Conference story in Princeton Echo

PRINCETON STUDIES LUNCH: The menu, prepared by Chef Jerry Luz of Campus Dining, included braised winter greens, quinoa with vegetables, rice with lentils and slow-caramelized onions, hummus, roasted roots and a meatball sampling. (Click on photo to read conference panelists’ biographies.)

Thanks to Pat Tanner for her piece in the Princeton Echo on our February conference, Changing Climate, Changing Appetites! And thanks to all who worked and came together to create such a successful conference, especially Eliza Wright ’19, Daniel Shepard ’19, Madelynn Prendergast ’19, Rozalie Czesana ’18, Caroline Savage and Gina Talt from Sustainability, Chuck Crosby at WWS, everyone at PEI and of course funders Gordon Douglas MD ’55 and Sheila Mahoney S’55.
From the piece: As you will see, my correspondents differ one from another in what they took away from the full range of panels and panelists. But almost everyone mentioned one of the most unexpected and unique aspects of the conference: lunch! The conference organizers had partnered with chef Jerry Luz of the campus dining department to produce a “lunch-and-learn” menu that reflected and provided information on some of the key agricultural and environmental issues surrounding food production and consumption that were under discussion.

The most innovative aspect was a tasting of four kinds of meatballs. We attendees were asked to fill our plates with those and other options from a buffet outside the auditorium and then return to our seats to consume it. The menu focused on plant-forward dishes like hummus, quinoa, roasted vegetables, and fruit salad, but also included the bite-size meatballs. We then took an instant survey using our smartphones to rank the meatballs. The choices were all-beef, beef with whole grain, all-bean and vegetable (vegan), and salmon. Interestingly, beef with whole grain was the crowd favorite and served to reinforce the point that it doesn’t have to be onerous to make small but impactful changes in diet and eating patterns.

For Karla Cook, co-founder and coordinator of Princeton Studies Food (as well as founder of Princeton School Gardens Co-op), the lunch-and-learn was the most profound part of the conference she helped organize. The concept for the lunch, she writes, “grew out of Professor Dan Rubenstein’s idea to have our lunch match principles of the WRI report co-authored by Tim Searchinger.” Both men are lecturers at Princeton, and both were participants in the first panel of the day, “Framing the Challenge.”

Sampling, surveying at Food Expo

Congratulations to The Michelin Stars of Butler College, victors in the 2017 Tiger Chef Challenge. (Photo: Campus Dining)

Melissa Mirota, registered dietitian for PU, illustrated a month’s worth of food choices available at residential dining halls. (Photo: Rozalie Czesana)

The beef patty on a typical hamburger requires 630 gallons of water to produce. (Photo: Cecila Sheng)

Sea to Table’s Acadian Redfish, bottom, and Spiny Dogfish displayed at Campus Dining’s Food Expo at Dillon. (Photo: Rozalie Czesana)


Last Friday, alongside the excitement of the second year of the Tiger Chef Challenge student cooking contest (congratulations to Butler College!), Dillon Gym was also transformed to a bustling food expo, with a steady stream of students stopping to sample foods at booths of Campus Dining vendors and taking time to test their sustainability knowledge in exchange for prizes.

One highlight was tuna ceviche, crafted on the spot by the rep from Mission Foods, which supplies dining halls with a variety of Mexican-themed foods and ingredients.

Alissa Westrvelt of the Brooklyn-based Sea to Table, a seafood distributor that connects small-scale fisheries with clients, displayed Acadian Redfish and Spiny Dogfish, two fish species that Princeton students can taste across the dining halls.

Melissa Mirota, the registered dietitian at PU, presented a National Nutrition Month Scavenger Hunt, in which the Tiger Challenge visitors were invited to explore the nutritional benefits of several foods at the expo: red lentils and quinoa from RC Fine Foods, coffee from Princeton-based Small World and yogurts from Chobani, among others. Participants received a fruit-infuser water bottle. Mirota also supplied a 30 Day Whole Food Challenge poster, which listed a recipe for every day in March. She said she was inspired by Mark Bittman, former food writer at The New York Times who said, ”It’s not the beta-carotene, it’s the carrot. The evidence is very clear that plants promote health.”

At the Greening Dining table hosted by Sarah Bavuso, sustainability manager for Campus Dining, students, faculty, and other visitors picked up a full backpack to feel the weight of the amount of food wasted by an average student during one month: 22.8 pounds. Visitors also learned how much water it takes to produce one burger, in which the vast majority of water consumption comes from the meat patty. Visitors also could take a survey regarding their opinions about food waste and sustainability and hear more about transparency in ingredient procurement. (Greening Dining is a student group that works with Campus Dining to make Princeton dining as sustainable as possible.)

Please join us on Friday! Click on the poster to reach the registration page, to see the agenda and to read about our panelists and moderators.

