Food Systems

comments or suggestionsDraft

The Goal: To eat foods produced sustainably.

Farmer The Problem: Most of our food travels thousands of miles from farm to plate: lettuce from California, soybeans from Brazil, tomatoes from Mexico. While we provide students, faculty and staff with an abundance of choice year round, it is based on agricultural and transportation systems that are not sustainable.

  • "Present industrialized farming practices are energy intensive. Even without the threat of climate change, high energy prices are bleeding money from farmers and farm communities. Dependence on imported oil makes farming communities (and all of America) vulnerable."1
  • Our food system's reliance on fossil fuels contributes to global warming, while the excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides contaminates aquifers, wells, and waterways.
  • Pesticides and herbicides have been shown to have adverse effects on human health.

By purchasing foods from the North Country Grown Cooperative, Dining Services has introduced a foundation for change. However, we still rely heavily on a purchasing model focused on cost and convenience. Questions of food miles, support for local farmers, and sustainable farming practices have not been our primary concern. Ironically, although situated in a region with a rich agricultural heritage, we purchase very little of our food from the farms of the St. Lawrence Valley.

Opportunities for St. Lawrence University:

Nothing beats locally grown food for freshness and flavor. And buying local food is a great way to strengthen the local economy by supporting our farming neighbors.

  • We should strengthen our partnership with local farmers by purchasing 20% of our food from farmers in the St. Lawrence River Valley and surrounding region by 2010.
  • To celebrate this commitment, dishes that feature local foods should be labeled as such so that people can choose to "eat local."
  • Remember, the goal is not to ban long-distance food. The goal is to restore a balance of local and long-distance food for the health of our community, our farms, our land, and ourselves.
  • By 2008, we should develop a composting protocol and facility so that food "waste" can be turned into an asset.