It's the Latest Crave: Eating Organic

10/04/2006

Contributed by Julie Whitten

Sustainability is and continues to be an important initiative for Ithaca College. Fresh Food Market in Towers Dining Hall opened this fall offering organic, local, fresh, and natural foods. Although several faculty, staff, and students have heard of organic and sustainable foods, many are unsure of the exact details.

What is organic food? Over the years, it has become common to understand and define organic agriculture as farming without synthetic pesticides and conventional fertilizers. This should not be considered a definition but a characteristic—only one characteristic of a socially and environmentally conscious approach to agriculture that is currently experiencing rapid growth in the U.S.
A more suitable definition of organic agriculture is provided by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)—the federal advisory panel created to advise the USDA on developing organic legislation. The NOSB defines organics as:
“an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.”

The NOSB definition, not surprisingly, is similar to many definitions of “sustainable” agriculture. Research on organic farms, done over several decades, has revealed characteristics usually associated with sustainable farming, such as: (1) reduced soil erosion (2), lower fossil fuel consumption (3), less leaching of nitrate (4), greater carbon sequestration and, of course, (5) little to no pesticide use( http://www.attr.../whatisorg.html).

Fresh Food Market employs dedicated chef Puang-Ngern Deljoo “Pam”. Pam is very knowledgeable about Fresh Food Market food’s origin and informs students what farm her ingredients are from. The menu is evolving with the change in seasons, and all food is served to order making little waste. Organic farms that provide food to Ithaca College include: Stick and Stone Farm, BB Farms, Remembrance Farm, and Fingerlakes Fresh.

Fresh Food Market menus are available on-line at www.ithaca.edu/dining, selections include: organic turkey and club sandwiches, tower burgers, mushroom walnut burgers, crisp polenta, portabella wellington, free range chicken, burritos and tacos with grass-fed beef and organic pasta. The most popular items include: fresh organic salad, marinated tofu, and grilled vegetable heros. All menu items are cooked to order and organic salad and fixings are always available.
Fresh Food Market availability is hoped to increase as the demand for sustainable food increases.

Ithaca College Dining Services offers a variety of services including residential and retail dining. For more information regarding Ithaca College Dining Services explore our website at www.ithaca.edu/dining .

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