout the west being cleaned up too.

The limitation that would be faced would be the financial component needed to fund the operations. Though the number proposed is large and potentially not feasible for our area to take on alone, it is exciting to know that efforts are at least being made to have a positive outcome from all that has happened. It was inspiring attending the meeting and finding out how many green businesses are invested in our community for more than just making a profit, and they are a great example to keep in mind once I am done with my degree. Always remember the importance and power the community has; and if we all come together to address a problem, it has the chance to be solved.

Dylan Malewska
Campus Sustainability Team

Green Business Roundtable – Organic vs. Local

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Recently, as an environmental studies major at Fort Lewis College, I have realized the amount of individuals that have dedicated their lives to better the environment. It is easy to forget sometimes when modern culture seems to be consumed with many things but the environment, but last Wednesday I had the opportunity to see the amplitude of the environmentally dedicated people within a small community. I am a volunteer at the environmental center and to thank me the coordinator, Rachel Landis, brought me to Durango’s “Green Business Roundtable”. This monthly gathering of businesses and individuals in Durango that are dedicated to environmentally conscious actions, and have speakers to promote progressive green actions for their businesses. This month Linley Dixon came to speak about local compared to organic produce, which was quite an interesting topic to me, because I often have this dilemma in my personal life. She spoke about the industrialization of organic farming and how it has strayed from its original ideals by being regulated by the government. Linley farms ecologically sound food on a few acres near Durango and sells her produce to local farmers markets in the area. Supporting the local food system gives communities more security for produce, cuts back on fossil fuel emissions from transportation, and fosters support for sustainable small-scale farms. Lindley’s lasting remarks for the crowd was that if we, as a community, support small-scale farmers, they in turn will support us.

Inside Local Food Security in the Four Corners

Do you know how many days of food we have available in our grocery stores in the event that the trucks stop coming over the hill? Did you ever wonder about what a Food Procurement contract is and how it dictates which foods show up on your plate on a daily basis? To learn more about these topics and the inner workings of our Real Food Challenge and regional local food security, check out today’s radio interview with EC Coordinator Rachel Landis on our local public station, KSUT. Rachel will be available for book signings and autographs all day in the EC 😉

http://ksut.org/post/inside-food-security-four-corners

Duke Jackson, 2014 Local Food Fellow, waters tire-stacked potatoes in an effort to utilize space most efficiently for maximum food production in the Environmental Center's on-campus, organic garden.

Duke Jackson, 2014 Local Food Fellow, waters tire-stacked potatoes in an effort to utilize space most efficiently for maximum food production in the Environmental Center’s on-campus, organic garden.

Dave Foreman of Earth First! Visits FLC

Without knowing what to expect when attending the Dave Foreman talk hosted by Fort Lewis College on April 5th, I would have to say I look at the state of the world from an entirely new perspective. Dave Foreman considers himself a conservationist and is co-founder of “Earth First!, an environmental advocacy group based in the Southwest. Earth First! was established by Foreman, Mike Roselle and Howie Wolke in response to an increased awareness of corporate influence on many large environmental advocacy groups. On earthfirst.org, you can find a more complete outline of their movement’s overall goals and their continuing mission to make people aware of the challenges we face as beings on this earth.

For the most part, a lot of the knowledge Dave Foreman shared was nothing new to the audience such as, earth being in its sixth mass extinction, the extinction of passenger pigeons and the human overpopulation conflict. However, if there was one thing I took away from Foreman’s talk, it would have to be his emphasis on human being’s desire to control everything in the natural world. “We are all earthlings,” Foreman said. The best analogy he used was to “think of earth as a 550 page story.” Complex life has only been around for as long as 550 million years and if you put humans in this story of our earth’s history we would be the last sentence of the last page. Yet, within that last sentence we have caused change that should have taken at least a couple chapters. Through our desire to control the nature that we have feared for so long, we consequently have blinded ourselves from what the earth itself needs to survive.

In order for us to have a world in the future that is similar to the one we know at the moment, “we must all become part of the neighborhood,” Foreman said. The heart and soul of the conservation movement, Foreman believes, is “to treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated.” All earthlings are part of this world—our neighbors. It is time for us to treat other living things as such.

By Hunter Mallinger

Zero Waste Is a Challenge Faced

I am a member of the Zero Waste Team here at the Environmental Center and I am very excited about the project I’m working on this year! Emma Kurfis, another Zero Waste Team member, and I are working on a Zero Waste Event Service Guide specific to Fort Lewis College. This guide will be available to everyone on campus and hopefully used by all of the event coordinators. We can also directly get involved with event coordinators to tailor the service to their specific event. To gain experience in the event planning process, we are working on several pilot events in which we partner with event coordinators to reduce the amount of waste produced at event. Skyfest is our next big pilot event, taking place on April 7th.

