by David Goldstein

The February edition of Bon Appetit magazine launches an opportunity to bring environmental messages to a new audience. In it, an essay from Associate Editor Christina Chaey explains how the magazine’s culture has transformed and how environmental awareness will be integrated into a wide range of future articles.

At a time when food waste reduction and composting have become a focus of local city and county governments’ efforts to meet the mandates of Senate Bill 1383 in California and similar legislation elsewhere, the February 2020 edition of Bon Appetit includes some well-written and cleverly presented environmental messages, all in the helpful tone of a food review and cooking tip periodical. This includes a review of a produce bag (vegibag.com) designed to keep produce fresher longer; a tip from a features editor describing how she does prep work on hardy greens to facilitate use before spoilage; lots of tips for plant-based meat substitutes; and several articles with tips for collecting and composting kitchen scraps, including a quote from the magazine’s features editor about how she uses gallon-size glass jars with screw-on lids for collecting compostable scraps from her kitchen.

Adam Rapoport, the magazine’s editor in chief, introduces the issue with an editor’s letter to the reader titled “It’s not easy being green — but we’re trying.” He explains how Gaby Melian, the magazine’s test kitchen manager, led the transformation, starting with things she “didn’t like” in the test kitchen, including “lots of single-use plastic containers, mountains of spent paper towels, questionable recycling efforts, and no composting whatsoever.” Melian “badgered” the managers of their multi-tenant building until they “installed an industrial-sized compost bin and established a more efficient and transparent recycling program.”

The artist known as Wyland has also served as a valuable messenger, advocating for conservation and reaching those who might not otherwise be engaged. Besides his art, which generally features inspiring images of marine life, he also employs a tool more likely to grab the attention of those less likely to display a giant image of a breaching whale in their living rooms. That tool is money, or at least valuable prizes.

The non-profit Wyland Foundation invests each year in an environmental education strategy focused on pledging and prizes. The foundation’s national contest pits similar-sized cities against one another to see which can gather the most conservation pledges from residents during the month of April. The top city in various population categories wins a prize and also qualifies its residents for prizes. The city of Ventura won four years ago, resulting in Ventura residents winning LED light bulbs, low-flow shower heads and one $1,000 Lowes gift card. The city itself won free plants and landscaping services, which replaced grass and shrubs with water-thrifty options on city-owned land.

Your city could win next year if you prepare now to run an influential campaign this April, during the period the Wyland Foundation will count pledges for water conservation.

On the net: www.mywaterpledge.com

David Goldstein is an Environmental Resource Analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency.