Universities up their organic offerings
At about this time yesterday, students filling up their trays at the U.C. Berkeley salad bar realized something was missing: the carcinogens.
On Monday, the Cal campus debuted an organic salad bar at one of the student dining facilities. Though many schools are offering organic options these days, Berkeley is the first in the nation to have an officially certified organic salad bar, complete with separate prep facilities — so as to save the organic shreds of lettuce from the indignity of mingling with the non-organic variety, of course.
And students are noticing the difference. Said one 19-year-old sophomore, “It’s not just that it tasted different, but it felt different. It seemed more like lettuce, I guess.” Dude … deep.
Meanwhile, in a much colder and less, uh, surfer-dude-populated area of the country, the U. of Wisconsin-Madison became the latest collegiate body to join the Humane Society’s campaign against factory farms. Along with more than 80 other schools, UW-Madison’s Food Services has agreed to the “near-exclusive” use of organic, cage-free (or “cruelty free”) eggs, improving the lives of some 3,000 egg-laying hens.
Some universities are doing even more to push organic — they’re educating future organic farmers:
“[The Burley-Demeritt Farm in Lee, N.H., is] the first organic dairy farm at a land grant university in the country,” said Thomas Kelly, director of the [University of New Hampshire]’s Office of Sustainable Programs. “With it, we want to look at organic dairy farming in New England, its sustainability here, and the economics.”
Being built on 30 acres near the UNH campus, the multimillion-dollar dairy farm aims to teach future farmers to shun chemicals and go organic — a potential financial boon in an area (like many across the U.S.) where organic dairy products are selling like hotcakes (organic hotcakes, of course), even with prices set 20 percent higher than the non-organic variety.
The university aims to help by providing research that supports the organic dairy industry; a lot more research has been done on using chemicals than not using them, says UNH animal and nutrition sciences prof Charles Schwab. “What we’re aiming for is sustainable agriculture that takes a holistic, integrated look at the environmental and economic and community impact of agriculture.”
The project is funded in part by Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt maker based in New Hampshire. But the school is still seeking funds to build a milking barn and breeding facility, and hopes to squeeze every last drop of charity out of local donors. Even so, Schwab says, with 45 donated cows and organic-feed fields ready for planting, UNH hopes to say they’ve got milk by next December.
And I hope to milk the story for udder puns.