Eating Local 101
Eating Local 101: An Introduction for College Students
by Raquel Dalarossa
The Finger Lakes region is known for an abundance of farms and local food and drink producers, but it’s also known as the home for several universities and colleges. It only makes sense that local vendors would want the area’s collegiate population as customers and that students would take advantage of the region’s resources, but it doesn’t always happen organically.
As a college student, I understand the difficulties of trying to eat locally produced food. I know that it’s viewed as being more costly, time-consuming, and inconvenient by students. But, as a budding locavore, I also know that it only takes a little planning and a good attitude to make eating locally easy, convenient, and even fun.
A common way to get the freshest fruits and veggies straight from the farmers is simply to go to a farmers’ market, which is “like grocery shopping, except more fun,” describes junior Ithaca College student Matt Bettina.
“I buy everything I can from the Ithaca Farmers’ Market and only hit the grocery store for what I can’t find at the market,” he says. “I enjoy cooking and this way, I always feel good about the food I’m eating. It’s usually great to go with some friends, too.”
Another option that doubles as fun outing and local food source is a U-Pick farm. The experience of eyeing a delicious looking piece of produce, hand-picking it yourself and bringing it home is worth the short trip to any of the many available nearby U-Pick farms.
“Growing up, my family and I would pick berries at a local U-Pick farm. We used to do it all the time and it was a huge part of my childhood,” says Senior Daniel Lovria of the Rochester Institute of Technology. “I grew up in a farming town so I definitely try to support the local community, and U-Pick farms will always be a way for me to do that.”
When you’re looking for a quick fix, restaurants that source locally produced foods are a perfect option. Senior Cornell student David Harwitt supports the local community by choosing restaurants that he knows are supporting local farms.
“I don’t do a lot of cooking, so I end up eating out a lot around Collegetown. I just keep an eye out for places that prepare their food with local produce and meat. My burrito habit is [taken care of] with Mexeo for example. For me, it’s an easy change to make, and I know my dollars are going to a local, small business rather than a chain restaurant.”
And finally, for students that are restricted to eating on campus, supporting the local food community is as easy as staying informed about what your dining halls have to offer. Sophomore Stephanie Seiden enjoys the locally produced food available at her school, Syracuse University, such as the Byrne Dairy ice cream and Crowley yogurt.
“Living in a dorm room without a car means I hardly ever go off campus, and with a meal plan I’m pretty much only eating at our dining halls. [That’s why] I appreciate SU’s effort to buy food from local sources, and I try to pick those foods whenever possible.”
If you’re a college student in the Finger Lakes area, take advantage of any of these simple practices and start supporting our local farmers and producers. And if you have suggestions for other students who want to be part of the eat local movement, be sure to comment with your ideas.
Raquel Dalarossa is an intern with Edible Finger Lakes and a junior in the Writing Department at Ithaca College.