In light of the food crisis at UTM, with students complaining about high prices and poor food options, recent Commerce graduate Steve Jamazon teamed with UTM’s management, the Recycling Task Team, the Repository of Garbage Management, and UTMSU to launch Garbage to Food (GTF).
The venture, sponsored by renowned environmentalist David Sukuzi, operates on a simple principle: take uneaten or half-eaten food, reprocess it, and combine it into palatable, nutritious, filling meals.
The project sparked to life in the little-known country of Laos sometime in 1999, prompting the withdrawal of food provider Chatwells from the country and ultimately improving both the economic and population issues previously rampant across the South-east Asian nation.
Thanks to GTF, Laotian natives see no need to pay Chatwells for overpriced food anymore, recounts a starry- eyed Jamazon. At the beginning people were a little repulsed by the smell of the recycled food, but we’ve worked pretty hard at eliminating this problem. We trust UTM students will have no complaints.
In a research project that took him across the Himalayan Mountains to the NDP headquarters in Beijing, GTFs co-founder Dr. James Boolshfit encountered many possible answers to the worldwide issue of famine.
The idea came to me when I noticed all the food that students dump in the bin when they clear their plates. I was a bit taken aback, because it is precious food after all, and then it got me thinking, how could we reuse this food?” explains Dr. Boolshfit, who is also the head chemical engineer of the GTF project.
A month later, Dr. Boolshfit ran into Jamazon while on a camel-riding expedition in Sanaa, Yemen. The two brainstormed over the idea of turning garbage into food, and came up with several viable scenarios and ideas.
We presented our ideas to David [Sukuzi], who was my roommate at Dartmouth, and he basically ironed out the concept with concrete proposals of how to go about launching the programme, recounts Dr. Boolshfit, who also added that Sukuzi provided both him and Jamazon with enough petty cash to set the wheels in motion. After the success in Laos, we knew the next best place [to implement GTF] was at a university with a reputation for over-priced and lacklustre food options, explained Jamazon.
Late last year, Boolshfit and Jamazon began negotiating with University administration and the UTM Student Union over the launch of the project. The two of them spent months scheming inside Mikes hotdog stand after Mike had left for home every evening.
Getting UTM management to pass the project was a bit difficult, reminisces Jamazon with a hint of a smile. But once they tried GTF beer, they were converts.
The GTF venture has not gone without naysayers. Sceptics point to rumours of food poisoning, and the website, GTFstinks.org displays some gruesome pictures of Laotian natives who reportedly released worms from their nostrils after eating GTF products. However, the two founders have since refuted each and every negative claim.
The so-called reports are nothing but nonsense, maintains Dr. Boolshfit. GTF products are perfectly safe. I even feed them to my wife.
As far as UTM is concerned, the sceptics have so far lost the battle. When the first GTF samples were handed out on campus, students devoured them before asking for more. “It tastes better than anything I’ve eaten on campus,” said Raji Aujla, a fourth-year political science student, as she wolfed two pounds of GTF macaroni.
I cant believe all the money Im going to save this way, commented Marc Cerulli, a fifth-year Biology major, as he slurped up a cup of GTF noodle soup.
Given the overwhelming success on campus, the GTF project will open a permanent locale next Monday in the North Building where UTMSU volunteers will hand out GTF samples.
Getting UTMSU behind our project was a big thing, says Jamazon. It took some time, but when we explained we would help them campaign with their elections, they decided to go along.