Skyfest music festival at Fort Lewis College

Skyfest is the highlight of the spring semester for many students, with bands from all over the country visiting FLC campus. Skyfest was outdoors in previous years. Photo courtesy of www.fortlewis.edu.

Skyfest is a big music festival put on by Student Union Productions at Fort Lewis each year, with headliner bands Gramatik and Radical Something making appearances at this year’s festival. Local bands will also play at the event. As part of the EC’s zero waste event service, Emma and I are working with the coordinators of Skyfest to reduce waste in as many aspects of the event as possible. This event is our first large pilot event to test out the service and in the organizing we have learned how challenging it can be to make an event less wasteful. There are so many areas to consider when planning a zero waste event, some of which are not in our control, as we are not the coordinators of the event. However, the coordinators are very open to our suggestions, which is awesome! Members of SUP have been supportive of our ideas and came up with a few ideas themselves. One of the main goals of our event servicing is to provide zero waste ideas and ingrain zero waste concepts in the minds of the coordinators, so that eventually event planners may attempt to make events less wasteful on their own.

There are several major aspects of Skyfest where we are working on to reduce the amount of waste produced. The first is trash. Ideally, we would like to have no trash produced at the event but this is highly unrealistic being that we can’t regulate what food or disposable items people bring into the event. However, we will be providing several recycling stations in the event to divert as as many recyclable items from landfills as possible. We are recruiting volunteers to help watch over the stations to ensure everything is recycled properly, as contamination is a huge problem with recycling here at Fort Lewis. This will also be a chance for us to spread some education on recycling to the campus community.

The second aspect of the event we are working with is water. When we first talked to the coordinators, they were going to provide bottled water for guests and the bands. We decided to set up water refilling stations instead. With the help of the Athletic Department, we secured several large water jugs for the event that we will refill throughout the event. Students are not allowed to bring full water bottles into the event but if they bring empty drink containers, they can fill them at the stations. There will also be a jug backstage for the bands. The coordinators of Skyfest are purchasing reusable plastic cups that they will hand out to anyone who does not have a water bottle. The cups can be taken home by guests and used or given back to the Skyfest coordinators to be washed and reused at different events.

At Skyfest, we will have an Environmental Center interactive table to teach people about zero waste, specifically recycling. There will be a game called the “Wheel of Recycling” that guests can take part in. After the event, we plan to measure our results by weighing how much trash and recycling were generated at the event. We can potentially take these statistics every year and compare results, aiming to reduce the amounts annually.

As you can imagine, the process of planning zero waste events can take a lot of time and can be very difficult. This process also involves lots of collaboration with other campus and sometimes community partners, and can also build great connections.

If you would like to volunteer to help with the waste reduction practices at Skyfest, please email one of us (below) or drop by the Environmental Center and sign up. The event is on Sunday, April 7th from noon to 9:30 p.m. in the Whalen Gymnasium. The event is free for students and $15 for community members, with tickets available in the SUP office in the Student Union. Come support Fort Lewis College and the environment!

For more information about the zero waste aspects of the event or the Zero Waste Event Servicing, you can email me (jmsmyke@fortlewis.edu) or Emma Kurfis (emkurfis@fortlewis.edu) or stop by the Environmental Center! For more information about Skyfest, you can visit the SUP office in the Student Union.

By Jessica Smyke

Putting the “Real” into Real Food

This past February, three members of the Environmental Center’s campus sustainability team traveled to Baltimore, Maryland to attend a Real Food Challenge Breaking Ground Summit. There, the team members met over 200 other like-minded students from over 70 universities, discussed ideas and tactics and ate delicious “real food.”

So what is real food? The Real Food Challenge is a nation-wide campaign that promotes the preparation of food that is produced locally with ethical, humane and environmentally sound practices in college campus dinning halls. The Real Food Challenge works to encourage college campuses across the nation to commit to serving 20% real food by 2020.

Switching to 20% local, ethical, humane and environmentally sound food is indeed a challenge. Adopting such a large percentage of new food requires stepping into uncharted territory—establishing new practices in food production (where we get the real food), purchasing (bringing it to the kitchens), and preparation (how it is cooked). At the three day conference, the Breaking Ground Summit provided students with helpful insights and tools through panel discussions and a series of workshops like Food System Working Groups: Building the Real Food System on CampusOrganizing & Strategic Campaign Planning and Food Justice: Privilege & Oppression in the Food System. Just as important as information, the summit provided an opportunity for networking. Our Fort Lewis students were able to make connections with nearby schools working on the Real Food Challenge such Denver University, who is in a similar stage. They were also able to swap ideas from other schools of similar size and dinning programs.

