Duke Food – Sustainable Eating Behaviors

2011, Emily Mass Rachael Brady David J. Zielinski Paul Gratham, Sarah McGowan, Charlotte Clark, Melanie Green, Jocelyn Wells, Brandon Pierce

Duke Food is meant to test sustainable eating habits. The environment is modeled after the Great Hall on Duke’s West Campus. The virtual eatery allows the user to browse through the dining hall stations–putting food on and off their tray as they interact with the environment. Every food item has a visual and audio stimulus paired with it and can be selected and “de-selected” once the stimulus occurs. The stimuli are separated into two categories: good and bad.  The stimuli are chosen for each food based off of the number of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) points the food item was awarded by the Bon Appetit* Carbon Calculator (http://www.eatlowcarbon.org/). CO2e is a standardized measure of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the growing, processing, production, and transportation of a given food item. A CO2e point is equivalent to one gram (0.035oz) of CO2e emissions of greenhouse gases. Positive stimuli are awarded to foods with point values less than 500 and negative are awarded to foods with greater than 500 CO2e points. Ideally, the shock of a negative image/sound, provides enough stimulus to make a user take a “bad” food item off their tray. Besides the stimuli, the CO2e monitoring meter attached to the user’s food tray, keeps track of the total about of points the user has accumulated with their current meal. Once the user is content with the meal chosen, they have the option of walking up to the cash register to “check out.” Based off of the CO2e monitoring meter, the user is sent to one of two final destinations: the smelly dump (Total CO2e points >1500) or the peaceful forest (Total CO2e points <1500). The environment ends with a brief factual message about sustainable eating. Duke Food serves to enhance people’s understanding of their own environmental impact based purely on simple food decisions they make everyday.

*Bon Appetit caters the Great Hall and thus has the most accurate data for carbon footprints of the meals served there