UVA students suss out green food on grounds


Here’s some nifty reading. Four UVA students have kept a blog detailing their semester-long project to investigate the idea of sustainable food that’s available to Hoos. Under Professor Ben Cohen, they explored over the course of this fall whether "sustainable eating" has any viability for the average student. Interestingly, they defined that term in four different ways: financially (can students eat green for $6 or less per meal?), agriculturally (can students live on organic food?), geographically (can students live on local food?) and in terms of vegetarianism (can students live without meat?).

This piece in the Atlantic summarizes the project nicely. The students were optimistic and relished the challenges of their adopted diets, but were often stymied by cost considerations. Their adventures make clear the dilemmas familiar to many of us would-be green eaters: do you walk to the place where you can buy an imported banana, or drive to the place where you can buy local organic lettuce? (Bonus points if you answered "Neither—take the trolley.")

I’m especially intrigued by this post in which a student recounts his family’s Thanksgiving meal: a pile of mindfully prepared pancakes. Yep, just pancakes. In the writer’s estimation, even though the ingredients of this meal weren’t local or fully organic, it counts as "sustainable" because it represented a conscious decision not to buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of groceries just to make the holiday table look bountiful. I think that’s a great point. Organic and local ingredients will ultimately have to be paired with a sensible approach to quantity if we’re going to feed this country sustainably.

When these students leave the confines of UVA and enter the wider world, they will encounter ever more complexity regarding their eating choices. I’m glad they’re boning up now.

Anyone else read their blog? Care to comment?