A photo from the Real Food Challenge Breaking-Ground Summit in Baltimore, MD.

A panel discussion including producers, consumers and distributors associated with a dinning service at an East coast school participating in the Real Food Challenge. Photo courtesy of Melanie Weber-Sauer.

Right now, Fort Lewis College is still just sprouting into the first stages of the Real Food Challenge. Stay tuned for our next steps and how we plan on moving our school towards a more sustainable dinning program!

For more information on the Real Food Challenge, check out their web site http://www.realfoodchallenge.org/. Or, feel free to email me at miwebersauer@fortlewis.edu.

By Melanie Weber-Sauer

Canning Salsa

Canning Food

Canning Food

Canning food is important in more than one way. Canning use to be very important tradition in many families in the past.  Food preservation or canning was a way of life for many people. There is a gap in cultural knowledge of canning food because we are so depended on industries to can food for us. We depend on Mass Production and Mass Transportation to deliver food to us from 100 of miles away. But we can change all that if we bring back the tradition of canning food and being less depended on the Food industry for the food we eat.

Canning is also called Natural Storage because you can preserve fruits and vegetables in their natural state. It is an excellent way to store food you’ve grown on your own. Nuts, beans, peas, and grains store well in their natural state. An interesting fact that everybody should know is that you can store potatoes, winter squash, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes in cool places for 6 months!

The canning process can be fun, you can do it by yourself or you can can with friends and make it an activity to do every other month or when you pick the foods you’ve grown to store. To can you can use many different methods but the easiest and most popular is the Boiling Water Bath or Stem Canning process, this process is great for preserving high acid foods like; fruits, jams, pickles and jellies. For this process you have to boil water to 212 degrees (F). Using a Pressure Canner is the best way to process low acid foods such as; meats, beans, and vegetables. The Pressure Canner can reach temperature as high as 240 degrees (F), which is needed because high temperatures in both processes are needed to kill off bacteria that cause food to spoil.

We decided to make and can salsa because it seemed quick, easy and fun; which it was.  We used the Boiling Water Process to can the salsa, because it was the fastest and easiest. The first step we did was make the salsa of course, the second step was to boil water and place the jars and lids in the pot for 5 minutes to sterilize them, next we poured the salsa in the jar leaving ¼ of space at the top, next we made sure there was no air bubbles in the jar, and we cleaned the jar and rim so no bacteria well form, then we place the lids on top and sealed it, and last but not least we boiled the jar with salsa in it and we were done.

It was a fun experience learning how to can salsa and learning the importance of canning food. Canning helps you eat in season and extends your season without having to buy food that was transported from another country. Eating in season is also healthier and better for you. Everyone should learn how to can because it fun, and a great way to bring friends and family together for a great night of canning foods.

YES YOU CAN CAN!

~ Tamara Sandoval

The problem of nuclear power plants

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Have you ever thought about the problem of nuclear power?

Nuclear power is an important world problem. After the earthquake on March 11 in Japan, I had a lot of opportunities to think about nuclear power plants. For instance, “How can people continue getting energy without nuclear power plants?” “Which is more important: safety or its usefulness?” and so on. As a Japanese person, I would like to write about nuclear power. I would like people to know more about the situation in Japan and how dangerous nuclear power plants are.

Nuclear power and Japan

Now in Japan, the problem of nuclear power plants is very important. Because of the earthquake, the nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture has collapsed. And the people who were living around the power plants took refuge from where they lived. Still now, they cannot go back there. That is why there are many problems in education, economy, and health. For example, in the case of education, many children who got affected by the nuclear power plant and took refuge became late in their studies, and because of it, the difference in education is increasing. I got this information through newspapers or on TV before I came to Fort Lewis College and while teaching junior high school children who took refuge from the Fukushima prefecture. Before the accidents of the nuclear power plants, Japan was aiming to increase the number of nuclear power plants in order to increase the self-sustenance of energy in Japan. However, now Japan is searching for new ideas to keep the balance between the safety and reaching energy stability.

Nuclear power and Native Americans

After I came to Fort Lewis, I learned about Native Americans. In my class, I learned about Native Americans and the environment. This is the news I got from Native American times:

“In all, about 10 percent of all power plants operate within 20 miles of reservation land, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Many of those 51 energy production centers are more than a half-century old and affect roughly 48 tribes living on 50 reservations. Fewer than 2 percent of all people in the United States identify as Native American and only a small portion live on tribal land.” (Native American times 6th July 2012 – http://www.nativetimes.com/news/environment/7422-many-native-americans-live-next-to-power-plants)

The reason why the government tries to establish nuclear power plants is to help the economy. I would like for Native American leaders to look at the situation in Japan and think about the health of their people, because I believe that without health we cannot keep the economy well.

~ Hanae Miyabo