STAFF EDITORIAL: Locally grown food on campus would be healthier, beneficial to local economy

Herald Staff

THE ISSUE: Many students might prefer to eat locally grown food, but it’s scarce on campus.

OUR STANCE: Offering more locally-grown food on campus would come with several positive effects, and the WKU Restaurant and Catering Group should be open to doing so.

While WKU has reached a high point in advancing the quality of campus life – state-of-the-art technology, energy-saving buildings, multimillion-dollar construction projects – it’s lagging behind in a simpler field: healthier food options.

In the past, students expressed concerns about not being able to buy certain things, such as fruit cups or yogurt, with meals plans. Additionally, when healthier options are available, they often cost more than students can comfortably pay for only one serving (Einstein Bros., anyone?).

But student groups like GreenToppers are pushing for more locally grown foods to be offered regularly on campus. With more than 5 million acres of harvested cropland in Kentucky (USDA Census of Agriculture, 2007), the university has a lot to choose from.

Not only would it support local farmers and strengthen the commonwealth’s economy, but it would also provide more nutritional benefits than factory-produced foods, which may be affected by pesticides or other chemicals in larger amounts.

And it would also give students the right to choose what goes into their bodies.

According to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, small farms, even when not organic, usually use pesticides more sparingly than factory farms.

The center’s data also states that consumers were willing to pay 10 to 30 percent more for food labeled as locally or regionally grown, citing that it had a fresher taste.

Aside from promoting better health, buying locally eliminates large delivery trucks that travel great distances, emitting more fuels and smoke into the atmosphere.

Administrators should support the student groups who are soliciting locally-grown foods on campus. Local farmers can be contracted with the university, and it doesn’t get more local than the University Farm, just a few miles down the road.

Buying foods grown on the 780-acre farm would give agriculture students more experience in the physical and business sides of farming. WKU could also host a monthly farmer’s market on campus or establish a locally grown produce section in the Bate Shop for students to have convenient access.

Though locally grown foods may take more effort and money to provide than factory-produced foods, it’s not impossible. And when students have a voice in what they consume, as well as more nutritious options, the effort is worth every penny.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member editorial board.