Eating local food is better for the environment, our bodies and our tastebuds. There is something satisfying about knowing where the meal you’re eating came from and that you are making a positive impact on local farmers by consuming it. Wilfrid Laurier University is surrounded by a very resourceful landscape, which the majority of the student population doesn’t put to their advantage.
To encourage these students to eat locally, Alison Blay-Palmer, professor of geography and environmental studies at Laurier, suggested that there should be a direct bus to the nearest market available to encourage them to buy and eat locally. There are currently busses that will bring patrons to the market, but not without transfers, which can be time-consuming.
“Students need to be educated and care where their food is coming from,” said Blay-Palmer. “Ask the venues if their food is local as it demonstrates that students care about their food choices.”
Students who wish to experience the excitement of local culture at St. Jacob’s Market on Thursdays and Saturdays need to be informed individuals as well. Remember to ask the other vendors if their products are local and organic before assuming they are, as the vegetables and fruit sold during the winter are normally brought from the Toronto Food Terminal. A great alternative to driving or bussing to St. Jacobs is joining Bailey’s buying club, which brings local and seasonal food to KW residents every 4-6 weeks. Buying local not only has the benefits of tasting fresher but is a lot more energy efficient and better for the Canadian economy.
There are also sustainable food conferences and talks occurring throughout the year for individuals yearning to become more knowledgeable in organic, local and eco-friendly food products. Upcoming events include the “Growing a Greener Future from Field to Table” conference in Toronto and “Farming for Foodies: The realities of farming sustainably in Ontario,” to be held in Kitchener.
It takes a lot of planning to buy locally and often as students we find ourselves with empty cupboards, relegated to eating on campus. When buying lunch or snacks on campus, be aware that some of the vendors are more environmentally friendly than others. Also, there is always the weekly WLU Farm Market, which offers locally grown foods for a good price.
And when you do have to make a hasty trip to the grocery store, remember that the basic products that you normally buy there are usually processed at some point or another from a group of major corporations.
With the rise in our student population, we can have more of an impact on what food is sold at our university. Students that are interested in purchasing smarter food can join a share in a community-supported agricultural co-op (CSA).
By knowing that your money is going directly to producing quality food you can rest assured that you will positively impact your local community, while satisfying your body.