The Goal: To eat foods produced sustainably.
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.
1Lovins, Hunter. 2005 Pesek Colloquium on Sustainable Agriculture: Energy and Sustainable Agriculture .
Allegheny: Dining services: Local Foods Dinner – Every year the school hosts a local foods dinner, educating the students about the sources of their food.
Bucknell: On campus organic gardens .
Dickinson College: Dickinson College has a student run organic garden . This link discusses the organic garden and its history.
Dickinson College: Dickinson has announced a plan for the opening or a working organic farm at the College.
Current Initiatives and SLU Success Stories:
- In the spring of 2006 an organic herb garden was planted outside Dana. There are 6 "boxes" in a row in which we grow herbs for use in our recipes. It has been very successful with the staff and heavily used by them.
- Purchase many local items. Year round we purchase items from the North Country Co-op such as maple syrup, honey, bison burgers, and other items that are available. We meet with them when the farmers are planning their crops and then in the fall purchase the available items.
- Our milk and eggs are purchased from local businesses.
- We purchase items from Potsdam Coop, Purple Rice and the Potsdam Bagelry to sell in the Northstar Cafe
- We have also asked our Prime Vender, Sysco, to purchase local - NY state items and they have assured us that they do. We purchase already chopped vegies and lettuces, to decrease the amounts of waste, water and labor involved with cleaning and processing the vegetables.
- A few years ago we purchased golf carts for transportation during the warm months. We also use a Gator for small deliveries instead of the larger vehicles.
- For several years we have given each first year student a mug or Nalgene bottle for them to use instead of paper. We are not sure how successful this is. We also provide a discount to anyone who brings their own mug to use in the cafe.
- Exhaust fans are on timers.
- Lights get turned off when rooms are not in use as much as possible. We even turn the lights down in Dana between meals.