By EMILY STANLEY
Renowned cookbook author Mollie Katzen, this year’s second Year of Sustainable Communities speaker, will bring a new approach to food education to campus this Tuesday.
Katzen, author of titles such as the “Moosewood Cookbook” and “The Enchanted Broccoli Forest”, will give two separate presentations on sustainable cooking methods. With a focus on eating healthy and local – her first presentation is titled “What Does Eating Mostly Plants look Like? Hint: Not What You Think” – Katzen will provide a dinner table twist to the Year of Sustainable Communities.
Professor Ishita Sinha Roy, member of the Public Events Committee, which is responsible for planning the Year of Sustainable Communites events, believes Katzen’s event will show students that it’s possible to eat healthy, no matter where their food comes from.
“Mollie’s particular appeal is that she talks to younger people about how you can live in a dorm, have a meal plan, and still make good choices,” Sinha Roy said. “Two big obstacles of any social change action are the ease with which you can make these changes and access to the resources. This event shows that when it comes to making choices about smart eating, it can be easier than you think.”
Director of Conference and Event Services Timothy Cooper also felt that Katzen’s experiences with her own children would provide a unique perspective for students.
“She has kids who are college age right now, and so she should provide some interesting inside information from a personal and professional perspective,” Cooper said.
Although Katzen’s books sometimes maintain a focus on vegetarianism, Sinha Roy noted that Katzen’s talks will be more broad.
“[The event is] more the idea of promotion of local foods and healthy lifestyles,” Sinha Roy said.
In addition to guiding students toward healthier eating habits, Katzen’s message will also be accessible to the Meadville community, said Cooper. One of her lectures, titled “The Great Food Flip: Toward a New Center of the Plate,” is open to the Meadville community and will target a broader audience.
“This is a rural community; we have a lot of farmers around here,” Cooper said. “From an economic standpoint, keeping our dollars local is beneficial, and there’s an overriding benefit to having fresh produce get to the table quicker. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle.”
In recognition of the upcoming visit, Parkhurst organized various Katzen-inspired events this week such as “Mollie Monday.” On Monday and Tuesday, the dining halls featured granola bars, rice and pasta dishes and other items from Katzen’s recipe collection.
“The idea is a takeoff of Mid-Week Madness, just for the week leading up to her event,” said Cooper. “It’s also to get people, students in particular, interested in eating healthy and knowing that there’s not a compromise.”
Noreen Chatta, ‘15, is eager to learn about the lifestyle changes that could come from Katzen’s insight.
“This [event] being about food directly relates to me and what I consume and my direct quality of life,” Chatta said. “An event like this can teach students to understand what it means to give themselves a higher quality of life and to take better care of themselves, since they’re the only ones who can.”
Scott Schoffle, technical director of programming on campus, who helps faculty coordinate for the annual theme contract and execute the programming, said that Katzen’s event fits of the mold of the rest of the Year of Sustainable Abilities programming.
“The interesting thing about this year is that it all kind of fits together,” Schoffle said. “With Colin Beavan relating some things about the environment and the real world, and Mollie coming in and discussing healthy lifestyles, to Bill McKibbin with 350.org having an interesting environmental standpoint…[their viewpoints are] what we’re really trying to represent this year.”