Jonas Doerr – Opinion Columnist
Something hungry prowls the Caf, looking for leftover morsels. It lurks in corners, waiting to pounce on those with leftovers. The tiniest tater tot or smallest spinach leaf cannot escape its careful eye.
Most students are not even aware of this lurker. Its behaviors are entirely inconceivable to most members of the Gustavus community. What on earth would lead someone to take food off the dishline? Most students have leftover money on their Caf account at the end of the semester, anyways.
Still, there is someone or something on campus doing it. Who or what could possibly be doing these things? It is the Caf Raccoon. The Caf Raccoon scrounges around the area and gobbles up any appetizing leftovers. Nothing is safe, especially if it is still wrapped.
But the Caf Raccoon is no raccoon. It is one of us, a real Gustavus student. This student has committed themself particularly to the art of human composting. Why wait for food to go through the laborious process of composting in our machines when a digestive system works so much faster? Wrapped food in a compost bin might easily be snatched away by the Caf Raccoon to be eaten, saving the weeks it would normally take to compost it.
The Caf Raccoon finds many leftovers to be treats. They say, “The most appealing food is untouched food, obviously, although you cannot be completely sure. But food without fork-marks, food that is not made into a soup on your plate. Untouched fruit that has not been contaminated by pasta sauce on your plate, for instance. And the expensive food: salmon is always a ‘good catch.’”
The Caf Raccoon uses extremely stealthy arts to avoid being detected. Since most people would disapprove of such wanton pilfering, it is necessary for people not to notice as the leftovers are snagged. The Caf Raccoon says, “Before you go in for the snatch, you gotta know who is around you, and where unexpected people might come. Sometimes, you gotta take a few passes by the compost bins before the coast is clear. Then, you just gotta sell it. Nobody questions a person who looks like they know what they are doing.”
It is probably confusing to many why the Caf Raccoon would resort to such behavior. Why not just eat fresh food? However, this is not the only inexplicable behavior. It is nearly as confusing to think about why so much food is being thrown out in the first place. Yes, it is usually composted, which is amazing.
However, many resources are used to create the food in the first place. Vegetables and fruit take plenty of water to grow, and they also require gas to transport them to the Caf. Meat products require even more water. Just because the leftovers are composted does not mean there was no waste.
This makes it important to consider how much food one takes when going to the Caf. It can be easy to fill up one’s plate when there are so many good options, but it might be harder to finish all that food. When that food sits on one’s plate as it spins around the dish carousel, someone eventually grabs that plate and dumps the food into a compost receptacle. That extra food was wasted.
The servers will also give people smaller portions if they ask. It can be really hard to muster up the courage to talk to someone you do not know, but this is a good time to try it. Plus, this skill comes in handy if you want a bigger portion, too.
Food waste is also a problem in the Caf, however. Unsold food cannot usually be used the next day, of course, so something has to be done with it. Oftentimes, that means the food is tossed to be composted. The Caf Raccoon does not even get a chance to snag any of it.
One way to solve this problem would be to eat so much food that there would be none left at the end of the day. However, some less-hungry students and those with tight Caf budgets might object to this strategy. Besides, it is likely that the workers would make more food to keep up with demand, so there would still be extras.
Perhaps a better strategy would be to offer the leftovers to people who would eat them. Why let food go to waste? Many hungry athletes would wholeheartedly support this plan. It might lower the rates of theft from the Caf. And most of all, it would lower our food waste levels.
The biggest issues with this solution would be logistics. Who would distribute the food, especially if it was after Caf hours? Would anyone come that late at night? The obstacles seem to be surmountable, however. It would be possible to make it happen.
The Caf Raccoon is a big advocate for avoiding food waste, especially by scavenging food. They say, “Food waste is ridiculous and there is more than enough food to go around. This is a cheap, efficient way to save money and save the planet in the process. And the variety of food you get to eat is just absolutely amazing!! What’s life without a little risk!?”
The Caf Raccoon can teach us all some lessons about how we eat our food. Perhaps we would rather not eat off the dishline, but we can take other steps to throw out less food. Don’t waste this opportunity.