If you’ve sampled trout, milk, green beans and many other items this fall from a WUSTL Dining Services eatery on campus, chances are, you’ve eaten local.
Between 18 percent and 20 percent of food served by WUSTL Dining Services comes from local sources, says Jill Duncan, dining services marketing director.
“The exact number fluctuates, depending on the time of year,” she says. “Some products that aren’t seasonally based we can buy year-round, such as meat and bread. Others are available during only certain times of the year, such as tomatoes, broccoli and green beans, which are available in the summer and fall.”
No matter what the season, Dining Services is making a significant effort to give WUSTL diners more local dining choices, Duncan says.
What ‘eating local’ at WUSTL means
While eating “local” in general can mean different things, much of the food WUSTL Dining Services considers local is produced and grown within a 150-mile radius of campus and purchased through Dining Services’ Farm to Fork program.
Farm to Fork vendors must go through a lengthy certification process to ensure the farmers and producers are following program specifics. Depending on the category or type of food, this could mean using sustainable practices such as being produced or raised without routine added hormones and antibiotics or that ingredients used in production are also sourced locally.
Menu items containing Farm to Fork products are marked on Dining Services’ menus with the Farm to Fork icon and often times with the vendor’s name.
For more information about Farm to Fork, visit bamco.com/sustainable-food-service/farm-to-fork.
For foods that aren’t ready to be served off-the-vine, -line or -tree — such as bread, coffee and sushi — WUSTL Dining Services uses St. Louis-area vendors Companion Bakery (4555 Gustine Ave. St. Louis, MO 63116), Kaldi’s Coffee (700 St. Bernard’s Lane, St. Louis, MO 63110) and Wasabi (286 East Avenue – B, Webster Groves, MO 63119).
WUSTL Dining Services’ first choice is to purchase seasonal and regional ingredients from a 150-mile radius of campus. When a 150-mile option is not available or cannot be sourced in quantity to meet the volume of meals prepared and served on campus, Dining Services looks to purchase food grown or produced within the greater Midwest region, Duncan says.
Why eat local
There are many reasons people should consider eating local, Duncan says.
First, local foods are fresher simply because transportation time required to get local food to WUSTL is less than food that has to be shipped from places such as Florida or South America. With shorter commute times, local foods often are consumed quicker and have higher nutritional value, Duncan says, and preservatives are not needed.
Secondly, eating local often means eating more sustainably. Because local foods are grown and produced close to campus, less energy is needed to transport the food to WUSTL, which reduces the environmental impact of the food served on campus.
Lastly, eating food grown or produced locally supports the region economically and helps build positive relationships with St. Louis-area farmers, vendors and artisans. It also strengthens people’s connection with their food, Duncan says.
“In our society, over the years, we’ve gotten away from thinking about what food means to us,” Duncan says. “When we build relationships with people who produce our food, it helps us think about the importance of food in our lives, how food brings people together.”
Local products at WUSTL
Below are some examples of products served by WUSTL Dining Services, the vendors purchased from, and the vendors’ distances from WUSTL.
- Pumpkins, squash: Thies Farm, St. Louis, Mo., 17 miles
- Pork: Geisert Farms, Washington, Mo., 50 miles
- Cheese: Marcoot Jersey Creamery, Greenville, Ill., 60 miles
- Milk: Prairie Farms Dairy, Carlinville, Ill., 70 miles
- Mushrooms: Ozark Forest Mushrooms, Big Spring, Mo., 92 miles
- Cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, green beans, broccoli, honey: Double Star Farms, Bluford, Ill., 95 miles
- Trout: Troutdale Farm, Gravois Mills, Mo., 148 miles
- Grass-fed beef: Rain Crow Ranch, Doniphan, Mo., 179 miles
Those interested in local food also can consider eating at Ibby’s Bistro in the Danforth University Center. At Ibby’s, Duncan says, between 70 percent and 80 percent of the food served at any given time is from local sources.
For more information about local food at WUSTL, email Duncan at Jill.Duncan@cafebonappetit.com.