5 Ways to Support Your Local Campus Food System

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Young tomato plants at the University of Ottawa's community garden

I was listening to the radio the other day and some talk show host mentioned this "new fad for fresh and local food". I kind of didn't even notice it at first, but then I started thinking about it. New fad? Fresh food is a new fad, like people would gladly purchase old and artificial food instead? And local food? I would imagine for the majority of human history, the bulk of anyone's diet was local food.

Well, I guess if this new fad is making its way around the globe than I might as well tell you how you can jump on the band wagon too. Most of this information is specific to the University of Ottawa but this kind of stuff can be done any where.

1. Join the Good Food Box or a CSA
The Good Food Box is a basically a wholesale buying club for fresh food. Similar to a CSA (community supported agriculture), you need only purchase a box and one or more local farmers fills up your box with delicious goodies. The box is delivered to the campus (or even right to your front door in some cases).
The SFUO Food Bank is a partner organization for the Ottawa Good Food Box program on campus. Click here to order a box for yourself.

2. Check out the Farmer's Market
A big problem for farmers is getting their product to the market. Often a farmer can't compete with giant agrofood companies in terms of volume or marketing. Luckily there are farmer's markets which help level the playing field and give you the chance to actually talk to the person who grows your food.
The SFUO hosts some farmer's markets on campus but you can check out all the markets around Ottawa here.

3. Look for Local and Organic labels
Not everything has to be purchased and made from scratch. There are tonnes of options to buy local and organic meals without having to buy the individual ingredients. In Canada, there is a specific certification for organic food, so as a consumer you can be sure that your food is in fact organic.
Official labels for Canada Organic and Foodland Ontario

Local food labels are not federally regulated and can come in many shapes and sizes. Make sure that you talk to any vendor about what qualifies as local if they have a label.
On campus, you can look for the local label for bread, pasta, and eggs. The Food Trucks on campus also use local ingredients.
Chartwells logo for local food

4. Join the Community Garden
Why go in search of local food when you can just make some of your own? Either on campus or off, a garden is a good way to take control of where your food comes from and what kind of chemicals go into it.
If you don't have space at home, sign up to take advantage of the community garden plots on campus.

5. Join the Food Lab
Maybe growing food isn't your thing but you still think local food and food security are important. Well, there's an option for that too. You can join a club, like the food lab, and help advocate for a better food system on campus or in your community. Remember, planting the seeds of change can also be done in a meeting room.

~ jon - campus sustainability manager

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