With evidence mounting about the benefits of food grown without chemicals and pesticides, CU is jumping on board the organic movement with efforts targeted at dining halls, grab 'n' goes and convenience stores on campus.

CU going organic

Dining services works to get pesticide free foods onto students’ plates

With evidence mounting about the benefits of food grown without chemicals and pesticides, CU is jumping on board the organic movement with efforts targeted at dining halls, grab ‘n’ goes and convenience stores on campus.

But the university isn’t stopping at just organic, said Lauren Heising, the coordinator for sales and nutrition with dining services.

“I put it all under the big umbrella of sustainability,” Heising said. “We don’t just focus on organic, but also look at local and natural, depending on what the item is.”

Heising said dining services just began a movement last week to bring local and organic produce to the dining halls. Right now, she said, the mixed greens and usually the spinach in the salad bar are grown organically.

“We can’t have completely organic salad bars right now,” Heising said. “But we are looking at going organic with several other items, including items that have more pesticides.”

Debbie Sarfati, a local nutrition counselor and natural food cooking instructor, praised the benefits of organic foods.

“I believe that nutritionally, organic is so superior,” Sarfati said. “The food is grown in nutrient-rich soil that hasn’t been stripped with chemicals and pesticides so you also get nutrient-rich food.”

Continuous efforts to go local and organic on campus do run into some obstacles, Heising said, including cost and Colorado’s location.

“I think we’re doing well but unfortunately we don’t live in a state where we have a big agricultural business,” Heising said. “California always has produce right down the road. Our growing season is just May through September.”

Beyond produce, all of the coffee provided in dining centers is fair trade coffee, and ground beef used for hamburgers, lasagna and mixed entrees is natural and locally produced by Coleman Natural Foods.

The dining halls are also looking to procure natural chicken breast from Coleman and feature fish that come from sustainable sources, Heising said.

Right now, freshman open-option major Sarah McNichols said she mostly stays away from the meat products served in the dining halls because she’s not sure of their quality.

“I’m a big fan of the salad bar, it’s all I really eat,” Mc Nichols said. “If they had meat like lamb and sausage that were organic though, I would definitely eat that.”

For students who live off-campus and want to eat organic on a budget, Sarfati recommended taking advantage of locally grown food.

“The best way to shop, especially for organic is to take part in the farmers’ market,” she said. “With the market, you’re not paying for transportation costs and the food is all local and seasonal.”

Sarfati also said fruits and vegetables with thinner skins or skins that don’t peel off are the most beneficial to buy organically because, when conventionally grown, they are more likely to transfer chemicals into the body.

When organic foods aren’t an option because of cost or availability, Sarfati said that she believes any kind of fresh produce is better than canned, frozen or processed foods.

“I see it in my clients all the time,” she said. “When they eat more produce, they gain a certain life energy from the fresh plants.”

Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Emery Cowan at emerycowan@thecampuspress.com.

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