Join us 2/17: Changing Climate, Changing Appetites

Please register and join us at Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall on Friday, Feb 17, for a day of debate and solutions-oriented discussions on how to deliciously nourish ourselves and the global population while protecting our Earth and its finite resources. Discussions will feature 5-minute quick takes by each panelist, with the remainder of each panel dedicated to audience Q&A. We will explore behavioral science and how we can change our appetites, secrets of making these foods delicious and crave-worthy, the role of marketing and advertising in the effort and the power and politics of the food/ag/hospitality sector. Please plan to stay with us through the day! Scroll down to see our agenda (expect a few tweaks as we get closer); bios here.

As background reading, we offer the World Resources Institute report, Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future (PDF), co-authored by Timothy Searchinger, a research scholar/lecturer at PU and co-founder of our Princeton Studies Food Council, which provides the framework of our conference.

And come hungry. For the first time, this conference will feature a lunch-and-learn menu – in partnership with Chef Jerry Luz and his colleagues at Campus Dining — for registered attendees. Lunch will include a tasting, so bring your smartphone to participate in the instant survey as you sample. NOTE: REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR LUNCH.

Logistics: If you’re driving, there are metered spots on the streets (most nearby are metered two-hour spots) or park in Lot 21 (directions here) and take the shuttle or walk to Robertson Hall. or there is a shuttle you can take from the parking lot. There is also metered parking if you can find a spot nearby. If you are taking the train, there’s information here

A special thanks to Chuck Crosby at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs-STEP Program, our logistics wizard, and to Chef Jerry Luz of Campus Dining for his expertise for our lunch – and to all whose work before us has enabled this group and this symposium, the third for Princeton Studies Food.

– Karla Cook, co-founder and coordinator, Princeton Studies Food

Food for a Sustainable World & How to Get There

Friday, February 17, 2017; Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall

PANEL ONE 8:30 – 9:45

MODERATOR Gordon Douglas MD ’55 Weill Cornell Medical College; Co-Founder, Princeton Studies Food
Tim Searchinger, Research Scholar, Woodrow Wilson School and the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy; Lecturer in the Princeton Environmental Institute; Princeton University. Co-Founder, Princeton Studies Food
Dan Rubenstein, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology; Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Director, Program in Environmental Studies, Princeton University
Brent Kim, Program Officer, Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins University

COFFEE: 9:45 – 10:15

PANEL TWO 10:15-11:25

MODERATOR: Daniel Shepard ‘19
Debbie Prentice, Dean of the Faculty; Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University
Elke Weber, Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment; Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School; Princeton University
Christina A. Roberto ‘04, Medical School Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

PANEL THREE 11:25-12:35

MODERATOR: Reuwai Mount Hanewald, Terhune Orchards, Princeton, NJ
David Benzaquen, Plant Based Solutions
Mark Shepard ’P19, Farmer and author, “Restoration Agriculture”
Constantine Katsifis, Owner, Americana Diner, Hightstown, NJ
Terry Ingram, East Regional Manager, Organic Valley Cooperative

PRINCETON STUDIES LUNCH: 12:35-1:20 (see menu below)

MODERATOR: Dan Rubenstein, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology; Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Director, Program in Environmental Studies, Princeton University.
Smitha Haneef, Menu Narrative:  Executive Director, Princeton University Campus Dining Meatball Tasting & Poll Everywhere instant survey
Posters: Hummus: Eliza Wright ’19; Megadarra: Daniel Shepard ’19; Roasted Roots, Madelynn Prendergast ‘19

PANEL FOUR 1:20 – 2:30

MODERATOR: Lyndon Estes, Associate Research Scholar, Woodrow Wilson School and the Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, Princeton University
Steve Pacala, Frederick D. Petrie Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Director, Carbon Mitigation Initiative, Princeton University
Forrest Meggers, Assistant Professor of Architecture and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, Princeton University
David Wilcove, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Public Affairs and the Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton University

PANEL FIVE 2:30 – 4:00

MODERATOR Eliza Wright ‘19
Kristen Rainey, Global Food Program Vendor & Supplier Relations Manager, Google Food
Richard Waite, Research Associate, World Resources Institute
Rachel Sylvan, Director, Engagement and Strategic Partnerships (Office of Sustainability), Sodexo

COFFEE: Available at 4 p.m.

