September 20, 2007

Student Interest Spawns Sustainable Dining Eateries

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Two new eateries, Manndibles in Mann Library and Moosewood in Anabel Taylor Hall, have opened this semester to answer the demands of Cornell students for increased sustainability on campus.
Moosewood Restaurant, a longstanding Ithaca landmark for vegetarian eating, opened their lunchtime café this semester.
Anthony Kveragas, senior executive chef of Cornell Dining, said that he has “been working with students to get more local and sustainable practices on campus” and that bringing in Moosewood to implement this plan brought in name recognition and helped Moosewood to test pilot the organic interest on college campuses.
In the past, Kveragas said, he has been encouraging chefs to buy locally, but without a fully organic kitchen on campus, bringing in a restaurant with such resources and a huge following, like Moosewood, was necessary to meet the student requests.
“Moosewood brings organic and natural foods for healthy eating especially for vegan and vegetarian people and also people with allergies,” said Sarah Carpenter, an employee at Moosewood.
She explained that the options provided by Moosewood to those customers with wheat and milk intolerance, such as the option to add cheese instead of originally preparing the dishes with cheese, make the eatery flexible to all diners.
“I like to try to eat good food but it’s not an obvious priority,” said Mary Domask ’09.
The convenience of having the natural eatery like Moosewood on campus draws a new clientele.
Moosewood has a growing menu, currently including things like Texas two bean chili, Moroccan stew, pitas, salads and a BLTease, which includes Tofukan instead of bacon. They plan on offering desserts and hummus on the menu soon. According to Kveragas, as Moosewood’s clientele grows, so will their menu.
Both Moosewood and the new café Manndibles at Mann Library practice sustainability in ways that extend beyond providing locally grown food; both eateries use compostable silverware and plates, made of starch and potatoes.
Pam Gueldner, the owner of Juna’s Café — the parent café of Manndibles — said that Ecotainer coffee cups have a corn based lining instead of plastic lining, making them compostable. The cold-beverage cups, called Greenware, are made from corn and not a petroleum product. Additionally, Manndibles uses potatoes in the utensils, which make them biodegradable.
Gueldner is very committed to recycling.
“We would love it if the students also took a few moments to look at the signs on the bins and recycle or compost as much as possible,” she said.
So far, according to Gueldner, Manndibles has been disposing of two bags of compost for every one bag of trash they throw away. The composted material is then used to re-nourish the soil.
Manndibles offers an extensive and growing menu including wraps, bagels and a large selection of coffees and teas in addition to baked goods.
Unfortunately, unlike Moosewood, Manndibles doesnot accept big red bucks, but Gueldner has not seen this as a deterrent for any customers.
Students are attracted to the sustainability Manndibles offers.
“At Cornell, we have less competition , and are in a place where our customers understand the value of using local products and compostable containers,” Gueldner said.
“I was impressed with the use of metal spoons for stirring coffee as opposed to the wooden stir sticks and plastic stirware that is commonplace and wasteful around campus,” Jennifer Warne ’10 said.
Other customers of Manndibles, like Edmund Oh grad, welcome the “pleasant atmosphere to meet and chat and get some work done.”
Nick Principe ’08 an employee of Manndibles acknowledged that the café brings “more of Ithaca to Cornell” improving the relationship the University has with the city. Principe also sees a connection between the café’s location in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Human Ecology library and the ideals it presents such as the local foods movement and a cooperative effort with community.
Manndibles presents their values proudly within the café, with a sign that reads, “It is important to use as many locally grown foods as we (one) can, [to] support the local economy, cut back on travel miles, live as lightly as we can, connect with our community, [and] be inspired and have fun!”