By Emma Vail
Yesterday, the 4th B class of the high school IES A I traveled to the nearby culinary vocational school, CIFP Carlos , to learn about their recycling efforts. As we stepped off the bus, we were met with an odious stench that nearly knocked us back onto the bus. That stench, we later learned, was the compost made of the remains of the food the school produced, to be used in the future as soil in their vegetable garden. Those vegetables will be used in future dishes, which will in turn become compost. And the cycle continues.
The directorial staff greeted us as we entered the building, and they led us to a cafeteria room where we put on plastic gowns and shoe slips to cover our clothes, as well as hairnets. Everyone looked ridiculous, and the students were giggling and taking pictures with each other – probably for Instagram. Our guide, Ricardo Fernandez, explained the school’s mission and told us about the recent recycling initiative they had undertaken. Their efforts centered on an evaluation of different parts of the school and how well students and staff were following the pre-established recycling protocol. The consensus: there was ample room for improvement. We left the cafeteria and went on a guided tour of the school’s cooking classrooms and restaurant.
Ricardo, a teacher at the school, wore a chef’s white jacket with his name embroidered on the lapel. He spoke in Galician, but I was able to catch most of it. Ricardo explained the recycling protocol everyone was supposed to follow, and lamented that they didn’t. In practically every classroom we entered there was a breach of protocol, though minor. The system was well laid out, the only problems seemed to be noncompliance and misunderstanding. One thing that did seem to be well established, however, was the compost system. We visited the site and learned about how the process works while standing alongside the steaming piles of refuse, which was comical for a few moments, then just turned gross. The poor man who works the compost must have a hard time making friends.
One of the rooms Ricardo showed to us was a trash room, through which trash and recycled material come down through chutes and are transported out by trucks. The chutes’ openings were located a floor above the trash room in a small room off a kitchen. However, this innovative and efficient system was not used, he explained, because the school’s bureaucracy had to process the change before switching to this system.
At the close of our visit, the school’s students generously provided us with an array of snacks and smoothies they had made in their kitchens, which we had just toured. , croquettes, empanadillas, and Serrano ham are a few examples of the delicious spread we enjoyed. It was a treat to see how a Galician culinary school worked, learn about their recycling efforts, and taste their food at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and give a hearty thanks to the students and staff of CIFP Carlos !