What’s On Your Plate: A Public Forum on Local Food and the Media next Thursday

The UVa Food Collaborative presents “What’s On Your Plate: A Public Forum on Local Food and the Media”, on Thursday, October 7th, from 4 to 6pm at the new LEED-certified Jefferson Scholars Foundation building at 112 Clarke Court, Charlottesville, VA. This free and open to the public panel will feature three of today's pre-eminent food writers and thinkers: Marian Burros, food columnist, New York Times; Tom Philpott, food editor, Grist.org; and James McWilliams, author, Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly. The panel will be moderated by Benjamin Cohen, historian, agrarian studies scholar, and Food Collaborative coordinator. Be a part of the discussion on alternative agriculture and the media forces that are shaping our perceptions of the sustainable food movement. A locally sourced reception, highlighting produce from Charlottesville area farms, will immediately follow the forum.

An award-winning cookbook author and journalist, Marian Burros writes for a number of publications, including the Times, and is covering Michelle Obama's Childhood Obesity Initiative. Find some of her recent writing at http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/b/marian_burros/index.html.

Tom Philpott is the food editor for Seattle-based Grist.org, and the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Maverick Farms, a sustainable-agriculture nonprofit and small farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Find some of his recent writing at http://www.grist.org/people/Tom+Philpott.

James McWilliams is an associate professor of history at Texas State University and the author of four books. He has also written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Slate.com, and The Atlantic Monthly on-line. Find some of his recent writing at http://www.theatlantic.com/james-mcwilliams/.

The UTS Blue Route and Trolley route both stop directly in front of the building, and there are also a number of bike racks at Foundation Hall. These are the recommended access points for the event as parking is extremely limited at the Foundation building.

For directions to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation building, visit www.jeffersonscholars.org/contact-us/.
For CAT Trolley route and schedule, visit http://www.charlottesville.org/Index.aspx?page=2548.
For Central Grounds Garage information, visit http://www.virginia.edu/parking/facilities/central.html.
For other information, visit www.virginia.edu/foodcollaborative.

This event is graciously sponsored by U.Va. Dining; Feast!; Relay Foods; The International Residential College; Hereford Residential College, The Integrated Nitrogen Footprint Project; the U.Va. Vice Provost for Academic Programs; Adam Dean; and the U.Va. Departments of Politics; Urban & Environmental Planning; and Science, Technology & Society.


Local Food Hub Educational Farm Tour next Tuesday

Here's an exciting piece of news for all you UVa foodies -- or really, anyone that has an interest in learning more about our food system and agriculture in our community -- Green Dining is sponsoring a visit out to the Local Food Hub's Educational Farm At Maple Hill next Tuesday morning (October 5th). We'll tour the fields, check out the greenhouse, examine the equipment, meet the interns, learn about day to day operations from Farm Manager Steve Vargo, learn about the Hub's outreach efforts with Outreach Coordinator Emily Manley, and then get our hands dirty with a short (to-be-determined) farming project. We'll leave UVa right around 8am to get to the farm in time, and will be back on Grounds by noon. Email me at kendall.singleton@virginia.edu if you're interested. Space is limited, so let me know soon!


Response to Cavalier Daily Lead Editorial, Monday, September 20

Monday’s Cavalier Daily lead editorial focused on the growing importance of sourcing sustainable, particularly local, food in a large institutional setting – namely our Health System and our University overall. This lead editorial reflects a burgeoning interest in the sustainable food movement, which in and of itself is heartening to see: these issues are coming off the sidelines and into the mainstream student consciousness.

The article highlighted the recent partnership with area nonprofit the Local Food Hub and the University Health System, noting a new video launched on youtube and the Food Hub’s blog that describes that relationship in greater detail. The video is worth a watch, as it demonstrates the mutual benefits that come from the hospital sourcing local food and serving it to patients and visitors. These benefits include human health – customers eating fresher food tend to get more nutritional bang for the buck; environmental health – the small family farms with which the Food Hub partners grow their product in a sustainable fashion, shying away from pesticides and unnecessary antibiotics; and economic health – the farmers running these farms have an opportunity for increased market outlets by working under the umbrella of the Local Food Hub, thus making their operation more economically viable and ultimately maintaining rural land in agricultural use. The hospital is on the right track towards shaking the negative image of hospital food by buying local and supporting local farms in the process.

