FRP Director Nicole Civita just returned from a quick trip to Austin, Texas where she had the pleasure of presenting a lecture titled The Law of Food Recovery: Reducing Risk, Maximizing Benefit & Creating Culture at the Austin Zero Food Waste Forum. The Forum, a multi-day, multi-stakeholder event was designed to gather, educate, and generate productive dialog among professionals, students, schools, organizations, businesses, and individuals who know that composting is valuable but recognize the need to do more to tackle America’s food waste problem. This event was sponsored and organized by the US Zero Waste Business Council, in partnership with Austin Resource Recovery, the City of Austin (which is getting very serious about its local food system), and EndFoodWaste.org.
As always, Nicole enjoyed the opportunity to represent the LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law and educate attendees about the legal aspects of food waste prevention and recovery promotion. This time, though, she was especially impressed with the passion, vision and determination of the attendees and of her co-panelists including:
Brandi Clark Burton, City of Austin (moderator)
Russell Cavin, Director of Special Events, Keep Austin Fed
Bethany Carney, Food Sourcing Supervisor, Capital Area Food Bank of Texas
Stephen Sturdivant, EPA Region 6- Dallas
Vince Delisi, Assistant Division Manager, Austin/Travis County Health & Human Services/Environmental Health
These folks are all unquestionably committed to building a less wasteful and more sustainable food future for Texas’s “weirdest” city and for communities throughout Travis County and the greater Capital area. The quality of the questions during the panel and conversations throughout the Forum demonstrated that our collective thinking about food waste is rapidly becoming more sophisticated and actionable interventions are getting off the ground. Innovative solutions — such as those advanced by Ethan Welty of FallingFruit.org, an interactive mapping project that helps foragers find and share the locations of edible plants in the urban commons; Joshua Blaine of in.gredients, a neighborhood microgrocer selling package-free local food with pure ingredients; Dustin Fedako of Compost Pedallers, a 100% bike-powered compost recycling program; and Russell Cavin of Keep Austin Fed, a 501(c)(3) that gathers wholesome surplus food from commercial kitchens and distributes it directly to area feeding charities — point us in the direction of a much more conservation-centric food future.
A wrap up of this event would be incomplete without lauding and expressing gratitude for the tireless efforts of anti-food waste activist Jordan Figueiredo of EndFoodWaste.org, who invited Professor Civita to the Forum after collaborating with her on the #TheSaveFood10. Figueiredo is the force behind the first Zero Waste Food Forum and the Feeding the 5000 Oakland held in northern California in October 2014, as well as the wildly successful Ugly Fruit & Veg campaign (Twitter, Facebook), which has drawn an astonishing amount of media attention to the problem of food waste and unreasonable aesthetic standards for produce in recent months.
Stay tuned for our next post, which will detail a new framework for and approach to fighting food waste that Professor Civita unveiled at the Forum…