Part 3: Veggie-Oil Adventures in Ohio

This is the third post in a series about Piper’s Epic Spring Semester Road Trip:  Read #1, Setting Out on a Biofueled Road Trip through BAMCO Territory; #2 Veggie Oil-Fueled Adventures in Coloradoor about my traveling companion – my vegetable oil car Charlene.

Kevin and I, standing by Oberlin’s Real Food Campus Committment for 40%

Piper’s Epic Road Trip stats as of 3/14:

Gallons of veggie oil used: 65

Gallons of diesel used: 19

Miles driven: 4,027

Number of student group meetings/presentations: 11

Number of classes guest lectured in: 8

Number of American Meat Screenings participated in: 6

Number of farm visits: 2

Number of states driven through: 10

My time in Ohio was busy and very successful, especially considering the fact that it was right near spring break time for most of the schools there.  I got to guest lecture in 4 different classes, my favorite being the Environmental Economics class at Case Western because, on top of being a large class of interested and engaged students, here were 2 students in the class that I had worked with on the Fair Trade Expo I organized as a student at Case!

I was a part of 4 American Meat Screenings in Ohio (BAMCO is sponsoring the 10-state screening tour of this evenhanded documentary about the meat system; read more here) – it should have been 5, but all the traveling caught up with me and I was sick for a couple days.  I had the pleasure of moderating an especially fun and lively discussion at Oberlin College, but being on the panel at Case was the most fun of all.  Not only did I get to catch up with the amazing Aaron and Melissa Miller of Miller Livestock, but the screening was held in the large auditorium in which I had many an engineering course, so it was fun to be up on stage myself, talking about issues I’m passionate about.

The highlight of my time at Oberlin was definitely Wednesday 3/13, when Kevin Dee (student leading the RFC campaign on campus through Slow Food Oberlin) and I organized a full afternoon and evening of events.  To kick it off was a public signing of the Real Food Campus Commitment at 40%, making Oberlin the 12th school to sign onto the commitment, and only the second school to reach 40% (the first was UC Santa Cruz)!  So after we celebrated that milestone on the steps of Wilder, Kevin and I gave a joint info session explaining what the Real Food Calculator/Campus Commitment is and means for Oberlin, as well as some of the BAMCO initiatives that allowed for such a high real food percentage to be attained.  Then after dinner, I gave a workshop titled “Animal Rights: Not Just A Welfare Issue” where we discussed the overlap between animal rights and social justice as well as environmental sustainability initiatives.  This workshop was so much fun, as the students were educated enough on food issues that we could really delve into the intricacies of the issues and their interconnectedness.

The President, students, and BAMCO staff celebrating the 40% committment.

On my way out of town I stopped at Hiram College to see Joel Salatin present; after all the American Meat screenings, it was fun to see the self proclaimed lunatic farmer in person, and I serendipitously got to hang out with the Millers one last time before taking off.  After Ohio I headed down the east coast, staying in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana, working from the homes of friends and family and enjoying some much needed catch-up time as college students were occupied with midterms and spring break.  I got to visit the new Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta

I didn’t get to do everything I had planned in Ohio; I was there the week of and before spring break for Case, so I’ll be coming back there to do some events around Low Carbon Diet Day April 22nd.  And with the racial incidents happening on Oberlin’s campus, we decided to reschedule the visit to Green City Growers, but stay tuned for my return visit to Ohio later this month!

A big thank you Gina Fusco and the rest of the BAMCO team at Dascomb Dining Hall at Oberlin College for saving me vegetable oil.  They saved me so much, I was able to pack my car with 45 gallons (it took a bit of rearranging) so I had more than enough to get me to my next pickup spot, Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, GA.

And thank you to Denise Gilbert and Executive Chef J.O. (who I got to meet on only his 4th day of work!) at SCAD for showing me around the lovely facility and saving me oil.

This week I’m at St. Edwards in Austin, and am looking forward to touring Vital Farms, guest lecturing in an environmental ethics class, helping the Students for Sustainability plan for Earth Week, and hosting a discussion on Animal Welfare.