Vegan restauranteurs, EPA, and dairy farmers visit SEE Team

Kelly Kramer, Facebook Coordinator

SEE team is known to have fun field trips and environmental-based classes, but on Monday February 28, local people that are involved in environmental careers came to give SEE team a presentation on what they do.

The presenters had jobs from Brookfield Zoo workers to biology professors to dairy farmers and even RB’s assistant principal Tim Scanlon. But the biggest hit of the group were Danny and Kathy Living of Borrowed Earth Café in Downers Grove.

“Danny and Kathy were my favorite ones there. They were really cool and nice,” said freshman SEE team student Kate Alaks.

“The restaurant people were really awesome. They were so interesting,” said fellow SEE team student Justin Griggs.

Danny and Kathy’s restaurant is an all vegan café called Borrowed Earth Café. Vegans not only don’t eat meat, but there are no animal products such as dairy or eggs in the food either.

“We chose to open a vegan restaurant because we wanted to share the kind of food we eat with as many people as possible,” they said.

The owners have been vegan for six years and the restaurant has been open for three.

“Organic, vegan food has the smallest carbon footprint of any kind of restaurant. In addition, we compost all our food scraps during the growing season, we use corn and sugar cane take out packages, and bio-degradable take out bags,” they said.

Danny and Kathy do not have plans to expand their restaurant at this time. “We love our restaurant the way it is. Our customers consider us and our energy to be just as key an ingredient in the experience as the spices, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits that go into the recipes. The two tenets of our mission statement are feed and educate. While there’s something so truly American about expand and make a nationwide chain, trucks with your name on it, boxes in your grocery store, etc., there’s also something beautiful about something precious that’s appreciated in the size that it is without a desire to make it bigger,” they said.

The experience as a whole was great for everyone involved.

“I think the students really enjoyed being exposed to real people who practice the environmental topics they study in class. The panel discussion provided an opportunity for the students to ask questions to panelists and the students were engaged in a very natural back-and-forth conversation.  As a teacher, i was very excited to see my students take part in such a serious, adult-like activity,” said SEE team teacher Jennifer Waldock.

“We may play around with the format and allow for a informal mingling section, but we definitely want to do the panel again in some form,” Waldock said.