Finding the time between homework, classes and work to cook a fresh meal can be quite a challenge. If you live on campus you know first hand how difficult it is to cook your own meal and we can all agree it is a challenge to find food on campus that seems fresh and healthy. Yes, we do have fresh salad bars available but having a salad three meals a day becomes mundane fairly quickly. Don’t get me wrong, the dining service offers us many options and provides us a great service. We have full meals, snacks, drinks and study aids such as coffee available to us all over campus. But, the truth is, most of us don’t think about how our food gets from the farm to our plate. For the most part we eat what we eat because it looks good – whether or not it is actually nutritious. But where does our food come from? How is it produced? And how does the food get to our plates?
At Cal Poly our food comes from all over the planet. As an agricultural school, one would expect we could sustain our own food consumption. We have the infrastructure, the land and the right climate, but we still have to import our food from far away. We live in a place where we are capable of producing food close to where it is consumed. We have the ability to help our local economy by providing income for community members rather than income for huge corporations who use massive monocultures that spread diseases and viruses. So why don’t we? By convincing our campus officials, friends and families to buy local, organic and fair trade foods, we can be part of the solution, not the problem.
Luckily there is a whole foods movement sweeping the nation. As students, we have a voice. We have the ability to choose where our food comes from. The Real Food Challenge is a movement lead by students to promote local, organic and fair trade food on campuses around the country. Real food is healthy food, not junk food. Real food is fair. It comes from healthy people, local and abroad, that are treated well, not exploited. Real food is lead by the community not by corporations. Real food is not grown in ways that pollute the land. Real food is grown through sustainable agriculture to provide current and future generations with the necessities to survive. Whether or not you do anything about it, food justice affects us all.
Students at Cal Poly and around the country are working together and taking action. You can join them. Student from more than 300 campuses nationwide are working together to pass initiatives on their campuses. Here at Cal Poly, the Empower Poly Coalition is leading the fight for food justice. With the help of Slow Food and the Organic Farm, we are working to provide you, the students, with fresh real food.
More than 200 students from across California are gathering for food justice from February 12-14 at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The summit, which is called Strengthening the Roots: Food and Justice Convergence teaches participants how to acquire the best techniques for your campus. Cal Poly will be represented, but all students are invited to join the fun and attend the convergence.
For more information on how you can get involved here at Cal Poly, please email empowerpolycoalition@gmail. If you would like to learn more about the national Real Food Challenge movement or are interested in attending the Summit at UC Santa Cruz this February, please go to realfoodchallenge.org.