The multitude of food options on campus can be overwhelming. Dorms and restaurants serve every cuisine imaginable. Visitors are blown away by the variety this campus offers. So how do we decide where and what to eat? Most of us decide based on proximity or a craving. Next time, though, I challenge you to choose your meal option from local sources.

Locally grown food has countless benefits, including the satisfaction of your palate. Sometimes, locally grown food can taste much better. This is an obvious conclusion, since freshly picked food is going to taste better than processed food that has been frozen or injected with chemicals. Do you think it’s healthy that our food is sprayed with chemicals strong enough to keep bugs away and then we ingest it? Though some local farms use chemicals and fertilizers, they are less likely to do so than industrialized farms.

Of course, it would be ideal just to eat organic foods that don’t contain any chemicals. However, it’s often hard to find “organic” foods. And local farms cannot always afford to be certified “organic.” Many local farms have organic practices, such as Goetz Farm, which is one small supplier of food in the University’s dining halls. Goetz Farm takes measures to help the environment by reusing rainwater and rotating the crops to prevent land deterioration. Our local farms work harder to produce food of a higher quality than that which is mass-produced and chemically infused. The result of higher-quality soil and natural seasonal cycles is better-tasting food.

In the long run, it’s also cheaper to eat local and organic food. Though you think that cheap fast food is saving you money, it’s going to cost you later. Large health care bills due to poor nutrition and/or obesity can be avoided if you just choose to eat healthy now. In eating at local and organic places, you are helping your wallet and body by avoiding future, serious illnesses, which result from the high-fat content and unnatural ingredients in foods.

The money you eventually save by lowering your future health care costs, as well as the money currently spent to cultivate local farms and restaurants, will help Michigan’s economy and employment now and in the future. During difficult times like these, it’s especially important to keep our money in Michigan’s local economy.

The next step is figuring out how to eat local. First, if you live in the dorms or have meal plans, try to eat at least two meals at East Quad. Some of you might think that East Quad is a place only for hippies and RC students — and yes, its dining hall does serve a lot of vegetarian and vegan food. But more importantly, it serves food that is from within a 150-mile radius of Ann Arbor or the state of Michigan. If we all just ate there more, we could support local farms and encourage these practices to be applied to other dining centers on campus, also reaping the benefits of better-tasting and more economical food.

At Yale University, there was once only one dining hall that served local, organic foods. Once this food became so popular that students started to sneak in to eat at the specific dining hall, all dining halls started serving local and organic foods twice per day. If we students want more local and organic foods served here, we have to show it by supporting East Quad’s practices.

If you eat out a lot, there are local and organic options for you as well. Restaurants in Ann Arbor that currently buy locally include Arbor Brewing Company, Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery, Grizzly Peak, Seva Restaurant, Silvio’s Organic Pizza and Zingerman’s Delicatessen & Roadhouse, along with others. There is also the farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., that sells seasonal food from local farms. Try these options instead of eating at fast food spots.

We need to be aware of our food intake and help ourselves with local and organic food both for our personal health and for the health of our local economy.

Alyse Opatowski is an LSA junior.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.