AppalFRESH sparks conversation about sustainable food systems and conservation

Ansley Puckett

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A table as long as Sanford Mall with utensils and plates brought from different homes was the backdrop AppalFRESH, a research collaborative for sustainable eating, used to create conversation about food systems and conservation efforts. 

Appalachian Food Research for Equity, Sustainability and Health was formed by faculty across campus who work in sustainable food systems, which create a direct relationship between food producers and consumers.

Carla Ramsdell, a pre-engineering adviser who works with the group, said AppalFRESH’s goals are to promote a better understanding of sustainable food systems and create a conversation about them.

“We just try to figure out how we can have some impact on people’s perspectives about food systems and how we can envision a future food system that’s more equitable and sustainable,” Ramsdell said.

Ansley Puckett

The collaborative holds different events each year, including Food for Thought Talks and its most recent event, the Community Feast, a near-zero waste event that aimed to create conversations about sustainable food around a table on Sanford Mall. AppalFRESH hosted this year’s Community Feast on Oct. 22.

Ramsdell said the events are meant to emphasize the importance of food systems in relation to conservation efforts. 

“Food, I think, is underrepresented in our discussions about energy efficiency and as an energy source,” Ramsdell said. “Food is really energy, and so we should be managing it as responsibly as our fossil fuels and all of our other streams.”

Grace Plummer, who works in the Appalachian Energy Center and The Research Institute for Environment, Energy and Economics, said what people eat has an impact on the environment.

“I think that food is a really immediate and impactful thing that we could do day to day that have positive or negative impacts on the world around us,” Plummer said.

App State purchased 25.71% of its food from local sources during the 2017-18 academic year in an effort to make food offered on campus more sustainable, according to Campus Dining’s website.

Chancellor Sheri Everts, who attended AppalFRESH’s Community Feast, said sustainable eating is an essential part of App State’s campus. 

“(Sustainable food) is just part of our DNA, anything associated with sustainability is part of Appalachian, and this is a fabulous display of exactly that,” Everts said.