Global Neighborhood Association kicks off spring semester

The GNA hosted its first house dinner of the spring semester with great food and great conversations led by Steve Moore, lecturer in environmental studies.

More than a hundred students, faculty and staff gathered on Tuesday, Feb. 3 at Lakeside for a tasty buffet dinner featuring Spanish cuisine. After dinner,  Steve Moore, lecturer in environmental studies, discussed multidisciplinary issues about food production and consumption.

Moore began with a framework to consider food issues. When thinking about food choices, we must consider environmental issues like ecosystem services and carrying capacity, which is the maximum population size of a species that an environment can sustain. Moore also touched on issues of food sovereignty, defined as the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods. Finally, Moore talked about the economic costs of food, including energy and resources like water and land.  He showed the audience how to consider diet from the point of view of energy efficiency: how much energy is used to produce and transport food compared to the calories (which are energy) gained when we consume food.

Though he stopped short of telling the group to all become vegetarians, Moore made effective points about the significantly higher costs of meat production compared to other agricultural products. But the issue is complicated. Moore also pointed out that livestock production is a huge part of the global economy and provides income for 1.3 billion people worldwide. 

After Moore’s presentation, students asked a number of questions about how fish fits in to this model and the role of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in food production.  He stressed that “organic” is not the same as “sustainable.”  Then lively discussions took place at all the tables about the variety of issues raised.

The Global Neighborhood Association has many exciting and thought-provoking events planned for the rest of the semester. On Feb. 16, the GNA will host a coffee hour with the Office of Sustainability, and on Feb. 23 the GNA will show the film “The Lunchbox.” Next month’s house dinner on March 1 will feature Safia Swimelar, associate professor of political science and policy studies, and Lenore Bradford from the Piedmont Animal Refuge. Dinner will be vegan.