Dorms emphasize local food


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Whether University of Iowa students knew it or not, local food has been just a meal swipe away.

A group of students are working with UI Housing and Dining to implement the labeling of all homegrown foods used in the dining halls, hoping to inform students about what they are eating.

The labels will be incorporated in the marketplaces starting in the fall.

“I think there’s this idea that everything is frozen and prepackaged because all you see is people unloading packages and boxes,” said UI junior Meghan O’Connor, who is in the student group leading the project. “It’s not really what the [reality] is.”

O’Connor is part of a Sustainable Systems class at the UI that focuses on creating sustainable projects for the community. This particular one is concentrated on UI dining, while others include the Iowa City Farmers’ Market and other groups in the community.

Jill Irvin, the director of UI Dining, said the labels came after a long history of local products in the dining hall.

“We know what products we buy locally,” Irvin said. “It’s just a matter of matching [the labels] all up with the [foods] that have them.”

Some of the products purchased locally include honey, beef, pork, and chicken.

“… We’re always evaluating new products, whether they’re local or non-local,” Irvin said. “So whenever we hear of a new product that’s locally produced that has potential for us, then we test it and decide if it’s something we want to incorporate.”

One sustainability expert said it is important for people to understand where their food is coming from, but because that is more difficult for students, this project is especially necessary.

“We’re lucky here in Iowa City because we have several places you can purchase local food,” said Liz Christiansen, the director of the UI Office of Sustainability. “But if you live in the dorms, you are probably relying on UI Housing and Dining, and UI Housing and Dining supports local foods, so it’s nice for students to know they have those options.”

Not only does it help the students, it helps the greater community as well, Christiansen said.

“Locally grown food is flavorful, you’re eating in season, [and] in many cases it has more nutrients,” she said. “You’re helping the local community, [and] it can help the economy.”

Christiansen said this issue is one she sees college students really embracing.

“The whole issue of local foods is really gaining popularity, especially among young people,” she said. “I think people want to have more control over their diets and what they are putting into bodies.”

O’Connor said she anticipates the project will receive support from a community that she thinks has gone through a “green movement” in the last couple of years.

“I think there’s a lot of people, especially in the Iowa City community, who just want to keep things local and sustainable,” she said. “We’re starting to care more about what we’re eating, and I think [the labels will make] everyone feel better about what they’re eating.”

In today's issue:

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.