UVa Dining has also fully acknowledged these same benefits of purchasing sustainably produced food. In fact, sustainable purchasing has been on its agenda since the Green Dining group was initially formed in 2005, and took more concrete shape in 2007 after the group participated in a formative webinar on sustainable purchasing for higher education. This webinar, attended by students, Dining administrators, and community members, recommended that a University aiming to make sustainable purchasing part of its program first needed to create a set of sustainable purchasing priorities. Thus, the Green Dining Bull’s Eye was formed. U.Va. Dining’s highest sustainable purchasing priority is – and has been from the beginning – locally and seasonally grown, which Dining defines as grown within the Commonwealth. The remaining priorities are organically grown, humanely raised, and fairly traded.

Since those priorities were solidified three years ago UVa Dining and Green Dining have worked collaboratively to ensure that such purchasing is taking place and even increasing annually. Dining has forged partnerships with individual local operations like the Farm at Red Hill and Twin Oaks Tofu, and also, due to its size and the enormous number of students passing through its locations each day, larger distribution organizations like Cavalier Produce and the Local Food Hub. UVa Dining began conversations with the Food Hub just weeks after it first opened its doors last summer, and is currently purchasing approximately $3,000 worth of produce from them each week. Using the multiplier effect, it quickly becomes evident that Dining is having a significant effect on the Food Hub’s (and its partner producers’) operations. Executive Chef Bryan Kelly has confirmed that Dining is spending more with the Food Hub per week than any other vendor.

Aside from the day to day purchasing that is really just becoming the new standard for UVa Dining, we also host special events and special meals that specially showcase the bounty of ‘Virginia Grown’; examples include a Farm to Fork dinner last April on Earth day, featuring food sourced entirely from Relay Foods and the Local Food Hub, as well as a ‘Make it a Local Lunch’ theme station at Newcomb just last week, which again highlighted produce from the Food Hub.

There are certainly constraints on our sustainable purchasing program: seasonality not matching up to the academic schedule; distribution and logistical costs; demand far outpacing supply; and more, but UVa Dining is pleased with the progress it has made in just a few short years. With students expressing enthusiasm for more progress, we'll only improve from here.


More Local Food at Newcomb

'Tis the season... for fresh, sustainably produced food grown right here in Albemarle County! To celebrate the bounty, Newcomb is hosting another locally themed meal at lunch tomorrow from 11am to 2pm.

The produce is sourced from the Local Food Hub, a nonprofit focused on strengthening our local food supply by way of ensuring economic and environmental vitality for the area's small family farmers. The Food Hub itself works with close to 45 farmers, almost all of which are located less than 60 miles from Charlottesville. (The photo is of Ronnie Crickenburger, co-owner, with his wife, of Meadow Run Gardens in Fishersville, VA.)

The menu includes:

Sage & Apple Pork Loin
Fruited Demi Glace including cherries, currants, raisins and cranberry
Sautéed Smokehouse Pepper Green beans
Roasted Autumn Vegetables including Delicata, Butternut, Acorn, and Buttercup Squash with Yukon Potatoes
Warm Dinner Rolls with Wildflower Honey

Delicious! Hope to see you there.

(In case you'd like to pass this along, the event url is https://eventcal.itc.virginia.edu/eventcal/event/display?event_id=1284561085001.)


Local Spirit Tailgate tomorrow at Newcomb

Now that it's officially college football season and the height of the Virginia-grown harvest, come enjoy the best of both worlds at tomorrow's Local Spirit Tailgate for dinner at Newcomb between 5 and 8pm. The menu includes:

Chicken wings with spicy caramelized onion dipping sauce
Fried potato wedges with assorted toppings
Ravioli with a pancetta cream basic sauce
French bread pizza
Sauteed peaches and apples with vanilla ice cream and berry compote

Sounds perfect for a pre-game tailgate, and highlights some of the delicious produce currently available in central Virginia -- potatoes, peaches, apples, onions, and more!

Shot of local fruit display from last week's successful Taste of Dining event.

A reminder that tomorrow is also the first Green Dining meeting of the fall semester, taking place from 1-2pm in Hotel E (upstairs from the West Range Cafe). Please join if you're interested in getting involved with sustainable dining projects this year!