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Photo courtesy of Real Food BC / Facebook

Undergrad Gardeners Insist On 'Real Food' in Dining Halls

When it comes to student activism on campus, Real Food BC brings a new flavor to the way we think about sustainable dining.

After its initiation at Yale’s Real Food Summit in 2007 with the signing of an intercollegiate pledge, Boston College joined 30 other northeastern universities in vowing to promote sustainable dining practices on campus. Thus, Real Food BC was born: a club aiming to raise student awareness on the importance of ensuring that our food is organic, fair trade, local, sustainable, and, of course, real.

“Our goals have been to create awareness about all issues related to sustainable food on campus, including holding a farmer’s market in the spring and updating dining hall options,” says board member Emma Howe, MCAS ‘18. “We also do work to celebrate and cultivate the organic garden we have over at the Brighton Campus.”

15458_379774048840924_2855758192374537625_nEach Sunday during growing season, Real Food BC members make the trek to Brighton to tend, water, and harvest their fresh herbs and veggies. Although the members are able to take home the foods they help grow, these homegrown goods are also put to use at the club’s community events--most recently, a Valentine’s Day dinner called “Rooted in Love.”

“We all created healthy, chemical-free, ‘red’ themed dinner options, such as red lentil curry, three-bean chili, and strawberry bruschetta,” says Howe. “It was a huge success! People seemed to love the food, and we also showed the TED Talk by Dan Barber, ‘How I Fell in Love with a Fish,’ to spread our Valentine’s Day message of love and sustainability.”

This dinner, among others that the group has put on--like one at Thanksgiving--was inspired by the club’s goal of highlighting the importance of organic, “family style” dinners. The club hosts cooking classes as a further extension of this goal.

Arguably the most significant change that Real Food BC has made, however, is the creation of The Loft at Addie’s in the Lower Dining Hall. One of the most beloved on-campus eateries, Addie’s provides BC students with a wide variety of locally-sourced and sustainable food options.

“I love to cook,” says Howe, “and since I’m a vegetarian, I long to have access to healthy, organic food. It’s very important to me.”

In this concern, Howe is certainly not alone; BC’s vegetarian and vegan populations do not always have access to the same variety of fresh, real food options within their dietary restrictions. Real Food BC hopes to help bridge this gap through their relationship with BC Dining services.

The club’s primary long-term goal, as stated on their Facebook page, is “to get 20% of the BC dining hall budget dedicated to purchasing local and sustainable foods.” Working hand in hand with BC Dining, the Real Food BC team has already covered ground with the creation of Addie’s, and it hopes to keep its mission alive as it works to get the message out on campus.

And the club members’ hard work has made some real progress--the student body has begun to engage in more conversations about dining options and healthy, organic foods. The debut of the “superfruit” açaí bowls and the new “Healthy Late Night” section in McElroy have become topics of small talk among students. Even casual discussions like these can be crucial to the progression of Real Food BC’s on-campus goals.

This shift in the way college students think about their food, though seemingly insignificant, is good news for ‘real foodies’ everywhere; it means that change in regards to the quality of the foods we eat is perpetual. This community of sustainability-conscious students has become more present than ever on BC’s campus, and, in the words of Howe, the club is always willing to accept fellow foodies “with open arms.”

On-campus dining is one of the most important parts of life for college students everywhere. Thanks to Real Food BC, where student activism meets sustainability, we can be sure that the food we’re fighting for is as real as it gets.

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My parents live in Mississippi, but I live in the moment. Texting in all lowercase letters is my aesthetic. I probably eat too many mozz sticks and listen to too much Drake.