Dr. Tammara Soma: Plate to Planet ㅡ Environmental Impact of Food Waste | On the House #49

In this episode, host Gabriella Jourstra is joined by Dr. Tammara Soma, an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management

Have you ever considered how you can help the planet just by cooking? Dr. Tammara Soma shared some excellent ideas about making your cooking food system more eco-friendly in this podcast. But that’s not all she talked about—she also gave some intelligent tips on cutting down on food waste and getting creative in the kitchen. So, stick around!

Meet Dr. Tammara Soma

Dr. Tammara Soma is an expert in planning. She graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 2018. She’s now an Assistant Professor at Simon Fraser University, focusing on how we can better plan our food systems. Her research dives into waste management and the circular economy, aiming to make our food systems more sustainable. Before joining SFU, Dr. Tammara worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto and as the Food Equity Coordinator at New College, University of Toronto.

Her doctoral research, which earned her multiple awards and recognition, explored how people in Indonesian cities use and waste food. By understanding these habits, she aims to help urban planners make better decisions. Dr. Tammara has shared her findings in academic journals and the media, including the BBC and the Toronto Star. She’s also co-edited a handbook on food waste, showing her commitment to sharing knowledge beyond academic circles.

Dr. Tammara’s passion for reducing food waste extends beyond research. She’s involved in projects funded by organizations like SSHRC and the Weston Foundation, working with teams across North America to engage young people in fighting food waste. Her expertise has even taken her to the US National Academies of Science, where she’s contributed to strategies for reducing food waste at the consumer level. Dr. Tammara’s work reflects her dedication to making a difference in how we think about and manage our food.

About the episode

In this episode, Dr. Tammara shared some tips to help you make our food system more sustainable. She starts by talking about permaculture, a friendly way to grow food that’s good for the planet. Instead of just organic farming, permaculture also looks at building things naturally and being self-sufficient.

She said you can help cut down on food waste by cooking in a way that uses up everything, even the parts you’d normally throw away. For example, in Indonesia, where folks often buy food daily, they use leftovers well. Dr. Tammara thinks we can learn from that. She also talked about animals helping out by eating food scraps that we can’t. But, she said, it’s hard for some people to do this because of how cities are planned and how our food system works.

One excellent idea she shared was about community food hubs. These are places where people come together to grow and share food locally. It’s like a way to bring food production and eating closer together. Dr. Tammara also discussed the idea of everyone in a community taking care of food resources together, like in a book called “Routledge Handbook of Food as a Commons.”

She said cooking in a way that uses up everything is not just good for the planet but also tasty and saves money. She gave examples from Mexican cooking, using leftovers to make new dishes. There are ways to cook that use less energy, which is good for the environment, too. She encouraged you to get creative in the kitchen and try new things.

Lastly, Dr. Tammara talked about how you can help at home. She shares you can start by not throwing away parts of vegetables that are still good to eat. Instead of peeling them, wash and chop them up. She also suggested cooking in big batches and freezing leftovers for later. Moreover, she thinks everyone should know how to cook and wishes more schools to teach cooking skills. That way, you would only sometimes rely on takeout or microwave meals.

In conclusion

Cooking without waste can benefit the planet and your wallet. Even the smallest changes can make a big difference, such as using the entire vegetable or considering the source of your meat. So, find out how you can cook smarter through this episode and enjoy your meals while helping the world around you.

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