Making Positive Changes, by a student at Redlands University

The American Meat film screening and panel discussion at the University of Redlands on January 31, 2013 was a major success in terms of educating a large audience and building community in Redlands.  

The panel discussion brought together people with different perspectives and backgrounds with a common interest in creating sustainable alternatives to the current practices of the meat industry. Panelists included Carrie Anne Parker, owner of the local business Rolling Hills Herbs and Annuals, Marc Powers the head chef at Bon Appetit dining services on campus, Daniel Klooster, and environmental studies professor with a particular interest in food sustainability, and myself, a the Sustainability Representative in the Associate Students of the University of Redlands. Graham Meriwether did a fantastic job of both moderating the event and sharing his perspective as someone directly involved with the making of the film.  

Many of the questions pertained to how we can work towards a more sustainable future regarding food in Redlands. The panelists were able to share insights about the availability of local fresh food and Redlands and ways to reduce industrialized meat consumption. Carrie Anne spoke about how her family only consumes local, ethically raised meat. Because this type of meat is more expensive, her family consumes meat significantly less frequently than an average American family. There is a misconception in this country about how much protein we need in a healthy diet to sustain us. Additionally, many fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds are protein-rich and the nutritional value of non-meat protein often is unrecognized and undervalued in our society.  

Marc Powers spoke about how he cooks large meals for his family and has learned to use recipes that make less meat go a longer way. This technique saves his family lots of money, and they get to enjoy his skillful home cooking on a daily basis.

Both Daniel Klooster and I spoke about the abundance of local, fresh food available in the area. Living in Southern California, we are fortunate enough to have the ability to grow almost anything for the whole year. Food can often grow during the winter season because of the abundance of rain and the rarity of freezing temperatures. There are at least three weekly farmers markets in the area.

Collectively, the panel referred to several grassroots groups that have gathered in Redlands in order to combat environmental and social problems, including the Redlands Sustainability Network, Slowfood Redlands, Occupy Redlands, and the Good Neighbor Coalition.

The panel helped the audience to comprehend how our actions as individuals and collective efforts in the community, can make positive changes towards a more sustainable future in regards to food consumption. As a whole, the event was incredibly successful and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the Leave It Better organization. 

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