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Eat sustainably, live sustainably

Eat SustainablyThe 2013-2014 year has already seen a great deal of new activity at the intersection of sustainability and food. One Book, One Northwestern’s selection for the year, “The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change” by Roger Thurow, chronicles a year in the life of four small-scale farmers in western Kenya who begin to transcend their lives of cyclical poverty and hunger with the help of a social enterprise organization founded by a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management. One Book, One Northwestern has been hosting lectures, films, and discussion groups as an opportunity for individuals to gather and talk about the issues presented in the The Last Hunger Season.

More recently NU Wild RootsNU Food TalksNU Veg SocietyCampus KitchensSpoon magazineNUCuisine, and several other groups worked together to make Food Day 2013 a big success. Food Day, celebrated on October 24, is an effort to promote better food policies. Northwestern’s campaign demonstrated a commitment to healthy food that serves the environment, animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and consume it, on both the local and the national level. NU’s Food Day was spearheaded by junior Christine Gou, senior Soad Mana, and community member Molly Abbattista.

Several events and programs took place in celebration of Food Day, including a food access panel featuring Policy Coordinator for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Jody Blaylock; Project Coordinator of Urban Initiative for Angelic Organics, Anton Seals Jr.; Market Manger for 61st Street Farmer's Market, Danny Burke; and Public Affairs Director for the USDA Food and Nutrition Service's Midwest Region, Alan Shannon. Also included in Food Day festivities were a gardening workshop, a Faith, Food, and Sustainability discussion, and a farmers market at the Rock. Lastly, Food day volunteers made and donated peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to local food kitchens with the help of Campus Kitchens.

More tangibly, the campus dining service, NUCuisine, makes healthy and sustainable food a priority. “By supporting sustainable foods and local farmers we are not only bringing a great product to our campus dining program but we are also bringing awareness and education to a student base that has the ability to take the real food movement to a whole new level, “ stated Sodexo Resident district manager, Steve Mangan.

The student gardens, NU Wild Roots and Plant it Purple, both host workdays during the planting and harvesting season, while NU Food Talks will host monthly potlucks and panel discussions with the mission of strengthening NU’s and Evanston’s sustainable food systems network, and Campus Kitchens is always looking for volunteers.  

The Brady Scholars class of 2013 dedicated their senior project to working with the Evanston non-profit organization, New Leaf Urban Gardens (NLUG), which mentors at-risk youth and creates employment opportunities for ex-offenders through urban gardening and farming. The scholars planted 20 fruit trees and raspberry and hazelnuts bushes at Eggelston Park at McCormick Boulevard and Bridge Street in Evanston.

They also planted a vegetable garden on NU’s campus located at the Institute for Policy Research at 2046 Sheridan Road. They constructed twelve 2’ x 10’ garden boxes, filled them with compost, and planted beets, lettuce, green beans, and tomato seeds. The Brady Scholars class of 2014 is working to complete the construction of hoop house’s to go on top of the garden boxes to extend the growing season and prevent animals from destroying the crops.

Be sure to check out these organizations and get involved in programs to keep NU’s food movement alive and thriving.