Farm to Fork delivers with local sustainable food

Students and members of the San Francisco community enjoyed a mix of tangy grapefruit wedges and crisp beets folded into a medley of fresh organic greens as one of the sustainable dishes served at the 6th Annual Farm to Fork lunch April 16.

The luncheon was held outdoor at the main quad and was co-hosted by the Office of Sustainability and Chartwells, the food service provider behind the on-campus dining centers at SF State.

Farm to Fork centered on both sustainability and community building, according to Caitlin Steele, SF State’s director of sustainability and energy.

“(The event is about) getting everyone to come out of their office and classroom to come and sit together to take a break from our busy schedules and connect with each other,” Steele said.

Food is being served at the Farm to Fork event by the Office of Sustainability and Chartwells in the Quad on Thursday April 16. (Marlene Sanchez / Xpress)

Food is being served at the Farm to Fork event by the Office of Sustainability and Chartwells in the Quad on Thursday April 16. (Marlene Sanchez / Xpress)

Popularity of the event has increased this year with 275 tickets sold, according to Steele, who said there were about 230 tickets sold last year.

The meal prepared by Chartwells featured organic, local produce grown within 250 miles of campus.

Christina Yan, the director of marketing and guest experience at Chartwells, said the company regularly works with several different farmers to source food as locally as possible.

“We are really proud to support the local community of farmers,” Yan said. “It’s great that events like this introduce different foods into people’s diets that they may otherwise never try themselves.”

Chartwells used produce like mushrooms as a meat substitute in order to eliminate meat from the menu.

“Our vegan meals are enjoyed by everyone,” Yan said. “We chose vegan to be inclusive of everyone and to show that you can have a full, filling meal without meat.”

The vegan cuisine at the event was a change of pace for political science major Jamie Murillo, who said he typically eats meat two to three times per day.

“I’m a carnivore,” Murillo said. “It was a different experience and I think it was very delicious.”

Chartwells’ executive chef Don Cortes, who created the menu from his original recipes, said he wanted to put a unique spin on something very familiar to everyone attending. He chose to serve a modern take on tacos inspired by seasonal produce.

“I look for what is available and in season when I design the menu,” Cortes said. “I wanted to make sure that it is approachable, because I want people to use more sustainable, local products and apply it to what they can do at home.”

Cortes said students should learn about the seasonality of produce and be aware of sustainable foods that are readily available.

Employees of The Office of Sustainability and Chartwells employees prepare for the Farm to Fork event in the Quad Thursday, April 16.  (Marlene Sanchez / Xpress)

Employees of The Office of Sustainability and Chartwells employees prepare for the Farm to Fork event in the Quad Thursday, April 16. (Marlene Sanchez / Xpress)

At the lunch, SF State President Leslie E. Wong said the meal was thought-provoking.

“It really got me thinking that this is a way to show people you can get really flavorful food in vegetarian menus,” Wong said. “You can do some clever things to reduce your carbon foot print and yet eat well and stuff yourself.”

Associate Students, Inc. Vice President of University Affairs Celia LoBuono Gonzalez sits on the Sustainability Committee at SF State. She utilizes sustainable food sources and said she thinks people are too disconnected with how the food they eat gets to their plates.

“Events like Farm to Fork are important because they help bring awareness to the lack of transparency in our current food system and speak to some of the other problems our food system is causing as well as solutions that each of us can be part of,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzales said she wishes students knew their food choices impact both the longevity of their bodies and the earth.

“Every time we purchase and eat something we are making a choice for how we want the world to be,” Gonzalez said.

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