Arts & Culture

BDS emphasizes sustainability for Earth Day

Andrews, Blue Room, Ratty to provide seasonal, local meals in celebration of national holiday

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 19, 2016

For one night this week, students can get all-local food for the price of a meal swipe.

The Sharpe Refectory will act as the centerpiece of Brown Dining Services’ week-long celebration of Earth Day Tuesday. In addition to redecorating the Ratty, Dining Services is revising its menu to offer the finest and freshest in the Ocean State, all in the name of Earth.

Isabelle Aubrun ’16, sustainability intern for dining services, described Tuesday’s dinner as an “interactive eating laboratory.” The menu, designed by Executive Chef John O’Shea and his culinary team, is tailored to the theme of sustainability. Each appetizer, entree and dessert is cooked with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, meaning garlic, potatoes, onions and seafood will all be given plenty of air time in the kitchen.  Aubrun describes the menu as “a snapshot in time” of Rhode Island’s late-April food scene.

Though BuDS regularly relies on local farms and factories, Aubrun says the produce is rarely served in the same meal. But, this Tuesday, it’s all local all the way, as Quahog Chowder from Ocean State Seafood will be served with pork chops from Rhode Island’s Niman Ranch and topped off with cheese from Providence’s Narragansett Creamery. 

It’s not just the buffet section that’s getting an upgrade. The Ratty’s tables will be covered with burlap coffee sacks and adorned with flowers housed in mason jars. “It’s just a spring-barn-wedding feel basically,” Aubrun said.

Dining Services will use Tuesday’s dinner to spotlight the student groups working around the clock to keep Brown green. One of these groups is the Food Recovery Network, which regularly delivers leftover food to those in need. Students from the group will set up shop in the Ratty Tuesday to educate students on the 30-60 pounds of leftovers the FRN collects each day, from locations such as Blue State and the Blue Room.

To attract diners to its stand, Megan Kelly ’17, a member of FRN, said her group will set up a “blender-bike,” which Ratty-goers can ride to power their own drinks. As students cycle, the bike will blend fruits, milk and yogurt into a self-powered smoothie. Depending on pedaling ability, bikers should have a smoothie in two to three minutes. Aubrun expects the bike to act as the crowning piece of the event. “It’s kind of the sustainability version of the photo booth,” she said.

Those not interested in exercising for their meal can seek their gastronomical entertainment elsewhere. Throughout the night, a real-time account of how much discarded dinner is generated will be recorded on a white board by students from Brown Green Events, an initiative that helps make campus events as sustainable as possible.

While they count, the members of the Green Events team will make use of their position by the waste station to teach students the dos and don’ts of composting Ratty food. Beginning this July, Brown will begin enforcing composting at all dining locations.

Carlie Peters ’16, a Green Event Certification Intern and former Herald design editor, said students aren’t always clear on what goes where, which means Brown’s compost usually ends up contaminated. Because there’s no “clean product,” much of it is shipped to a pig farm, and the rest ends up dumped in the trash. Peters said Green Events will be on deck Tuesday night to tell students they’ll “be able to compost everything (they)’re eating tonight, except for the staple in the tea bag.” This, she said, will have to be taken out by hand.

The Ratty’s not the only dining place getting a makeover this Earth Day. The Blue Room will set aside its traditional Wednesday evening naked burrito to make room for the grain bowl, embellished with quinoa, kale, pomegranate and sunflower seeds. Andrews will also do its part to honor local foods with cheese samples from Narragansett Creamery and grinders with Daniele Charcuterie’s meats. Even the ice cream sandwiches will feature coffee syrup from Dave’s Coffee on South Main Street. Rarely does a meal credit stretch so far.