Campus Sustainability Day: Today

Happy Campus Sustainability Day!  To celebrate, UVa Dining is featuring dishes in its dining halls that can be deemed a "Green Menu Item".  At lunch, students enjoyed dishes like eggplant parmesan (Newcomb), corn chowder soup (O'Hill), and chicken caesar salad with local Romaine lettuce (Runk).  Green your menu at dinner this evening and continue the celebration!

Corn chowder at O'Hill

O'Hill salad bar - green every day!


UVa Sustainability Dialogue

Thanks to everyone that came out for yesterday's Sustainability Dialogue at the Kaleidoscope Room!  Paxton Marshall, Cheryl Gomez, Andrew Greene, and I all spoke about various facets of sustainability across the university and how we're tackling the UVa directive to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% of 2009 levels by 2025.

It was an informative session, with some lively discussion afterwards.  To learn more about the event and the carbon commitment, take a look at this NBC29 coverage:

Video about UVa Sustainability Dialogue


Reflecting on AASHE 2011

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, or AASHE, held its annual conference last month at the green (and LEED Gold certified) David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh.  This year’s theme was “Creating Sustainable Campuses and Communities”, and, appropriately, many of the workshops centered around place-based education and ways for campuses and their surrounding communities to successfully collaborate.
Scenic Pittsburgh view from the convention center balcony

UVa was well represented at the conference, with six staff members, two faculty members, and five students attending (and most of us carpooling!), and a number of us presenting posters or giving presentations. I gave a presentation entitled “Fostering a Local Food Procurement System: UVa Dining’s Relationship with the Local Food Hub”, which went well and seemed to elicit a significant amount of interest from attendees. In fact, that appeared to be the case with all food-related presentations and dialogues, and reinforces what is obviously a growing trend among college and university campuses: institutions want to play a role in ensuring food security and food sustainability.
Here is a sampling of food projects that various schools and organizations shared at the conference:

• University of Florida is eradicating 100% of its Styrofoam on campus, including at national brand retail locations like Chik-fil-A
• Arizona State University has established a thriving, 27-vendor farmers market on its campus every other Tuesday throughout the academic year
• Yale is reinventing its salad bar by removing processed meats and replacing with fresh produce; also by removing all processed salad dressings and replacing with high-end olive oils and house-made dressings
• The EPA has just launched its Food Waste Recovery program, to encourage schools to reduce food waste along all tiers of the food waste recovery hierarchy
• Randolph College is designing an edible urban landscape for the green spaces on its campus
• The Marine Stewardship Council provides a 3rd party sustainability certification to wild stocks of fish around the world, and in turn colleges and universities can buy this MSC-certified fish as a way of increasing their percentage of sustainable food purchases
• Emory created a part-time Farmer Liaison position to seek out partnerships with Georgia farmers between 2007 and 2009, and has also published an Eating Sustainably booklet on its website with such sub-topics as “Health Benefits & Sustainable Eating” and “Sustainable Food and the Georgia Economy”
• Students at the University of Western Michigan are in the process of launching a student-run cooperate cafĂ© on campus, called The Campus Beet

All of these discrete projects illustrate the growing momentum on campuses around the country to be part of the shift in the way that our food is grown, processed, distributed, and consumed. The variety of presentations given is particularly indicative of the great depth and breadth of this food movement: people are approaching the journey towards food and agriculture sustainability from public health, social justice, climate change, and even cultural and heritage perspectives. Food is, of course, deeply personal, and means something to everyone. It makes sense, then, that due to everyone’s vested interest in “eating as an agricultural act”, colleges and universities would rise up to pioneer sustainability innovations in this sector.

Dr. Sandra Steingraber, one of the conference’s keynote speakers, eloquently summed up higher education’s responsibilities where sustainability was concerned, when she told the crowd that we couldn’t let people be lulled into a sense of complacency by dutifully taking out their recycling, or other relatively superficial activities. Instead, it is time for institutions – and the people working, teaching, or being educated at them – to step up and do something heroic.

How can Virginia institutions step up?


Fair Trade Month: October

Happy Fair Trade Month!  Dining celebrated last Wednesday with a Fair Trade coffee and chocolate sampling event right outside of Crossroads, and we had a great time sharing these little bites with passersby along with a bit of education about Fair Trade certification and what it means in regards to sustainability.

Info tabling for Fair Trade Month

A few Fair Trade facts:
  • Economics -- Fair Trade certified businesses work cooperatively together in order to cut out the middleman and receive a living wage for their products.  This ensures a sustainable business model.
  • Envionment -- The Fair Trade certification requires agricultural items to be grown according to specific environmental standards that prevent deforestation and erosion, and use of toxins that can harm the water supply, among other criteria.  This ensures a sustainable growing environment.
  • Equity -- Some revenues earned through Fair Trade certification are put towards improving infrastructure, like building schools, health clinics, or libraries.  Children and women in particular are empowered through these resulting opportunities.  This ensures a sustainable community.
Dining is proud to carry a number of Fair Trade certified products in our retail locations - and not just during the month of October! 

Fair Trade label

These are the Fair Trade certified products that Crossroads carries on any given day:
  • Green & Black's organic chocolate bars (Almond, Dark, White, Maya Gold, Hazelnut & Currant)
  • Ben & Jerry's ice cream (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Half-Baked)
  • Choice organic tea (Chamomile, Classic Black, and Classic Green)
  • Honest Tea (Black Forest Berry, Green Dragon Tea, Just Green Tea, Peach Oo-La-Long, Pearfect White Tea, Pomegranate Red Tea with Goji Berry)
  • Coffee 
Handing out samples

Sydney and Sedia spread the word about Fair Trade Month

Fair Trade USA has also just introduced a new "Fair Trade Finder" App that allows you to easily find Fair Trade items wherever you are -- and needs people like you to help populate the database.  Check out the Fair Trade website for more information.

Thanks for stopping by last week, and check out the Fair Trade products throughout the rest of the month and beyond!  Remember: every purchase matters.


Local Food Hub Warehouse Tour

Last week, a few of the UVa Dining chefs and I trekked out to the Local Food Hub warehouse in Ivy (a few miles west of Charlottesville and Grounds) for a tour of the space and to give the chefs an opportunity to see the Food Hub operation for themselves.  Alan Moore, Head of Sales, led the tour and answered questions about partner producers, seasonal availability, and other logistics.  Lisa Reeder, Farm Services staff member, set up a lovely apple and pear sampling spread for us to try out, and even sent us home with some goodie bags!

Dining is grateful to the Local Food Hub for the warm reception and for taking the time to show us around.  Every dollar spent with the Local Food Hub is a dollar keeping Virginia agriculture a viable economic sector.

Alan and the chefs checking out a box of produce
The Local Food Hub warehouse

Locally Grown

Local Food Hub branding