We might question every concept served up in our classes, but when it comes to our lunch plate, we tend to consume less critically.
Every day we sit down for a meal, but how many of us question the origins of its content?
On April 28, the source of ingredients were the center of attention at the second Farm to Fork luncheon at SF State. The Environmentally Conscious Organization of Students partnered with the Vista Room and other campus programs to bring locally grown meals to the campus community.
“We need people to be conscientious about where their food is coming from,” said Ivy Anderson, a member of ECO Students and co-founder of the event.
The produce, which went into the all-vegetarian menu, was purchased from farms within a 150-mile radius of campus.
“By being more conscientious about what we eat, we become more conscientious of the ecosystems we live in,” Anderson said. “And we learn the importance of caring for them.”
Fresh herbs came from elementary school gardens in the city, and yerba buena, or mint, was picked from the ground right here on campus and brewed into tea.
“There’s a lot of wasted energy to get produce from far away,” said Chris Albon, a senior majoring in geography who enjoyed his $13 meal in the quad. “It’s nice to support small family farms.”
A long line of hungry guests stretched out beneath the trees at the center of campus. Sunshine and strong winds brushed their backs as they were served by the students who run the Vista Room, a five-star restaurant on the fourth floor of Burk Hall.
Some of the dishes served at the event were walnut pesto with pasta from Berkeley; heirloom three-bean stew with beans from Napa; curry tofu with vegetables from Watsonville; and polenta with shiitake mushrooms from Santa Cruz.
“Everything is fresh from the farm,” said Joan Frank, the dietetics director and faculty adviser for the Vista Room.
Food preparation began at 7 a.m. that morning and 135 guests were served, said Yan Fei Ng, who is the Vista Room manager and a student in the dietetics program.
“It’s different than what we usually serve,” she said. “It brought more awareness of locally grown food.”
Last semester was the first Farm to Fork event and the Vista Room handled the gathering of ingredients.
This semester, Anderson and co-founder, Davin Wentworth-Thrasher, spent the week leading up to the eat-in meeting farmers and placing orders at farmers’ markets throughout the city.
The day before the event, the organizers loaded up crates of produce and delivered them to the Vista Room, where the raw ingredients were turned into gourmet dishes and desserts.
“It was a risky process,” Anderson said. “It was kind of Iron-Chef style.”
The idea for the eat-in came to Anderson, an environmental studies major, after taking a class on agriculture and food supply where she learned about the economic and environmental sustainability of local produce.
“Eating is a daily opportunity to be engaged in community activism,” Anderson said. “When you’re eating locally you’re building an economy around a place you know and care about.”