Eating Local—Right Here on Campus!

Posted: December 17, 2012

Learn about some local and organic food options right here in the dining halls!
Urban Garden in Redifer, South Food District, is a yummy create-your-own salad option that utilizes locally grown produce!

Urban Garden in Redifer, South Food District, is a yummy create-your-own salad option that utilizes locally grown produce!

As College of Ag Sciences students, we appreciate the impact of “eating local.” Local food is fresher, tastier, and healthier, as it often requires fewer preserving methods. Local foods also provide seasonal availability, straight from the farm to your table. Food grown nearby also has the benefits of being environmentally friendly, requiring less travel, which burns less fossil fuels. Considering the thousands of miles that some foods fly, that leaves one large environmental carbon footprint! Purchasing locally grown foods also ensures the preservation of open space and farms, by supporting the local farmers that keep the land in cultivation. (Eating local in your area can ensure that your backyard view remains open and green!) As well as supporting open space, eating locally also supports the economy of your town.

Eating local can be difficult, however, when living in the dormitory buildings and eating in the dining halls. As a vegetarian, I especially seek out local and healthy produce to make sure I am eating as healthy as possible without being able to cook for myself. Luckily, I’ve discovered some sustainable secrets in the Penn State dining halls that I’d like to share!

  • Redifer Commons, South Food District, is proud to boast local vegetables at Urban Garden, the create-your-own salad option! When the dining staff place their produce orders, they ask the supplying vendors for four local produce items. Even a small increase in consuming locally grown food can make a big difference!

  • The Sisu store, located in West Halls, is another example of healthy organic foods available to students.  Last year, the store served all organic or natural foods, however this year, some non-organic brand-name items were added as well, due to the increase in price associated with organic foods. It is nice to know that organic options are available! At Sisu you can find numerous organic choices, including: fruit cups, produce, cereals, frozen meals, sides, snack foods, and health and beauty products.

  • An up-and-coming sustainable and local produce venture in the works is the “Farm to College” program! This idea is designed to work with local vendors to grow produce directly for the University dining halls. A connection has already been established between Penn State and Ardry Farms, located in Howard, Pa., to provide the University with Yukon Gold potatoes and cabbage.

I hope this quick insight into local food options on campus has sparked your interest in eating local!