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.”