Adventures in Sustainable Eating

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By Alicia Newton

In today’s society, people refuse to purchase produce due to a small bruise, scratch or deformity. Little do they know that the slightly imperfect food is just as delicious, if not better, than the pristine-looking food. Students concerned about the relationship between food sources and consumers have enrolled in From The Ground UP, a high school leadership program offered by Nourish My Soul a local nonprofit. 


Examples of sushi and pumpkin miso soup prepared by Bun Lai for From the Ground UP, a high school leadership program.

As participants, they spend hours learning about and analyzing our local food system, and developing new ideas and projects to address the shortcomings. They were shocked to learn about food waste. As a result, they wanted to enlighten others about how much delicious, fresh food goes to waste as a result of what society has taught people is acceptable to purchase. Bun Lai, a critically acclaimed chef for the restaurant Miya’s Sushi, understands this issue. Last month all seven members of From The Ground UP as well as a Nourish My Soul junior chef visited Miya’s in New Haven to learned more about Bun and his views on operating the first sustainable sushi restaurant in the world.
Miya’s restaurant had a very tranquil atmosphere. When they arrived, they were greeted by Bun himself, and his welcoming staff. After being seated, they had the honor of speaking with Bun about his views on food waste. He shared many interesting experiences he has encountered with cooking using ingredients from all around the world. Bun had very interesting and valid points to bring to the table. He agrees that food waste is prevalent in our society today. All of the food he creates for his restaurant is made with food waste in mind. Bun Lai also focuses on where the ingredients in his food come from—how it is grown or raised. 
He tries to keep his menu mostly plant-based for several reasons including sustainability. Bun made them stop and think about the impact of all of their food choices, not just on their health but also on the planet as a whole. They came to realize that food choices are a kind of political action that can have far-reaching consequences that can be positive or negative. Bun created an amazing tasting menu of sushi of all different varieties, along with a pumpkin miso soup. One participant even got to celebrate her birthday with a specially made birthday sushi topped with ice cream. The group was grateful for the warm welcome from Bun and all the staff at Miya’s Sushi, the sharing of knowledge, and delicious food.