Student petitions for locally grown food

Lesli Marchese, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor

According to the Worldwatch Institute, food travels 1,500 miles on average from farm to consumer. It is statistics like this that have urged senior Andrew Windham to take a stand.

On Oct. 7, Windham began a petition on for “A Reformation of Berry College’s Food System.”

The petition calls for a more localized approach to the food served on Berry’s campus.

“The best way to ensure that we are consuming nutrient dense, organically and ethically grown food is to produce it ourselves,” Windham, an environmental science major who plans on becoming an organic farmer, wrote in the petition.

“By the end of summer semester 2015, we would like to see Berry producing a constant 10 percent of our own food,” Windham continues. “Following this accomplishment, we would like to see that number raised to at least 25 percent in the following year.”

Windham wants to raise awareness for the Berry community about the positive effects of eating locally-sourced food.

“There are so many benefits to eating good food,” Windham said. “I want this [petition] to be a positive action for the Berry community… to show administration how many students are interested in the source of their food.”

Berry was listed in “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 332 Green Colleges,” which is a yearly review of the nation’s most sustainable and environmentally friendly college campuses.

“Sustainability is something that the whole Berry community is interested in,” Windham said. “I believe that Berry could be on the cutting edge of this movement and could set the example for other schools.”

Windham traveled with the student enterprise department to Warren Wilson College in North Carolina over the summer. Warren Wilson grows 90 percent of their own food on campus, but with a couple hundred acres of land at their disposal.

“We have 26,000 acres and all the existing infrastructure for making our own food,” Windham said. “Really, I just want this to be an eye-opener for the Berry community as a whole as to how many people could benefit from a change in the way we produce our food.”

One of the major ways that the college can continue to increase its sustainability efforts is serving more locally-sourced food on campus. Season’s Harvest, a student enterprise at Berry, is committed to providing healthy, local produce and reducing our collective carbon footprint. However, many students, faculty and staff would like to see more local produce served by on-campus food services.

“I would love to have local produce,” freshman Mary Catherine Iversen said. “It is much better for the environment … and for everyone involved.”

Windham said he believes that the numerous pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and other chemicals found in processed foods are the leading cause of allergens, gastrointestinal problems, gluten intolerance and other health issues.

“When people eat processed mashed potatoes with processed chicken nuggets there’s no nutrient density to that food,” Windham said. “I believe food shouldn’t be the cause of problems, but should be treated as more of a medicine.”

There are students at Berry that believe the food system could use some improvement.

“We’re not starving to death,” freshman Jordan Tipton said. “But there’s a lot of room for improvement.”

Windham believes that an overall change to Berry’s food services towards a more sustainable, locally-sourced approach would be a great public relations investment for the college.

“I think it would be an all-around good investment not just for the health of the students, but for the image that Berry conveys as well,” Windham said. 

The petition can be found on

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