CWRU chefs participate in Eat Local Challenge


For the sixth year, CWRU participated in the Eat local challenge, an event revolving around making meals from scratch with ingredients that come from within 150 miles of the kitchen.

Mike Yavorsky, Staff Reporter

This past Tuesday Chefs at Case Western Reserve University joined over 400 other Bon Appétit restaurants and cafes in the Eat Local Challenge, an event that revolves around meals made from scratch with ingredients that come from with 150 miles of the kitchen. This is the sixth year that CWRU has participated, with the goal of showcasing the flavor, freshness, and availability of locally grown food.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, food in the United States travels 25 percent further than it did a decade ago. The Eat Local Challenge has been designed to prove that the meals CWRU students eat every day can be replaced with food from within the community. The challenge expands upon Bon Appétit’s Farm to Fork program, which is a company-wide initiative to make the first choice for buying seasonal and regional produce local farms within 150 miles. Both programs have been instated in support reducing the environmental impact of food products.

“The Eat Local Challenge draws attention to the impacts of eating food produced close to campus,” said Alex Litofsky, a member of the Student Sustainability Council. “Buying and consuming food produced nearby means that less energy is required to ship food, and conserving energy is an important part of Case Western’s environmental responsibilities.”

With the average food product traveling about 1500 miles to get to the grocery store, and transportation for that food emitting 30,800 tons of greenhouse gas every year, Bon Appétit is keenly aware of their possible negative environmental impact.

“Our Eat Local Challenge aligns with Case Western’s green initiatives by reducing waste and carbon emissions,” said Beth Kretschmar, marketing manager for Bon Appétit Management Co. “By purchasing locally, our products travel shorter distances and fresh local products cut down on can waste.” In addition to the environmental benefits, buying locally can support farmers that are a part of the same community.

In Oct. 2009, the University Farm began The Farm Food Program, which is an initiative to grow produce at the Farm for use in university dining areas. To support local establishments, the program obtained seeds and supplies from vendors in the area. Fresh vegetables have been delivered weekly since March of this year.

“Buying local food also supports our local economy, a social responsibility that CWRU has to the community in which we live, and a mutually beneficial relationship,” added Litofsky. “The Challenge, like many of CWRU’s sustainability campaigns, is all about establishing environmentally-conscious habits.”

Kretschmar agreed, stating, “Eat Local Challenge day is important to local farmers and our campus because it helps to educate our guests and students about the importance of purchasing locally. By purchasing locally, you can support the farmers in our community, local products are fresher and just taste better period.”

While the university continues to advance its green initiatives, the Eat Local Challenge remains a once yearly event. But for now at least, students looking to maintain a conservation-minded diet with the least environmental impact can be assured that Bon Appétit is moving in a greener direction.