University Unions hosts first farmers’ market of fall semester

Tracy Ko/Daily
LSA junior Nusrat Hussain purchasing potatoes at the MFarmer's Market in the courtyard of the Michigan Union. Buy this photo

By Will Greenberg, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 12, 2013

Students perhaps looking for a break from a diet of ramen noodles and Mountain Dew gathered at the Union courtyard Thursday for the first Central Student Government Health Issues and University Unions farmers’ market of the semester.

The market featured farm produce from local farmers that supply the University dining halls, including Lesser Farms and Orchards, Goetz Farms and the University’s own farm. Chefs from the University dining halls gave cooking demonstrations and handed out food samples. Other participants included Planet Blue, the Student Nursing Association, Great Harvest Bread Co. and U-go’s.

Parisa Soraya, chair of CSG’s Health Issues Commission, said the market took steps this year to increase focus on locally grown food and sustainability. This included providing free reusable shopping bags. Soraya said the market serves as both a shopping and a teaching opportunity, adding that the total cost of the event was about $8,000.

“Since food is such a cross-cutting issue — we all eat food; we all have to get it from somewhere — it’s a good starting point to learn about sustainability,” said Rackham student Allyson Green. “It gets people thinking about energy and transportation and growing practices.”

Dale Lesser, of Lesser Farms and Orchards, said at last year’s market he had to run back to his farm in Dexter to restock because sales were going so well.

“I like the interaction with the student body, and right now local foods is kind of hot anyway, so it’s been working good,” he said.

The Student Nursing Association presented representations of beverage sugar content and additional health information for students.

Nursing junior Leontine Wallace from the SNA said many students she spoke with were surprised to learn the benefits of local food to overall health, saying many health providers focus too much on the “basics” without encouraging extra health habits.

“You can wash your hands and get immunized a million times, and you can still end up sick because you’re out of balance in these other realms,” Wallace said. “I think that a lot of students and people in general don’t really get all that kind of information from their health provider.”

“We know what’s in it, we know what’s going in it, we know where it’s grown, how it’s grown, and our bodies are going to be happy about that,” Art & Design sophomore, Carly Fishman said.

While several students said they would likely frequent the market if it were held weekly, Soraya said logistics and busy farmers make it hard to hold the market consistently.

There will be two more markets this fall on North Campus, and the U-go’s at the Union will continue selling limited produce from Goetz Farms on Wednesdays.