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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

SEA promoting more local foods in dining halls

Published: November 3, 2006
Section: News

Last week, Students for Environmental Action (SEA) held a series of events entitled Think Globally, Eat Locally, which were aimed at raising awareness of the myriad benefits of eating locally grown produce. The group hopes that increased awareness will lead to more local produce being available in the Brandeis dining halls.

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the group handed out apples grown at the Autumn Hills Orchard in Groton, MA and organic carrots from Lands Sake farm in Weston, MA. Thursday night, the group concluded the weeks events with a dinner of local produce provided by Waltham Community Farms.

People were really into it, said Elizabeth Ginsburg 08, one of the SEA co-coordinators. We had people who came back every day for different kinds of apples, added her counterpart, Lisa Nussbaum 07.

Ginsburg and Nussbaum explained that locally grown produce is better for the environment because it only needs to be transported from a few towns over, as opposed to from across the country, which cuts down on fuel consumption, and thereby carbon dioxide emissions. Also, Ginsburg added that SEA wants to support local farmers because they represent someone who cares about good products instead of quantity.

In addition to promoting the environmental benefits, SEA hopes to entice Aramark into providing more locally grown produce on campus.

If the student body wants it, Aramark will respond, said Nussbaum, while also explaining that currently, Aramark provides a few items a week that are locally grown. These items are designated by a special sticker bearing a picture of New England.

Nussbaum noted that Aramark is open to the idea of providing more locally grown produce, but that the biggest struggle is quantity, since local farms can not supply enough to feed the many people present on campus each day. She also added that so far, whats been done hasnt affected [dining hall] prices, which is a common concern surrounding an increase in locally grown produce.

Nussbaum and Ginsburg also mentioned that many other colleges have local food programs, and particularly praised Yale for its policy of providing a farmers market for students.

We know this can be done, said Ginsburg, and we want to follow suit. Ginsburg also stated that students can support local produce by shopping at the farmers market in Waltham, which unfortunately closed for the season last weekend.

The Thursday night dinner, which Ginsburg called a big cooking extravaganza utilized produce from Waltham Community Farms, which seeks to promote, support and manage community farms, according to its website. The farm provided collard greens, lettuce, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, and squash for the dinner.

Students for Environmental Action provides an active community at Brandeis for students to organize, plan, and follow through in our efforts to help environmental causes, according to the groups website. The group aims to support a variety of campaigns including environmental justice, pro-earth political lobbying, promoting the campus' natural wildlife, and raising the general awareness of environmental causes on campus.