Campus needs more organic options

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    Most TCU students would agree that on-campus dining isn’t exactly Mom’s home cooking. Many have complained about high prices as well as an overall lack of flavor and appeal, but one topic that has not received much attention is the lack of nutritional value of the food served on campus.

    Sure, it is possible to eat relatively healthy with options such as Eden’s salads or fruit cups from The Main, but there is definitely room for improvement. TCU could increase the overall healthiness of its offerings, while doing its part to help the environment and our society by expanding the on-campus organic food options.

    Organic food, in a nutshell, is grown and produced organically without the use of pesticides or chemicals. The food is also not genetically modified. To maintain the integrity of organic foods, the Food and Drug Administration requires farms to pass a strict certification process before they can even call themselves an organic farm. Thus, if a bag of apples at Albertsons is marked organic, you can be certain it really is, and it meets all the requirements to be called such.

    Organic foods are better or healthier than regular food because they lack the pesticides that are sprayed on crops for the sole purpose of killing bugs and bacteria, which means that they are probably not all that great for humans either. Yet, every time you eat a grape or a slice of a tomato, you are ingesting those harmful chemicals.

    However, because organic items are pesticide-free, they are forced to fend for themselves against bacteria and disease. Some studies have found that this strengthens the crop’s immunities, which results in an increase in the vitamin and mineral content of the crop, according to the Food Marketing Institute. Of course, most college students could use some extra vitamins and minerals in their diet. Put simply, eating organic foods means less bad things and more good things are being put into your body.

    If you don’t care about your own health and well-being, you should eat organics because they are also better for the environment. On conventional farms, farmers spray their crops with pesticides and chemicals, and water them frequently. The result is a runoff of pesticides into local streams and water supplies, tainting food and water sources for surrounding plants and animals. Some of the chemicals may also dissipate into the air. An organic farm does not have any of this harmful runoff or dissipation, creating a healthier environment for whatever or whoever happens to live near the farm.

    If you’re still not persuaded, organic foods also have several indirect benefits to society.

    In general, people who produce organic foods are seen as publicly and actively more concerned about important social issues – such as fair trade and fair labor – than conventional producers are. This means when, you go grocery shopping for organic food later this afternoon after reading my article, you will find more products that are produced with fair trade and fair labor in mind than you would with traditional food products.

    You will probably also notice that organic foods, especially produce items, are often grown locally. Purchasing locally grown products not only aids the local economy, but it also means less gas was used in transporting the goods. Of course, just because organic foods are more likely to be produced under fair trade regulations or grown locally does not mean that all organic foods are produced that way. It is just a beneficial byproduct that often comes along with something being organically produced.

    Many universities have already discovered the many benefits of organic foods, especially in the past few years. At the University of Wisconsin, a large portion of the food served on campus is locally and organically grown.

    Similarly, Yale University looks to spend 40 percent of its food budget on organics this year, while the University of California at Berkeley now offers completely organic salad bars across the campus. It looks like TCU has some catching up to do.

    So, by offering more organically produced items, TCU would be increasing overall student health and helping preserve the environment. Depending on what and where it is purchased, it could also help the local economy, cut back on pollution and gas-consumption, and support fair trade and labor. More organic options are also smart steps to better personal health and a better global community.

    Caleb Slavin is a freshman entrepreneurial management major from Flower Mound.