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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Conscientious consumer: a Carleton dining guide

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College, especially at Carleton, is often overwhelming because of the sheer number of choices that students get to make – from classes, to summer plans, majors, roommates and friends. And these choices also extend to the food we consume on campus: unlike family dinners where individuals often have few options, Carleton dining allows us to make many choices every meal that we eat. And whether we like to recognize it or not, these choices have an impact on Northfield’s food system and, on a larger level, global food system. Here are some tips that will help you be a conscientious consumer the next time you are confronted with too many choices in the dining hall:

Look for the F2F sign. The “F2F” stands for farm to fork, and if you choose in option in the LDC or Burton with the F2F logo, you are supporting local farmers who produced this food, as well as reducing the wasteful transportation emissions that are often burned in order to ship perishable foods.

Study seasonality. Not all local produce is labeled with the F2F sign. But if you choose seasonal fruits and veggies, there’s a greater chance that they came from a local producer. So this winter, steer towards root vegetables like carrots, beets, potatoes, parsnips and turnips, instead of things like tomatoes or broccoli, which are almost certainly shipped from far away.

Try to eat your food without a tray. Studies have shown that putting dining hall food on a large tray makes students take more food than they can eat, leading to unnecessary food waste. In addition, cleaning trays often uses more energy and water than would be spent on individual plates.

If you eat chicken, try to eat only Main Street Project chicken. Bon Appétit sources some of the chicken that they serve from a very progressive local business called the Main Street Project. This is a much superior option than chicken that is bought from the Tyson Corporation. Alternatively, Bon Appétit also supports a local turkey producer, Ferndale Market, which can be another more sustainable poultry option.

Try “Meatless Monday.” Red meat especially consumes massive amounts of grain, water, and energy. Skipping one burger can save enough energy to charge your iPhone for 4.5 years. And that one patty takes an average of 616 gallons of water to produce! (By contrast, the average salad requires 30 gallons to produce, that’s over 20 times less water.)

So, next time you walk into the dining hall, I encourage you to recognize the power that your personal decisions wield. You are a consumer every meal that you eat at Carleton, and if you are conscious of these choices, you have to power to support some great local businesses and producers.

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