Make an impact: choose your food wisely

Source: Tufts Photo

Do you know where your food comes from? When you pick up an apple after lunch in the dining hall or go grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon, do you read labels to see if your food is local, organic, or whether it has traveled hundreds of miles to get to you?

Many of us don’t know the answers to these important questions, but we should. Every day, we vote – three times a day (probably more) – with our dollars based on what we choose to eat and consequently, the type of food industry we choose to support. In the growing battle between local, organic farming, and mass-produced international produce, most of us are unaware of how much power we have to make a difference. If you’re blindly picking the cheapest fruits and vegetables off the shelf, you may be unwittingly supporting poor labor practices and unfair working conditions, the use of untested pesticides, or corporate culture detrimental to communities. Not to mention, cheap food is often lacking in nutritional value—much of supermarket produce is artificially ripened and often genetically modified. (Did you hear about the petition asking Walmart not to sell unmarked, genetically modified engineered sweet corn from Monsanto?) When you choose cheap supermarket produce, you may not know the truth about the food you are purchasing.

Fortunately, though, it is becoming easier and more convenient to make good decisions about your food and the food producers you support.

Here at Tufts, there are a number of ways you can help support local, organic industry. Tufts Dining Services serves local, organic, and Fair Trade products in addition to vegetarian options, cage-free eggs, and certified sustainable seafood. By looking for these products and choosing to avoid options that are not sustainably produced, you can make healthier, more eco-friendly choices. In addition, you can leave comments in the dining halls requesting more sustainable products—Dining Services is very receptive to feedback and communicating that this is an issue that is important to you can have a large impact down the line. (The sale of single-serve bottled water was eliminated from Hodgdon thanks to a student petition.)

A sample of vegetables that comes with a farm share

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