By Hannah Benson
In this day and age, it seems like a lot of different institutions and organizations claim that the food they serve is “good for you,” whether that means free of trans fat, not made with growth hormone, organic or locally grown, but a lot of these are just empty
promises. Something can be fat free but still loaded with harmful ingredients, and something that’s organic can be grown far, far away and can have made its way to you through transport that releases harmful chemicals into the air and atmosphere. With all of this knowledge, we are forced to ask: what types of foods are good for us and the world around us?
The latest answer seems to be food that is fresh and locally grown, meaning that it isn’t made with pesticides and comes from the local area that it is served. This is healthier for people, as it isn’t genetically tampered with, and healthier for the environment, as the goods don’t go through lengthy travel to reach the location in which they’re served. Elon University, known for its sustainability efforts and practices, is known for serving food that is locally grown in its dining halls and at catered events around campus. A good deal of this local food includes greens in th
e dining halls, fruit and milk. In fact, a blackboard in colonnades dining hall boasts the weekly foods that are harvested locally.
The morning of Wednesday, April 26, Elon Dining decided to take it a step further and set
The dietician, Amanda Cerra, was enthusiastic when asked why she cared so much about her position at a school that was so focused on sustainable living.
“I’m here to educate students about the benefits of eating local and seasonally,” says Cerra. “I’ve been at Elon for almost two years now, and I am proud of the work I’ve been able to do with the dining program here, because I think a lot of kids don’t know about the benefits of local eating, and I am happy to belong to a university that makes it their duty to educate them.”
Amanda and Tabeer, another esteemed employee of Elon Dining, were hosting the tables today to play a spin-the-wheel game with students to see what they did and didn’t know about local eats.
Students were encouraged to come to the table, sample the strawberries and sugar snap peas grown within 20 miles of the school, match pictures of fruits with the season in which they were fresh for harvest and spin a wheel to answer trivia questions. The questions ranged from facts about Elon Dining to questions about eating local.
Sam Eisenstadt, an Elon sophomore who was at the table at the time, playing games and speaking with Cerra, had this to say about his experience:
I thought the game I played was informative, and I can’t believe I didn’t know more about farming and local produce before. I feel like the university should really go out of its way to teach students more about the local food culture and how to support it.
Some organizations and groups on campus do already exist with the intention of educating students about sustainability and what they
can do to contribute, one of the largest being the Office of Sustainability’s eco-reps,
students hired to spread the word around campus about how to live sustainably. Eco-reps come to classes and events to educate others about how to make those changes in their lives. They sometimes set up tables and allow students to answer questions about their sustainable living practices, and this sparks that curiosity that many feel is necessary to making a sustainable campus work. Their works are sufficient, but many people believe that the university directly could start making larger attempts.
And maybe this event was the first of many attempts on the part of the university to make those strides and educate their students.
“I think that as soon as students understand that eating locally makes such a big
difference,” says Cerra, “they might be more inclined to practice it and tell their friends. That’s what we hope for in the end.”