Students advocate increase in local, healthy food

Locally grown does not mean much more expensive, they say

Real Food Campaign worker Jesse Yurow and Sari Ladin ’12 say your body is what you put into it.

Maura Boughter-Dornfeld ’14 and Marisa Turesky ’13 are watching what they eat – and what all the rest of us are eating too.

In 2009, Dornfeld and Turesky started the Real Food petition in an effort to shift campus cuisine towards a more “local, fair-trade, ecologically sound, and humane” direction – a “real food” direction.

The women wanted “to prove the viability of this campaign by showing its support within the student body,” Turesky says. So far, more than 600 students have signed the Real Food petition; the activists’ goal is 1,000.

Turesky said the students hope to be able to work with the university's food vendor to change the content of the campus diet.

The Real Food petition is inspired by Real Food Challenge, a nonprofit organization based in Boston that supports college students seeking to reform food services at their schools. Real Food Challenge claims to have influenced more than 300 colleges nationwide to pursue healthier agendas.

Real Food Challenge addresses health, environment, animal rights and even human rights issues by promoting foods that are produced within 250 miles of where they are consumed, are ecologically sound and are not genetically modified. The campaign supports companies that treat employees fairly and animals humanely.

“As a university that prides itself on its commitment to social justice, I think it is imperative that the administration include food justice as part of our mission,” says Anna Bessendorf ’15, an enthusiastic supporter of Real Food. “More than just minimizing our carbon footprint, choosing local agriculture is an ethical decision about improved nutrition, fair wages, the treatment of laborers and supporting local businesses.”

The Brandeis petition seeks to accomplish three concrete goals: to create a group of students, staff, and administrators to communicate on cost-effective food sources, to shift 20 percent of the food budget to “real food,” and to assess food quality annually.

“The myth is that this will be way more expensive. Through and through, our society’s addiction to the accumulation of money is the enemy to the environment,” says Nate Shaffer '15, another student involved in the effort. "Some local foods cost less than those brought from far away, while others are only marginally more expensive, he said, adding that “we should be able to offset costs by having generic brand cereals, smaller meat rations, etcetera.”

The students also look to engage the city of Waltham.

“We need to challenge ourselves and ask the broader questions: ‘What can I do on a large scale that will effectively promote social justice and catalyze larger change?’" Turesky says.

The petition can be found here.

Categories: Student Life

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