We have CSAs!

So thanks to a huge amount of work by our friends at the Vassar Food Cooperative, there’s now a CSA (community supported agriculture) program at Vassar for the last six weeks of the semester!  You pay a lump sum up front ($138 for six weeks of produce, $168 for produce plus cheese, or $42 for six weeks of just specialty cheese) from Sprout Creek Farm.  If you have four other housemates, the shares break down to be super affordable- the produce and cheese share is only $5.60 per person per week!  It gets delivered right to the college every week, and you get a ton of local food.

Here’s the catch:  we need ten more people to sign up by the end of the day today in order to break even.  We need your support!  Talk to your friends and your housemates about signing up- the first delivery day is March 28th, so you’ll get to come back from break with a house full of good local produce!  Email getoland@vassar.edu to sign up!

Would you buy ‘imperfect’ fruit?

Tonight’s article is from the Grist talking about selling ‘sub-standard’ apples for cheaper.  This is an excellent way to both cut down on food waste and to make good, fresh produce more affordable.  Food waste in America is embarrassing- one 2004 study estimates that we waste 40-50% of our food.  One of the many reasons for this lies in grocery stores’ reluctance to sell ‘imperfect’ produce– not spoiled or old, but imperfect produce- for example, peaches that are too small or apples that have a smaller than desirable proportion of red to green coloring.  Seriously.

A consequence of this perfectionist view, though, is that we’re drastically reducing the amount of food that we consider fit for grocery store consumption, where most of the country gets its fruit.  And by doing that, we’re driving up produce prices.  The company in this article works with suppliers and grocery stores to create a supply of cheaper, imperfect produce– food that’s still fit for consumption, of course, but that’s not as pretty as the standard we’ve set.

So what do you think?  Would you buy imperfect produce if it was cheaper?  Do you think this is a viable business model?  Come to the faculty commons tonight at 8:30 pm to discuss it!

Welcome back!


Hopefully your Thanksgiving breaks were filled with delicious food and drink- come have more yummy treats at Slow Food tonight at 8 in the Faculty Commons!

We have a number of fun events coming up- we’re working with the Quidditch Team on the Yule Ball, we’re going to be helping out with Tappy Holidays, and we’ve got about 90 lbs of pumpkin purée at our disposal.  Tonight we’re going to be talking about Sysco’s efforts to improve their food sourcing– how do you think that their ban on pig gestation crates is going to change our food landscape?  Can good things indeed come from Sysco?  Come share your thoughts!

Food Day 2012

Food Day was a resounding success- with soups from the Retreat and challah from Challah for Hunger, we were well fed as we talked about the food issues in and around Vassar.  We heard from Susan Grove with the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, which has recently completed a survey on food security in the City of Poughkeepsie.  The results are sobering- today, one in four households in Poughkeepsie are food insecure.  So how do we go about effecting change in our own neighbourhood?  Volunteering with the PFP is an excellent way to get involved- Vassar students have the potential to be a powerful force for good in our community!

We also heard from Ken Oldehoff, the Director of Marketing and Sustainability for Campus Dining.  He’s been with the College for 32 years, and gave us a history of sustainability at campus dining through the years.  We’re lucky to have someone as experienced and knowledgeable as him working for better food at Vassar!

We then broke into focus groups to talk about what students can do- we talked about creating a CSA integrated into senior housing, making Poughkeepsie Farm Project information more accessible to students, and advocating for healthier foodservice options through our foodservice provider, Aramark.

Hopefully this won’t be the end of the discussion- we at Slow Food are looking to make sure that these collaborative efforts will continue throughout the semester and the year.  After all, it’s better when you work together- and our fellow sustainability orgs are formidable allies!

*Thanks to the Office of Sustainability for the photo

Ever thought about…

becoming a farmer?

Image courtesy of boston.com


Because despite all of these crazy subsidies for big agribusiness, and despite the fact that farming is hard (if joyful) work, there are people around the country working hard to ensure that there is a new generation of farmers that will work the land sustainably and knowledgeably.

That link takes you to an interview with a student at the University of Vermont’s Farmer Training program- it’s a six-month intensive course that provides a basic foundation for farmers just starting out.  It may just make you want to go out there and enroll yourself!  Or, at the very least, help out at the Vassar Experimental Garden for their community hours on Saturdays!

Come to Food Day!


This is a busy week for Slow Food Vassar- as you may have seen on our facebook or twitter, we’re helping to sponsor Vassar’s celebration of National Food Day!  We’re having dinner and discussion in the Faculty Commons from 5-7.  Come discuss what your vision of a sustainable food system looks like- we’re having a panel including representatives from Campus Dining and the Poughkeepsie Farm Project– over soup and challah (from Challah for Hunger)!  Then stay for the discussion about how we can take action to improve our local food system.

Later in the week, Pumpkin Patch is going to be making a pilgrimage to its namesake this weekend!  Email vassar@slowfood.org or get in contact with Evie if you’re interested.  It’s going to be a great time!

So what is Proposition 37?




This evening at the Slow Food Vassar meeting (8 pm in the faculty commons!) we’re going to be taking a look at proposition 37.  But what is proposition 37, exactly?

Proposition 37, or the “Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative,” would require labels on any food that contained plant or animal material that had been genetically modified in certain ways.  There are exemptions- alcoholic beverages are exempt, as are certified organic products, foods containing very small amounts of GMO material, and food served at restaurants.

A huge amount of money is in this fight- supporters of the proposition have raised $3.8 million, while opponents have raised $32.5 million (with $7.1 million donated from Monsanto alone*).  Supporters say that we have the right to know what’s in our food, while detractors argue that it will harm industry and create grounds for frivolous lawsuits.

So what do you think?  Come to our meeting tonight and discuss prop 37 (and eat some freshly-baked and non-GMO brownies)!


*All numbers and campaign contribution reports come from ballotpedia– it has a nice if cursory summary of the money behind prop 37.


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