Cooking Up Sustainable Food Habits at INSEAD

Published by Published by Sheila Loxham, Ivy Tan, Lisa Toulis, Ebru Carter for the Hoffmann Institute. on 13 Dec 2020

In line with the recent Community Impact Challenge to push sustainable food habits, we look at how the school and its catering partner, Sodexo, have been encouraging these habits on campus.

Did you know that if just one-fourth of the food we waste globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world? Combatting this massive problem and striving to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, is no easy feat. But it can become easier if we harness the collective power of a community – which is what INSEAD’s Community Impact Challenge (CIC) is all about.

With the vision to help the community to become carbon net zero by 2030, CIC kicked off in January 2020 with support from the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society. With 2,340 participants in 90 countries, the CIC raised awareness about the usage of single-use plastics. The initiative returned in October 2020 with the Sustainable Food Habits Challenge! With more than 5,000 community members from over 100 countries, CIC hopes to raise awareness about the origins, seasonality and transport of our food, decrease food waste by being sensitive to the quantities we buy or ultimately throw away, and make healthier and more sustainable food choices by choosing plant-based diets.

While the CIC is one way for the school to encourage sustainable food habits, it is also tweaking operations on its campuses to walk-the-talk by working closely with our catering partner of 10 years, Sodexo, to minimise waste and maximise recycling. Given the magnitude of the INSEAD community on our campuses, we serve an average of almost 300, 000 meals every year! During the peak periods of May to June, and September to October, INSEAD serves 1,200 meals on a single day at the Fontainebleau cafeteria alone.

The Fontainebleau campus restaurant targeted to use 10% organic food for 2020, and is looking to steadily increase this each year ahead of the French law requiring all collective catering organisations to use at least 20% organic food by January 2022.

In addition, Sodexo favours seasonal fruits and vegetables and local produce whenever possible, with all the bread being baked in Fontainebleau, and salads grown 5 kilometres away in Chailly-en-Bière. In the same vein, a large amount of the campus fresh fruit, vegetable and dairy products come from producers close by in the surrounding Ile de France, Yonne, and Loiret regions. In order to deal with wastage, Sodexo adopts composting, and their WasteWatch campaign aims to halve food waste on our campus by 2025. With the introduction of the ‘Virtuous Vegetarian Vendredi’ (Friday in French) initiative in January 2021, INSEAD’s Fontainebleau menu will be plant-based on the last Friday of every month.

For Singapore, Trim Waste is used to produce various types of stock for soups, fruit-infused water, and baking over-ripe bananas into cakes. Whatever wastage is then left over makes its way into the Eco-Wiz machine, which decomposes all food wastage into grey water. This is eventually used for plant irrigation, with coffee grounds being repurposed as fertilizers.

Also supporting local produce as much as possible, Singapore’s HUB restaurant has also been offering an entirely plant-based menu, and is already looking forward to having more ‘Green Days’ from one to four times a month. By bringing together their international chef talent, they have managed to curate 250 creative and tasty vegetarian and vegan plant-based dishes. They have also partnered with the Humane Society for the ‘Better Tomorrow Plan,’ to promote plant-based choices, and reduce the presence of red meat, poultry and eggs on our menus. Going one-step further, the Humane Society will provide plant-based cooking classes to the INSEAD Sodexo chefs.

Research by INSEAD Professor Pierre Chandon tells us that our own gentle tweaking, and being softly nudged by others are effective ways to change our habits. INSEAD hopes that by making these initial changes in our restaurants, the community will shift to more sustainable eating habits – whether it means finishing the food on our plate, being conscious about what we buy, or by joining the Sustainable Food Habits Challenge.

To find out more about CIC, and celebrate its community impact in adopting sustainable food habits, join the virtual celebration on 19 January. Sign up here!

Category:  Walk the Talk

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