Sustainability Bull's Eye
The Green Dining group created this sustainability bull’s eye in 2008. It is intended to serve as a set of guidelines by which Dining prioritizes its sustainable food purchases.
1. Local & Seasonal. According to U.Va. Dining standards, local foods are defined as those coming from the state of Virginia. Foods that have been trucked across the country, or shipped in from overseas, are often picked before ripe so that they can withstand the long, grueling trip they must take in between farm and fork. Their ripening process is thus very different than what would naturally occur in the field, and as a result, flavor and consistency may be sacrificed. Native Virginian foods are fresher, having come from within about 250 miles of Charlottesville, rather than having been trucked across the country or even shipped in from overseas. Local produce also supports Virginia's farmers, and in turn, supports Virginia's economy.
Additionally, U.Va. Dining purchases certain items when they are in season in order to heighten awareness of the southeastern climate's growing cycle. Rather than taking produce for granted, eating seasonally allows us to appreciate an item as it naturally matures and becomes ready to be harvested at its height of freshness. Seasonal eating also leaves more room for creativity in use of ingredients. In the fall, for example, Dining can explore the native heirloom varietals of kale or chard when creating a dish that involves greens. In this way, we are celebrating Virginia's agricultural roots as we rediscover flavors throughout the seasons.
Current Green Dining Actions: Local/Seasonal Dining Purchases
-Salsa and hummus from the Farm at Red Hill in North Garden, VA
-Organic tofu from Twin Oaks Community Foods in Louisa, VA
-Produce: tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, apples and more purchased from Virginia farms when seasonally available
-Theme Meals that showcase various locally sourced items when seasonally appropriate
2. Organic. The current large-scale agricultural model is dependent upon large quantities of fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemical and synthetic inputs. These additives allow for more efficient production and land-use, but come at an externalized price. Of particular concern is the chemical-laden run-off that leaves these conventionally farmed fields and enters our watersheds, like the fragile yet ecologically vital Chesapeake Bay. Organic agricultural methods acknowledge the toll that farming may take on the environment and are thus sensitive to its impact on the natural world. Organic produce may be qualified as such when no pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are used in their growing process. Meat, eggs, and dairy products qualify as organic if the animal that produces those items is raised without antibiotics or growth hormones.
Current Green Dining Actions: Organic Dining Purchases
-Select items in the Runk Dining Room Salad Bar are organic when available
-Marinated vegetables – cabbage, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash – at the Fine Arts Café
-Twin Oaks tofu at many dining locations
-Sliced turkey at the Fine Arts Café
-Cheddar, feta and provolone cheeses at the Fine Arts Café
-Spring salad mix at West Range Café; spring salad mix and baby spinach at the Garden Room
3. Humane. The humane criterion focuses on the treatment of animals that are consumed for food. Large-scale livestock operations, known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), raise their animals in confinement. Because all aspects of living – feeding, bodily functions, etc – take place within very concentrated areas, diseases and infections are common, and therefore so are antibiotic and hormone injections. These problems may filter up the food chain and reach humans upon our consumption of meat. Humane standards seek to ensure that livestock will be raised in a way that mimics their natural existence, and that the animals will thus not be exposed to undue stress or synthetic products.
Current Green Dining Actions: Humanely Raised Dining Purchases
-Free-range chicken at the Fine Arts Café
4. Fairly Traded. Certification verifies that international trade of agricultural products will benefit numerous farmers in developing countries throughout Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Fair Trade guarantees minimum floor pricing, fair labor conditions, direct trade and eliminating price-gouging middlemen. This practice also prohibits the use of GMOS, encourages a reduction in chemical use, and empowers its farmers to improve their communities’ infrastructure with the financial benefit that comes from fair trade prices. Products that may be Fair Trade Certified include coffee, tea, spices, chocolate, bananas and sugar.
Current Green Dining Actions: Fairly Traded Dining Purchases
-Chocolate at The Crossroads and cocoa for Starbucks’ specialty beverages
-Eco-Grounds coffee bar at the Fine Arts Café and other select retail locations
-Coffee at all residential dining rooms, Greenberry’s, Starbucks and Java City locations
-Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream at The Crossroads
-Select tea flavors at Java City and Starbucks locations