After so much rain over the last few weeks, it was great to see the sun again on Sunday. We spent some time at the Fermentation Festival in the Seaholm District near downtown.
There were also workshops being held throughout the day at the Austin Public Library, which is a world-class facility if you haven’t been. All in all it was a well-attended event with a lively mix of fermented food and drink vendors. The samples were top-notch!
I thought this was a good reminder of how closely agriculture is tied to a greener and more sustainable economy. In the context of food, the calories that don’t make it to the farm or the fork still require a lot of energy to produce. That’s waste on multiple fronts, and it’s massive.
The last few months have been a whirlwind for food waste efforts in Austin. Our working group wrapped up our first event on January 23rd, which was the kick-off and stakeholder meeting for the Year of Food Waste Prevention in Austin. More than 60 people attended, and included city officials, department heads, industry leaders and community advocates. The goal of the meeting was to launch and formalize the city-wide initiative around food waste in Austin.
Local green advocate Brandi Clark Burton led the meeting, and presented much of the research we’ve compiled from a local and national perspective. The first half of the meeting included the speakers below, who pledged their support for the initiative:
Brandi Clark Burton, Founder & Chief Inspiration Officer Austin EcoNetwork and EcoCampaigns
Laura Morrison, Austin City Council member
Lucia Athens, City of Austin Chief Sustainability Officer
Bob Gedert, Director of Austin Resource Recovery
Dr. Philip Huang, Medical Director/Health Authority
Vince Delisi, Assistant Division Manager, HHSD
Skeeter Miller, Austin Restaurant Association President, County Line & Cannoli Joe’s Owner & President
Following the presentation, we broke into working groups by industry cluster to address some of the challenges each segment might encounter as food is diverted from landfills. The working groups also identified where innovation might provide a boost — and perhaps most important — what the vision needs to be as things progress.
Response to the event was very positive. Here’s how people responded to the evaluation:
“I found the content important” 4.88(with 5 being the highest)
“I found the content relevant to me” 4.75
“Collaboration was evident”4.34
“This event will positively impact Austin” 4.46
“The city of Austin can accomplish a radical reduction of food waste” 4.63
We’re very excited about the momentum, but realize this is an ongoing fight. We’ve scheduled our next meeting for March 20h, so let us know if you’d like to help.