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CSG Farmer's Market to offer students fresh look at sustainability

HaleyHoard/Daily
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By Alicia Adamczyk, Daily Arts Writer
Published September 13, 2012

University students already sick of cafeteria food and burnt TV dinners, rejoice — Central Student Government will host its second annual Farmer’s Market today in an effort to provide healthy, sustainable produce options on campus.

CSG, in collaboration with University Unions, University Health Systems, U Catering, U Housing and Residential Services and a host of other campus departments, will set up shop today in the Union courtyard — located next to Amer’s — from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to sell a variety of fresh and locally grown flowers, plants, produce and other delectable fare.

“Our focus is on healthy and sustainable living,” said LSA sophomore Parisa Soraya, a member of the CSG Health Issues Commission and the organizer of the market. “We’re doing that by having demonstrations from University chefs.”

CSG and its collaborators will utilize the market not only as a produce sale, but as a way to educate students about the importance of going green.

“They’ll have free samples for students and also provide them with recipes,” said Soraya.

The recipes the chefs prepare will include produce from the market to encourage students to try new foods.

Soraya said due to the overwhelmingly positive response after 2011’s market, farmers this year will offer a greater quantity and variety of produce. Another notable difference from 2011; students can now purchase produce using cash, credit cards or Blue Bucks.

Soraya stressed the importance of the entire campus community making strides toward sustainable eating.

“We’re a really big University,” she said. “It makes more of a difference when the whole University participates in these things because there’s a lot of people going towards the same goal.”

Keith Soster, food service director for University Unions, noted the importance of buying locally grown produce and said all produce at the sale will have been grown within a 250-mile radius of Ann Arbor.

“When you can get it locally and support the local vendors I think that means a whole lot to the community,” Soster said.

In addition to today’s market, CSG will host a second sale on Sept. 27 in the gallery of the Duderstadt Center on North Campus and a third on Oct. 11, in the courtyard of the Union.

Soster said more markets will provide an opportunity to sell different produce as growing seasons change. He said the October sale will feature pumpkin and squash, whereas “(in) the first one you’ll see more things like flowers.”

Not only will University chefs educate students on sustainable eating and provide recipes, but farmers will attend to discuss their crops and the challenges involved in the growing process. One of the farmers will instead bring honey to the market, since his usual apples were decimated this year by inclement weather.

“That’ll be an important educational piece for our community,” Soster said. “It’s important for everybody to understand how availability affects price, and seasonality affects price, and how devastations can affect everything.”

Soster mentioned that in addition to the market, the U-Go’s in the Union, will continue to feature Farm Fresh Wednesdays, during which students can buy fresh produce every week until the end of the growing season. Soster said Farm Fresh Wednesdays, which began in the first part of July, are “a beautiful thing.”

“I think it was really great for our community to see that number one, we partner with local vendors, that we have produce available for them to pick up, and then thirdly, that they can take those items and taste it,” he said.

Erica Wald, manager of MHealthy Nutrition and Weight Management, which promotes a culture of health at the University, said the program acts as a “support arm” for the markets and reaches out to the University’s faculty and staff to attend the sale.

In addition to chefs from the University Unions, Wald said MHealthy chefs will create various “MHealthy approved” recipes that will be featured at the sale. MHealthy recipes promote the use of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats, and all meet the MHealthy Nutrition Guidelines.

Wald said she was encouraged to continue to support the sale after experiencing the great enthusiasm pervading last year’s sale.

“People are there and they are thankful that you’re there, they’re excited to see food demonstrations and taste the food and talk to the farmers, there was a great energy,” she said.

Students are encouraged to bring reusable bags to carry their purchases.

Correction appended: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the event would be continuing through Sunday.