Eating for a change on National Food Day

SU Students got a lesson in ethical eating as part of a seminar for National Food Day, Monday.

 “Do you respect food? Do you appreciate it, recognize its value and how it serves you?” 


These are the questions Father Linus DeSantis of the Alibrandi Catholic Center asked a group of SU and ESF students, faculty and staff at the last Ethics of Eating seminar on Oct. 24–National Food Day. The 6-week series that took place on Monday nights from 6:30 to 8 p.m. shed light on how our eating habits have lasting effects on our behavior and society as a whole. At each seminar, a dinner was provided that related to the evening’s topic. Monday it was about ethics. 


Vegan couscous with roasted root vegetables, vegan spaghetti squash with tomato, lemon and caper sauce, turkey feta and spinach meatballs with tzatziki and vegan chocolate cupcakes were on the menu. 


Students scarfed down the delectable treats as the evening’s speaker, Adam C’DeBaca, showed clips from the documentary “Food Inc.” to demonstrate both the overwhelming inaccessibility to healthy food for the majority of American families – especially minority ones. The ethical implications of “patenting life” that chemical manufacturer Monsanto has been doing with its genetically engineered soybean was also part of the documentary.


C’DeBaca, 28, a social sciences master’s student and self-professed “foodie,” related to the images on the screen. He shared his experience of growing up in a single parent home in Texas. He recalled how difficult it was for his mother to provide food for him, how the drive-thru was more familiar than the dinner table. 


“What it means to eat ethically is to know your place in the world, to know how the food system works, maybe in your favor or not in your favor and understanding that your focus and intent should be on knowing the problems and doing something about it – to take action,” C’DeBaca said. 


The seminar was largely discussion driven and focused on the current Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Syracuse movements. For Caroline Savage, 23, seminar organizer and environmental studies graduate student at ESF, the conversation came as unexpected. 


“When the discussion first started to turn I cringed, but as long as people are interested and engaged that’s what’s important,” she said. 


For C’DeBaca, mention of the Occupy movements was about recognizing one’s potential to enact change. 


“You are privileged,” he tells the students, “and to acknowledge that privilege is the first step to realizing what this responsibility entails and to educate others to take action in even a small way.” 

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