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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Student GardenSpring has sprung, and the world is mudlucious… a perfect condition in which to begin seasonal planting. Sustainable vegetation is a key component of organic living and college should be no exception. Not only do most institutions have the land to accommodate an on-campus garden, but they have the hands to make it work.

When the students themselves are responsible for maintaining their own garden, they will experience several benefits. Not only will they literally be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor, but they will feel accomplished in their agricultural successes and their ability to create and sustain positive ecological behaviors.

As Thoreau said of gardening near his notorious wooded cabin, “When my hoe tinkled against the stones, that music echoed to the woods and the sky, and was an accompaniment to my labor which yielded an instant and immeasurable crop. It was no longer beans that I hoed, nor I that hoed beans…” His point, if I may interpret it, is that the process, as with many things, has greater rewards than the reward itself.

At the start of the planting process, it’s important to consider four factors: Product, Placement, Need, and Treatment.

·         Product– Choose vegetables and herbs that are native to the area. Not only will they grow better, but it is healthier for the soil.

·         Placement– Be cautious of where you are planting your crops. Try not to clear out excess vegetation or destroy land in the process; that would negate what organic gardening is trying to accomplish. Gardeners should also keep an eye out for wetlands. These are largely protected and not particularly conducive to growing produce.

·         Need– Waste not. The size of your harvest should be relatively consistent with the number of students you are trying to feed. In some cases, a crop might supply food for the entire college community, but this is something that should be determined before the planting process, taking into consideration the rate of growth and loss.

·        Treatment– For gardening to be truly organic, it has to abide by a few basic rules. The produce must be grown using only animal or vegetable fertilizers, such as manure, bone meal, or compost. The garden must be maintained with little to know chemicals; a certain amount of pesticide is necessary to deal with species that threaten the life of your plants, but killing off ALL insects is not the answer. Insects contribute to the biodiversity of the garden’s ecosystem and to remove them would upset its balance… however, there are a few insects and other species that are accidentally introduced to areas by unnatural forces. These problems can be treated, but with products that cause the least environmental damage. GardensAlive.com  has a line of “environmentally responsible” products, and its not the only company on the market that specializes in green gardening.  Web surf for some safe alternatives.

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Health Food Wars!

When shopping for produce, not all fruits and veggies are created equal. Steer clear of the Dark Side by sticking to Organic Certified goods. This will weed out products that have been treated with hormones and pesticides and other toxic evils. There’s battle going on in your grocery aisle…which side are you on? 

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College students are notorious for their bad eating habits. Buffet-style dining leads us to consume large portions of less-than-healthy food. Most of us opt for the grab-and-go meals like pizza and burgers; more often than not because that’s what is provided for us. Academic institutions tend to buy in bulk because that is the most economical option, but these products are typically highly processed and have lost nutrients to the freezing process.  

beer1We are also late-night munchers: midnight pb&j’s, Chinese takeout, bags of Doritos that taste so much better in the wee hours of the morning.

And, for the majority of us, booze is a big factor in our eating habits and weight fluctuation. In one weekend evening, an individual can consume anywhere near 1200 calories in alcohol. At 110 calories a pop, even light beers can pack pounds onto your midsection. And to add insult to injury, a person has less dietary discretion when they’re intoxicated,  so they would be more likely to succumb to the infamous “drunk munchies.”  

The best defense against these nutrition no-nos is conscious eating: making deliberate decisions that contribute to natural health. This isn’t always the easiest option, but it will benefit you in the longrun. There are a few ways of taking the organic route:

  • foodVisit your local Farmer’s Markets- Locavorism benefits you, your economy, and your earth. Stay tuned for some more info on the many benefits of buying and eating in town.
  • Check out the Natural Food section at your grocery store- Some are bigger than others, but most have a decent selection of fresh produce and organic goods. Stock up on organic snacks so that you will be less likely to scarf down junk food. Some snacks might even be locally-grown or produced, so you can hit two birds with one stone (although Naturalists typically don’t condone animal cruelty!)
  • Grow your own vegetation- Talk to your college administration or Environmental programs about starting a community garden.  
  • Make special requests- Some resident dining services might support the idea of going organic, or at least featuring some natural selections. You’ll never know until you ask! Which leads to…
  • Ask questions- You can have a better idea of what your eating if you ask about ingredients and nutrition facts. If you stick to natural foods, you will typically consume less calories and better calories, which will keep you fuller longer and healthier over-all!

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