OPINION: My proposal to eat local

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We all know the terms like carnivore and omnivore, but the latest addition is a locavore. According to an article from About Food titled “What Is a Locavore?” locavores support their local economy by avoiding processed foods, but they also hope to connect to their local community in the process. While the majority of a locavore’s diet is sourced within a designated radius from their home, they have cheat foods. These foods include coffee, spices and other food items that are usually unavailable to purchase locally.

I am probably in the minority here, but I genuinely do not enjoy fast food. When I get a craving for a deliciously juicy hamburger, I opt for So Long Saloon rather than Burger King. I much prefer the taste of So Long, but, more importantly, I also believe in supporting the Manhattan area by eating locally.

At its root, eating locally can be tied to buying ice cream from Call Hall or getting a perfectly prepared fish taco from Taco Lucha, but it is more than that. Eating locally can also mean buying ingredients that are sourced locally and preparing the food yourself.

There seems to be a stigma that eating locally and organically will break your bank. As college students, our textbooks and course fees already have the bank-breaking job covered, and our diets tend to suffer because of it.

I understand that there are nights when all you want is a Freddy’s steakburger with fries; we all have those cravings. I also understand there are other nights when a Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme is all you can afford; we have all been there. What I do not understand is why fast food has to be the thrifty college kid’s go-to, and other college students around the country are with me.

The American Farmland Trust, in collaboration with various institutions in New York, is working on an initiative to introduce more local foods into university dining centers in New York. This pilot project, termed Farm to SUNY, was introduced due to college students’ desire to eat more local food.

From New York to Boston, the local food demand is high. According to an article from Greatist News titled “Real Food Challenge Brings Healthy, Sustainable Food to College Campuses,” the Real Food Challenge’s goal is to “get colleges to source at least 20 percent of food from real sources.” The nonprofit organization considers real source to be humane, sustainable and local. Over 100 universities have been introduced to RFC, and 11 have formally integrated their schools into the program.

No matter the initiative, they all have similar calls-to-action, and we are the ones being called. As college students, we have a lot more power in this movement than you might think; especially here at K-State.

We are an agriculture school, and we are blessed with fresh ingredients right in our backyard – literally. Our dairy, animal and meat science programs are hands-on in the production and retail of fresh agriculture products. Call Hall is not only stocked full of ice cream, but also milk, eggs and tons of meat too. The Bakery Science program puts on a bake sale every Wednesday in the basement of Shellenberger, where you can purchase cookies and breads that they physically make themselves the night before. Their Monster Cookies are to die for.

Beyond our school grounds, Manhattan provides even more opportunities to source local ingredients. On either side of town you can find the Eastside and Westside Markets. I have been to both stores, and the second I walked through their doors, I knew the produce was extremely fresh; I could smell it. They have an abundance of fresh produce, that, according to their website, is grown in North Central Kansas. You can also find jams, honey and refrigerators stocked with cured meats and cheese. At the beginning of this school year, I purchased some basil and mint from the Eastside Market, and now I have my very own herb garden growing on my patio.

I don’t have a car with me at school, but I don’t let that stop me from eating locally, and neither should you. When the weather’s nice, I go for a walk to Manhattan Town Center, but I don’t go there for the mall. On Saturday mornings, Dillard’s parking lot is transformed into a farmer’s market, and when the weather turns cold, from November to April, the market moves indoors at CiCo Park. Attending the market really makes me feel like I am supporting our town, even through something as simple as my purchase of sugar snap peas.

I am not proposing that you stop eating at chain restaurants, like Chipotle for example; I would never say such a thing. All I’m suggesting is that the next time you stop by Call Hall, take a gander in the fridge and maybe pick up some eggs or a fresh rack of ribs. The next time you make a weekend trip to the mall, notice the potatoes in the Dillard’s parking lot. Maybe you are extremely inspired, and you pop on over to the Westside market, pick up some fresh herbs and decide you’d like to grow your own herb garden in your tiny college house, too.

The way I see it, I’m a “townie” while I attend K-State, so I might as well eat like one.

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