A new potential food source on campus: Skidmore College investigates the Community Supported Agriculture Program

Posted by Mohannad Aljawamis

Riley Neugebauer, Sustainability Coordinator at Skidmore College, has recently introduced the Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA), an idea based around introducing healthy, local food products to Skidmore. The program would be implemented this upcoming fall with the help of students in the Marketing department and other departments, who are interested in fresh, sustainable produce.

The CSA Program involves three local farmers who would provide food packages to be picked up by the program participants on a weekly basis. The packages would include fresh produce such as vegetables, fruits, eggs and cheese.

The program supports a sustainable food production system by limiting farmers' travel within a local sphere, effectively cutting farmers' gas costs and emissions.

The health benefits and ecological benefits of purchasing locally-produced products are significant. Presently, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of where their food is coming from and how healthy it is. Previously, the concept of convenience diverted the focus on food from nutritional value to ease of access and preparation, as well as price and taste. Thus, a place like Wal-Mart can easily sell food to millions of people with a limited budget, such as those affected by the recent economic recession and college students without much consideration of where their products were coming from or how they were grown and treated.

However, studies have shown that the market demand for local organic products is growing rapidly. There is a good chance that the CSA program will have a big success at the College, where the availability of healthy food items is currently somewhat limited.

Typically, college students are busy with their workload and extracurricular activities and often do not have time to invest in searching for and preparing healthy meals. They can easily turn to fast food and instant meals without second thought. But such food items contain many preservatives, as well as considerable quantities of salt and saturated fat. Saturated fat can clog arteries and increase risk of heart disease. Additionally, many products may include high amounts of sugar even if they are labeled as "light" or "low" in calories.

A well-balanced meal contains about two and a half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruits. Vegetables and fruits contain low calories and fat but provide plenty of vitamins and minerals that the human body needs, as well as antioxidants that protect the body and boost immunity and fiber that regulates the digestive system.

Additionally, vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and peanut butter provide the body with unsaturated fat, which is the healthy form of fat that cleans clogged arteries and lowers cholesterol when consumed in appropriate quantities.

The CSA program will target upperclassmen who live in apartments or houses and may not always have easy access to vegetables and fruits. There will always be unhealthy elements to the student diet, especially when it is so easy to occasionally rely on unhealthy fast food for convenience. However, the availability of a bag of fresh produce can help balance this diet and keep students healthy. 

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