The death of compromise?

"Greening" initiative in the cafeteria has apparently failed.

I read an interesting OpEd piece in the Los Angeles Times last week, about the return to “normalcy” in the Longworth Building cafeteria at the U.S. House of Representatives. The writer was celebrating the fact that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s greening initiative in the cafeteria apparently has failed.

Yes, the compostable tableware has been 86’ed, as well as the “sea of didactic signage” about the cafeteria’s environmental efforts, according to the columnist. In addition, many of the highfalutin’ menu items added by the “know-it-all liberal elite” have been replaced by more recognizable fare, such as fried chicken and mac and cheese, preferred by the “centrist-to-right” public.

Now, I am not a fan of Nancy Pelosi, and I suppose that if I had to pigeonhole myself politically I would be part of the centrist-to-right grouping. (I like to think of myself as a “depends on the issue” person.) But I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness reading this column. I was disappointed that a well-meaning attempt to bring more socially responsible practices to a foodservice operation had failed.

But I think I was more depressed by the undisguised glee in the writer’s words as she trashed Pelosi’s efforts. She was dancing on the program’s grave like the people of Oz at the death of the Wicked Witch of the West (to whom, of course, conservatives have compared Pelosi).

Is it just me, or is this country becoming so mired in the black-and-white that we have no room for compromise? Have we abandoned the practice of critical examination, whereby issues are broken down and solutions uncovered that would at least somewhat satisfy all parties involved?

Perhaps the compostable tableware used in the Longworth cafeteria needs to be refined to make it more ecologically sound as well as practicable. Does that mean that the concept of compostable tableware is bad? I don’t think so, but the L.A. Times columnist certainly does. Maybe “cuisine”—yes, the writer even talked of cuisine as if it were a poison—such as turkey escabeche and the panzanilla station are more highbrow than low-to-middle-income staffers in the federal government are accustomed to. Does that mean that expanding employees’ culinary horizons is in itself a bad thing? Apparently so, according to the Times writer.

When the whole “greening” effort began several years ago, I thought we had touched on a topic most people could agree needed to be addressed. Sure, there would be some trial and error, and our reach would almost certainly exceed our grasp. But eventually we could come up with a solution to our environmental challenges. But if we can’t even reach a compromise on aiding the environment—indeed, if we can’t even come to some agreement on whether there is even a problem—how can we ever solve our country’s, and planet’s, other challenges?

Keywords: 
sustainability

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
fsd screenshot web

A full year has passed since we redesigned FoodService Director magazine, taking the publication from its longtime tabloid dimensions to a more convenient size and more creative design, and recasting the content to provide actionable, peer-to-peer insights and ideas for FSDs.

Now we are thrilled to announce that we’ve extended the makeover to our website as well. The new FoodServiceDirector.com has been redesigned to be more engaging and even easier to use. We’ve made it faster to find information, from recipes to HR best practices, that will help you run your facility better....

Managing Your Business
wage feud business

As plans to increase the minimum wage surge ahead in states such as New York and California, operators eventually will feel the reverberations shake up labor costs for more than just hourly workers. As associate wages gain on manager salaries, operators will have to answer a call for reciprocal increases. FSD spoke with operators who advised going gently into the brave new world of heightened labor costs, investing in talent and making cuts elsewhere; however, they did offer three perfectly proactive tactics to make the process as seamless as possible.

1. Keep talking

Even though...

Menu Development
craft beer flight
A draw for happy hour...

Phan plans to serve beer and wine, and depending on liquor licensing, perhaps cocktails as well. “For faculty and staff on campus, it will be a really wonderful place to come to and have a glass of wine,” Wolch says. “Right now, we have The Faculty Club bar, which is a very historic spot, but this is going to be much more contemporary.”

And for morning coffee...

Phan’s plan for made-to-order coffee is bound to be a boon for both faculty and students. “We’ll have a brand-new espresso machine,” Phan says. Wolch adds, “Most of us in the Bay Area are, if not...

Managing Your Business
wurster west may 2016

At a nearly 150-year-old university, every stone column and classroom has treasured stories to tell. But with that history come the logistical challenges of operating in outdated spaces—especially for foodservice. Such is the case at University of California at Berkeley, where longtime cafe Ramona’s in Wurster Hall closed in March to make way for an updated, as-yet unnamed concept.

With little more than a steam table and coolers, Ramona’s was limited by its lack of ventilation. And, as a former classroom space, it never was intended to function for foodservice, says Jennifer Wolch...

FSD Resources