Global Food, Health, and Society

A Colby Community Website for ST297, Fall 2018

Seeing is Believing

This class has made me think about many things that I hadn’t before. In particular, where the food comes from that I eat at Colby’s dining halls every day. For my first blog post, I wrote about Global vs. Local Food and the differences between buying from an industrial farmer or supplier versus a local one. Colby switched it’s dining services provider to Bon Appétit several years ago, and since then a real effort has been made to buy locally. For my final project, I wanted to make a video that explores who supplies our food.

That brought us to Emery Farm, where we saw physically where our food was coming from, but also had the chance to hear the experiences and story of Trent Emery, the owner of Emery Farm. He showed us his property, which was in pretty much a clean-up phase after the summer.  It was really interesting to see the empty greenhouses and to see the fields with cover crop all over them, in their resting state for the winter. The greenhouses are essentially plastic over earth, allowing for the crop to use the nutrients from the soil naturally instead of using aquaponics. They grow the crop in the ground, as opposed to on platforms using lights like many industrial farms.

A greenhouse at Emery Farm

Trent said that often times, when he delivers to Colby, the fruits and vegetables are picked the same day that it is brought to our dining halls. As fruits and vegetables increasingly lose their nutritional value as soon as they are picked, in order to ensure that students are able to meet their nutritional needs it is important that these foods come from a local source. Buying locally saves environmental costs such as transportation and refrigeration which both take a great toll on the environment. Eating locally decreases the chance that food will be contaminated in the transportation process and therefore the more local the safer. Buying locally pumps money into local economy rather than large retailers who care more about bottom lines than their employees. All of these factors are extremely important in considering why it is vital that Bon Appétit buys locally whenever possible. Emery Farm is a prime example of that and shows that when products are sourced locally, it can be beneficial to everyone. Since Emery Farm doesn’t deliver to supermarkets, only small organizations and cafeterias at schools and hospitals in the local area, its growth is based upon how people in the community buy locally. After being able to see just one place where our food comes from, and being able to talk to the man who produces much of it, I feel I have a better understanding of why it is vital to buy locally from people like Trent. Similarly, students should be able to know where and who their food is coming from in order to be able to have a clean conscience eating in the dining halls and not have to worry about any potential personal health, environmental health or economic health issues.

A crucial point why locally sourced food is better to buy is that by doing so, you give back to your local community. If there is an opportunity and an ability to grow a certain crop locally, why not do that instead of having the same crop shipped in from far away. At the most basic level, when you buy local more money stays in the community. Many local economies are languishing not because too little cash comes in, but because of what happens to that money. By buying locally instead of from industrial suppliers, consumers keep their communities from becoming a place where Main Street in every town looks like every other Main Street with the same fast-food and retail chains. When money is invested into small farming communities, it comes full circle. The money passes through many people in the community, allowing smaller towns to thrive and give back to one another.

All in all, buying locally is beneficial for everyone involved. The food is fresher, seasonal, better for the environment. safer, better for the local environment, promotes variety and the community. From visiting one of the farms that provides us food, it has given me a new perspective on why this is so important and that buying from industrial farms should be avoided.

Now you’ll have to wait to see our video.

3 Comments

  1. Ben,

    Nice job on your analysis! I thought you did a great job explaining why the produce found in our dining halls must be sourced locally and I am extremely interested to hear the rest of the information that you gathered for your video. I am especially interested in this topic considering the fact that Colby students frequently criticize Bon Appetite and because dining services is a hot topic that is analyzed across the country on various college campuses. Dining services is even a ranking that makes an appearance in the Princeton Review best colleges book. I enjoyed that you humanized and put a face to the source of our food, and it is comforting to know that efforts are in fact made to ensure that the Colby dining halls obtain fresh and high-quality food from local sources.

  2. Great job on your post. I have never really thought too much into where our food in the dining hall comes from. This post really taught me a lot about where the food that I am consuming everyday comes from. It also taught me why buying locally is so much better not just for small town economy but for a higher-quality of food that contains more nutrients. I can’t wait to see your final video and get a glimpse into what the other farms that Colby sources its food from are like.

  3. I thought that this blog post (and overall project) was one of the most interesting ones in class, and I kind of wanted to do it myself at the beginning of the semester. Such a cool idea. It is amazing to learn more about where Colby’s food comes from and how sustainable it is. I am happy to see that there are no horror stories about mistreated animals or poorly maintained facilities. It is important to think about how local farms help the local community, economy, and environment, and it seems like Colby is going about it the right way. Great blog post and documentary!

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