Students discuss food and environment during ‘green’ event


Aaron Dickens

Students taught attendees at the You Are What You Eat event about how humans interacted with food and nature.

A different taste of culture and food hit the taste buds of multiple students at the You Are What You Eat event on Dec. 5 in the Memorial Student Center. Students from the anthropology department provided information about ways humans have interacted with their environment throughout history.

“The purpose of this is to showcase how, as a species, we interact with our environment,” anthropology professor Brian Hoey said. “Specifically, how we produce and procure food, which has changed overtime.”

Hoey had his anthropology students gather information about ways people from different geological locations preserve and procure food, unlike some other areas where it goes to waste.

“It’s a green event,” he said. “We want students to think about how people do things differently in ways they save and preserve food by tasting and learning.”

Rather than writing a typical final paper and having a final exam, Hoey said he had his students organize the You Are What You Eat event for a more effective way of learning.

“For many classes, you do a project or a paper, you turn it in and you’re done,” Hoey said. “I told them to scrap everything they were going to do. I then told them to refocus on something that we could be doing for others. We invite them in, they learn some things, eat some food. I wanted to get my students away from the class while having learned something and done something as well.”

The Marshall University Sustainability Department partnered with Hoey and his students for the event by providing cups, plates and other objects that can be composted.

“It’s necessary for a healthy community and a healthy society to be circular,” Amy Parsons-White, sustainability manager, said. “It is more than just consumption; we want to reach out and become a bigger part in the Huntington community by showing them what we can do with food and agriculture to become a close-knit, self-sustaining society.”

Despite the litter, waste and other problems people may face with in the United States, students have reacted positively, Parsons-White said. Parsons-White also spoke of the amount of effort the Sustainability Department puts into Marshall.

“I’m glad to get the word out. Many students don’t know what we do,” Parsons-White said. “We have 12 programs we run, such as the first commercial compost facility in the state, nature-based recovery and food recovery. We want students to realize what good things happen when you put time and effort into helping the environment.”

Aaron Dickens can be contacted at [email protected].