The people of Rochester are very proud of their Public Market. Voted one of the best in the country, it attracts hundreds of visitors every Saturday.
But in a recent study comparing the number of farmers markets per 100,000 people in the population, New York state did not even make the top 10 list. Our close neighbor Vermont stands strong and proud at the top.
This does not mean that New York does not have a strong group of farmers market or that New Yorkers don’t care about local food. At UR, we are constantly looking for ways to make our dining services more sustainable and to buy even more food locally. Our commitment to the environment and our future is one of the things that makes us a fantastic university.
Tomatoland, by Barry Estabrook, provides valuable insight into where your tomatoes come from.
Florida accounts for one-third of the tomatoes grown in the United States and almost all of the “fresh-market, field-grown tomatoes” raised in the U.S. during the winter season. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, $5 billion worth of tomatoes were bought by Americans in 2009. You may be surprised to discover that tomatoes are not native to Florida, and in fact, the plants we consider tomatoes, were derived from a variety of wild strains in coastal deserts of South America.
I have found the most interesting part of Tomatoland to be about the workers of the field. The tomato employees work in condition dangerous to their health and well-being, due to the chemicals applied to the plants and the lack of training and awareness. It is an amazing story about modern industrial agriculture that I recommend to even non-tomato lovers.
There may possibly be carrots, lettuce, peppers, and/or tomatoes from the Microfarm in your Meliora salad. In other dishes, you may find garlic, kale, beets, oregano, or mint from UR’s campus garden. Microfarm is a nonprofit housed by the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. Located in Whipple Park on the University of Rochester’s South Campus, Microfarm is student run and sells produce to the Meliora restaurant. It was founded by 2011 Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year (KEY) scholars, Annalise Kjolhede and Caitlin Smigelski. Check out their blog: UR Microfarm
On that note, it’s local foods week! There will be special dinners throughout the week and information about our local vendors in various dining locations. See your Dining Services e-mail for more information.
We have a new coffee vendor on campus!! (And you can never have too much coffee, especially around midterms, right?)
Roasted by McCullagh Coffee of Buffalo, NY, Ecoverde is the newest coffee brand on campus. Ecoverde is Rainforest Alliance Certified, which reflects a commitment to conserving biodiversity, ensuring that soils and waterways are protected, and providing farm workers with decent housing, access to medical services, and school for their children. Not only is Ecoverde Rainforest Alliance Certified, but it is also packaged in completely bio-degradable and compostable packaging. There are currently two types of coffee blends available: Guatemalan Medium Roast Coffee and Decaf Colombian Coffee, adding to the wide variety of coffee vendors available on UR campus.
Beyond the aesthetic appeal of the new and improved Danforth Dining Center at the U of R are a multitude of creative sustainability initiatives. Here are some things you may not have known about the renovation…
Take a seat and you will find that you are sitting on a chair made out of 111 recycled Coke bottles. When these Emeco chairs first entered the market, they diverted 3.5 million bottles out of landfills!
During the demolition phase of the Danforth renovation, 75% of the total waste material was diverted back to the manufacturing process. This prevented 100.95 tons out of 133.84 from being disposed in landfills and incineration facilities.
The design of Danforth utilizes natural light in a way that reduces the light energy consumption. Meanwhile, the spaces that are lit use LED lighting and day lighting controls.
UR Dining has installed a pulper that turns napkins and food waste into compost while conserving water and preventing excess trash from entering the waste-stream.
These are only a few of the main sustainable solutions that were woven into the renovation, greatly reducing the environmental and energy impacts of the dining facility.