January 31, 2008

Closer Than You Realized!

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Have you ever thought about how what you eat actually impacts the environment? Maybe a ‘granola-munching vegetarian’ once chided you for filling your plate with a main dish of ribs and a side of chicken at the dining hall. As students, we tend to take food for granted, or try to eke out a living on ramen and mac and cheese – or both. And what else can we do? We’re students after all, right? We’ve no time, and maybe no money to really think about what we eat. Shouldn’t that kind of thing should be left to the 63-year-old retirees that jog to the health food store every morning? Well, sure, we don’t have a lot of time and we don’t have a lot of money, but we do have a responsibility that the status of “student” doesn’t free us from. We are still all global citizens and what we eat does impact the environment. So while you obviously can’t just go cold (local…?) turkey as a university student, you can take some small steps that will do a lot of good for the environment, the local economy, and for you!
Though you might not know it, Ithaca is a hotbed for local food – so much so in fact that the first of the small steps of which I speak is easier to carry out than you might have thought possible. It is this: Eat at the dining halls! Yes, after talking to the Cornell executive chef last semester I found out that Cornell Dining uses 30 percent local foods to prepare meals. This is a huge increase from the 2005 level of 7 percent. So start right here on campus with your next meal. You won’t have to do anything different than you normally do (if you’re on the meal plan of course), but you’ll come away knowing that you actually just did something. Feel good about what you’re eating.
Well, thanks for taking a little time off from Facebook and your real books to read this. I know you’re busy, so I won’t keep you. But, if your interest has been peaked at how easy it can be to start eating local, check back in – I’ve only given you one tip so far. I’ve got many more. Little by little we can all work together to decrease the size of our “mouth-prints,” and it won’t starve us, break us, or make us less cool.