Mizzou Food Week teaches students benefits of healthy and sustainable eating

Campus Dining Services incorporates sustainability and student health needs.
Cait Campbell / Graphic Designer

The Environmental Leadership Office is teaming up with various organizations this week for Mizzou Food Week, which focuses on the sustainability and nutrition of food on campus.

Events include the Potluck Picnic and Popsicles for Tiger Pantry with Sustain Mizzou and the Campus Farmers Market and Food Fair.

The week revolves around Oct. 24, National Food Day, during which events take place nationwide to support healthy eating habits. The main issues of this national event are health and nutrition, hunger, agricultural policy, animal welfare and farm worker justice, according to the National Food Day website.

On Food Day, the Environmental Leadership Office will team up with Campus Dining Services from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Union to answer students' questions, discuss sustainability and provide locally grown snacks, including popcorn from a local farmer.

“We are going to (give an) overview and talk about different sustainability options on campus in relation with healthy eating,” CDS marketing specialist Michael Wuest said. “It’s to educate students about what’s going on on campus and what we’re doing. It also helps students make healthy decisions.”

The Food Day forum with a CDS executive chef will allow students to see how the dining halls and restaurants on campus benefit students, Wuest said.

“We hope students can see the things we’re doing and be proud of that,” he said. “There’s a lot of research that goes into it. We see what students want and bring that to campus.”

Students who participate in Food Week events can learn about where food comes from as well as its effects on the earth, Environmental Leadership Office adviser Ben Datema said.

“(Mizzou Food Week) is important because there are a lot of environmental impacts in producing food and consuming food,” he said. “It’s important to look at how it impacts students at Mizzou as well as the environment. There are lots of environmental impacts in growing and consuming food and a lot of nutritious impacts as well. If soil is not high quality, that can impact the nutrition of food.”

The changes in food and accessibility to food in the last several decades have affected how people think about food, Datema said.

“Food is a big deal,” Datema said. “Food has a lot of environmental impacts on a person’s life. Your diet can impact your health in a lot of substantial ways. Everyone eats every day, and food is a big part of people’s lives. There have been a lot of developments in processed food, and those have been both good and bad.”

College students face definite obstacles in terms of choosing the most nutritious foods on campus, Datema said.

“It’s tricky as college students because you’re running from class to class, and sometimes you have to grab the closest prepackaged snack,” he said. “But the campus dining halls do a great job with providing healthy options."

Though these obstacles exist, nutrition comes down to a matter of personal choice, which can be influenced by educating students about health and food choices, Wuest said.

“Food is sort of a comfort for a lot of students,” he said. “It’s easy to overindulge or under-indulge. It’s all personal choice. That’s kind of our motto. One person may see a high-protein diet as healthy while another person sees a vegetarian diet as healthy. The goal of this week is just to raise awareness of things going on on campus and promoting healthy eating.”

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