Now, more than ever, people are aware of what foods they consume, where their meals come from, and the practices used to produce them.
Organic and local food has become a hot topic. Local food refers to the food cycle where production, processing, distribution and consumption are all consolidated into a small area. The goal of eating locally is to ensure that profits stay within the local community, and that the members of that community are consuming quality food.
As eating local gains more attention, more people desire high quality food, and Rider is making an effort to satisfy those requests. All produce, bagels and bread, and ice cream products in Daly’s come from businesses in New Jersey and neighboring states. Students can see just where every bite of their salad was grown, thanks to information that is posted at Daly’s salad bar. Rider is setting an impressive example by embracing fresh, local ingredients, and many other institutions and restaurants are also choosing to hop on this bandwagon.
The growth and operation of food cooperatives, or co-ops, is helping to make this way of life a reality. A co-op is a food market that is owned and operated by a group of consumers, rather than outside shareholders. The consumers voice their opinions and make all decisions concerning production and distribution. Honey Brook Organic Farm is one of New Jersey’s own co-ops located in Pennington, about 15 minutes from both of Rider’s campuses. This farm has been providing Garden State residents with locally grown produce since 1991.
But what does all this have to do with us at Rider University? We all need to eat in order to survive, and no one wants to eat low-quality foods. The old saying, “You are what you eat,” rings true, particularly in our fast-food consuming society that is plagued by disease. The only way to overcome this epidemic of consuming processed foods is to open our eyes to the effect that eating frozen meals packed with preservatives has on our bodies. Armed with knowledge and awareness, everyone can make conscious decisions about what they eat.
Students who consume processed, unhealthy foods may be lacking in essential nutrients, which can affect academic performance. Web MD states that “inadequate nutrition can lead to unexplained fatigue, apathy and irritability.” It’s vital for students to fuel their minds with healthy foods.
Food may be a necessity of life, but our world has moved further away from our ancestors’ diets of fresh food. However, we are now moving back to our roots and learning more about what it means to consume quality food. Rider is making great strides by providing fresh, locally grown food to its students, but it is up to us to put those foods on our plates and into our mouths. Next time you’re in Daly’s, take a look at the information posted about the foods in front of you. You might just find yourself opting for a fresh, local apple instead of another helping of fries — and your body may just thank you.
Printed in the 02/25/15 issue.