A Good Question Goes a Long Way

April 8, 2010

Washington D.C.


As I travel along the East Coast, giving presentations about “The Story Behind the Food” that we eat, every audience is different. Some are wide-eyed and silent, asking few questions. Some have seen “Food, Inc.”, or read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and are eager to learn more. And then some groups are all about asking challenging questions. These groups are typically made up of individuals who are very passionate about food issues, and are excited to learn about what Bon Appétit is doing to create change, but are not afraid to challenge us either.


I recently went to such a college—I was invited to speak as part of the Green Lecture Series at Gallaudet University, school for the deaf and hard of hearing in Washington D.C. And I as I gave the presentation I’ve been giving at colleges across the East Coast this semester, the boisterous, good-natured Gallaudet crowd didn’t stop raising their hands. As I described the detrimental impacts of our current seafood system, one woman promptly responded “So then why are you serving salmon for this event?” When I told them about our reduced-antibiotic policy, one student said, “So how do you ensure that the beef and poultry you serve aren’t contaminated with disease, if you’re not using antibiotics?” When I mentioned that all our beef, vegetables, bottled water and non-tropical fruit come from North America (therefore decreasing CO2 emissions that would otherwise be devoted to air-freighting these products), I was asked “Why do you serve bottled water at all?”


A favorite high school teacher of mine once told me: “If you learn nothing else in this class, I want you to learn how to ask questions. Never stop asking why. It’s the first step to making a difference.” So to all those who raised their hands in the Gallaudet crowd, I say: Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep asking questions of companies, of institutions, of yourselves—and I think you’ll have a very green future ahead of you.


And thanks for all the great questions.


Written by Carolina Fojo, East Coast Fellow for Bon Appétit Mgmt. Co.