Binghamton University students were treated to farm-fresh meals at the College-in-the-Woods Dining Hall Thursday, getting a taste of locally grown food items and produce from the BU Acres farm.
Students could choose from options such as vegetable quesadillas, broccoli and portobello mushrooms. Ingredients for these foods were provided by local farms and the BU Acres farm, and students mentioned that there was a big difference in taste from the normal dinners served nightly by Sodexo.
“The stuffed mushrooms were so good,” said Raffaella Glasser, a sophomore majoring in English. “Usually I have to order out or go off campus to get good food like this, so I guess I was just so happy this happened tonight.”
The menu pleased many students, who said they enjoyed the great taste as well as the wide selection of foods. Vegetarians such as Glasser reported that they were content with the organic selection, including corn on the cob, broccoli heads, stuffed mushrooms and fresh soup.
“My sister and I are vegetarians, but there aren’t always many great options to choose from in the dining halls. The selection today was better, and the food tasted much better,” Glasser said.
Students at the local farm-provided dinner service said they enjoyed local and organic foods more than their standard Sodexo meals, but that acquiring such local produce required a lot of effort.
“I believe strongly in supporting local farms and businesses. I would love to eat organic but I don’t think it’s realistically attainable for everyone,” said Juliette Maugeri, a sophomore majoring in psychology.
Some students said that the removed location of these local farms and organic markets restricts them from pursuing organic and healthier food products.
“I would like to increase my consumption of locally grown food since it would embolster a sense of community, as well as aiding the local economy,” said Gregory Zorn, a sophomore in the Decker School of Nursing. “I am not eating locally grown foods at the moment due to the fact that the majority of my meals are on campus, and I have no control over where they purchase their foods.”
Outside the kitchen area, four groups were tabling and offering samples of their farm-fresh products. Ultrafresh Produce, Purdy & Sons, Finger Lakes Fresh and F&T Distributing Company, Inc. all set up tables in the CIW dining area, offering samples of fresh food made from local farm produce and talking to interested students about sustainable and organic farming.
The F&T Distributing Company drew a large crowd of students with their andouille sausage and oats, made on the spot, and their yogurt bars made from 100 percent real fruit. The family-owned company, which has been cooperating with Binghamton University for nearly 18 years, educated students on how they push for local New York products and their distribution in schools all around New York state.
“I strongly suggest that students can shop locally and eat locally,” said Tony Prudence, vice president of F&T Distributing Company.
The mission of these four groups converges on buying and eating fresh, local products from family farms. Steve Holzbaur, general manager of Finger Lakes Fresh, said that students are key in helping to bring local food to their universities.
“Their support could help get local products on their plates more often,” Holzbaur said.