Submitted by Sia Mohsenzadegan, Resident District Manager
One of the best parts about breaking bread together as a community is the chance to sit down and enjoy not just the exchange of tastes, but ideas. America’s fast food habits, which mostly involve people eating alone on the run, don’t allow that to happen.
So it was a wonderful treat to have Eric Schlosser, the journalist who wrote the game-changing book Fast Food Nation—the 2001 book that exposed the unsustainable food safety, labor, and animal welfare issues of the fast food industry—visit University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA, for a talk, several farm tours, and a convivial meal. Schlosser has long been an advocate for farmworker rights, and served as an unofficial adviser on Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation’s 2011 farm labor conference, TEDxFruitvale.
Schlosser was the keynote speaker for the Sustainability Month celebration at University of the Pacific, and his talk on sustainable and healthy eating was free and open to the public. During his daylong visit, Schlosser toured the state-of-the-art, organic Ted and Chris Robb Garden right on campus, which is funded by Regent Walter Robb of Whole Foods and maintained by students and staff. He also visited Boggs Tract Community Farm and Stockton Harvest, which are projects of Pacific’s community partner, Puentes. Puentes empowers low-income communities with sustainable technologies for food growing and other self sufficient, cooperative models. Bon Appétit supports the nonprofit by purchasing the farms’ product and sponsoring of the annual fundraising Seeds and Spirits event.
At the end of the busy day, Executive Chef Doug Stevens and his team were delighted to provide dinner for 50 in the Regent’s Room. Doug gave a food demonstration on the deck, showing how easily one could make the Robb Garden collard slaw at home. Guests included the Sustainability Committee, assorted faculty, President Pam Eibeck, Stockton Harvest founder Eric Fripo, and students who maintain the Robb Garden. District Manager Sia Mohsenzadegan and Doug were able to speak with Schlosser about Bon Appétit’s mission and vision, as well as its support of both the Robb Garden and the Puentes community projects.
The lively meal enabled guests to mingle and share ideas, a swell as directly consume fruits of their own collaborative labors.