PANEL SIX 4:10 – 5:15

MODERATOR: Rozalie Czesana ‘18
Sarah Schindler, Visiting Research Scholar, Woodrow Wilson School and the Program in Law and Public Affairs, Princeton University
Tim Griffin, Director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment program; associate professor at the Friedman School, Tufts University
Miriam Nelson, Director, Sustainability Institute, University of New Hampshire

RECEPTION & MEETUP at E-HUB sponsored by our partners: PU Keller Center and PU Career Services



Chef Jerry Luz, PU Campus Dining Services

Animal Protein: Turf & Dairy

Sample and survey one of each meatball: Beef with whole grain, all-bean and vegetable, fish
Sauce on the side

Beans, Pulses & Legumes

*Hummus: Chickpea Puree with Lemon and Tahini and Carrot Sticks
*Megadarra: Brown Lentils with Slow-Caramelized Onions & Toasted Pine Nuts over Brown Basmati Rice with Scallions

Whole Grains, Seeds & Nuts

Quinoa Pilaf with Vegetables, Herbs, Lemon and Toasted Nuts

Vegetables: Seasonal & Storage Produce

*Roasted Root Vegetables: Beets, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots & Onions with NJ Cranberries
Braised Collards and Kale Two Ways: Vegetarian and with Smoked Turkey


Shaved NJ Apple and Orange Salad with NJ Honey

*Poster for selected menu items will detail recipe for four servings, blue/green water use, emissions, time for preparation, planning requirements, human nutrition benefits and cost at the supermarket.

Changing climate, changing appetites: Conference on Feb 17!

This piece gets at the subject of our one-day food conference coming up on Friday, Feb 17 on campus, Changing Climate, Changing Appetites. More details and registration to come, but please do mark your calendar and plan to stay for the day for panels discussions (heavy on the Q&A!) that explore behavioral science and how we change our appetites, secrets of making these foods delicious and crave-worthy (from land to kitchen), the role of marketing and advertising in the effort and the power and politics of the food/ag sector. There will be a delicious lunch for those registered; sessions will build on each other. The event is open to the public.

With that in mind, please do click through and read this whole piece from the Atlantic – and begin compiling your questions for Feb 17!

From the essay: Large-scale animal agriculture has become a primary driver of climate change. We are eating and producing much more meat than ever before. The human population is on pace to hit 10 billion by the middle of the century; that’s 10 times as many people as there were in 1800. When we find a way to grow delicious red meat in petri dishes, then we can discuss exactly how much is healthy to eat. For now, the only way forward for our species seems to be to consider meat as something closer to a delicacy.

…The most common January undertaking in “new year, new you,” is dietary—shifting the actual molecules that fuel everything we do. Most of us will fail to meaningfully change, and then feel only more inadequate in that failure.

We fail because absurd goals can never be maintained, and because sometimes our own bodies (partly the way we were born, but mostly the way we’ve trained them to demand constant supplies of simple carbohydrates and insulin) make it almost impossible not to fail—to live without feeling deprived and hungry and joyless.

Maybe most important, many people fail when they don’t truly believe in what they’re doing. The gratification of sugar is immediate, and the idea of a paralyzing stroke decades hence is remote. It seems there are more important things to worry about right now.

…Changing the way we eat is a major change. It will involve multiple decisions every day. Presumably our old habits existed for reasons—convenience, enjoyment, availability, cost, marketing, etc. Modifying the habits that these conditions created means hard work and requires dedication to a cause. I’m not convinced that concern for the health of our bodies years in the future is sufficient.

I’m not even sure the promise of modifying our appearances is enough. The neurologist Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning that the key is to avoid the temptation to pursue happiness—like that being sold to us through all of the new-year deals—but to pursue meaning. Piles of research have shown that a sense of purpose is a central to long, healthy life.

There’s purpose to be had in how we eat—in how conscientious we can be, how minimally we can disrupt the world for those that will come after us and those working to produce and procure our food. I think this is a sustainable and worthy resolution for a healthier way to eat, if you’re intent on making one. It works for the mind and body at once, and, most importantly, not just our own.


Save the date: Friday, Feb 17!

DSC05108.JPGWe’re currently planning our third Princeton Studies Food conference for Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 and are using as a blueprint Tim Searchinger’s recent report, Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future (PDF), from the World Resources Institute. We’ll be looking at ways to effect behavioral change, specifically, reducing consumption of industrially produced beef – and what to eat instead.

Each of the participants – panelists and moderator — will speak for 3-5 minutes, and hold to 3-4 slides; the rest of the panel time will be devoted to Q&A. It’s a format we’ve found to be highly engaging and exciting.

Our draft conference agenda could change, but as of now, the panels are roughly:
1. What’s the current situation
2. How to change minds
3. How to facilitate a shift in behavior via supporting systems
4. How to change the menu (lunch & learn!!)
5. How to change policy

Last year’s conference was SRO at Dodds Auditorium; we’re expecting the same level of interest for this gathering as well.

Check back here for updates as they develop.

Applying ecosystems lessons to human-made systems

In the Christian Science Monitor, Professor Simon Levin poses the question: What can Mother Nature teach us about managing financial systems?

Like ecosystems, financial markets are complex evolving systems from which unexpected bubbles, crashes, and other surprising behaviors can emerge. Building resilient financial systems may require policymakers to take cues from biology.

More from the story:

Just as an ecosystem ecologist is focused on the cycling of crucial elements like carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, so too might a “financial ecologist” focus on the sustainable cycling of crucial elements like capital, labor, and financial innovation.

Read the piece by Levin, James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, here.