Socially conscious college students are demanding organic meal plans at campuses around the world.
Are You a LOHAS?
Maybe you're not one for labels, but if you're interested in a "Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability," you're part of a new and closely observed demographic model. As more individuals choose to examine every link in the food chain, sales of organic food products continue to rise at a higher rate than conventional foods - sometimes by as much as 15 percent per year.
Obviously, the voice of the LOHAS nation is being heard. Colleges and universities, always proponents of forward thinking, have to keep up with this growing segment of the population.
Progressive Institutions with Organic Meal Plans
A preferred major and cost of tuition are still the primary elements to college selection. However, as more students take control of their health and lifestyle, what simmers in the cafeteria has a great impact on the final decision.
Approximately 200 institutions have some type of organic venture in place, and each fills a special niche. Even more encouraging is that most ideas go far beyond what's offered on the daily menu. Here are some notable leaders of higher education championing the serving of the green.
- Maharishi University of Management - Fairfield, Iowa
This university was the first in the United States to have an all-vegetarian, organic meal plan. The university obtains all its dairy products from a local organic farm, and it uses organic flour in all baked goods. MUM has also pioneered a sustainable living degree program.
- University of Colorado at Boulder
At its "grab and go" cafeteria Piazanos, opened in 2006, the university caters to those in the campus community looking for 100 percent natural and primarily organic food and beverage selections. The main attraction is food that is well prepared, but CU also has a sustainable foods campaign coordinator and an environmental center.
- Hendrix College - Conway, Arkansas
More than 20 years ago, the institution established a "farm-to-college" local exchange to supply the cafeteria with organic products. Today, approximately 30 percent of the food used at Hendrix is organic. The college also has a strong focus on green chemistry.
- University of California at Berkeley
In 2006, UC Berkeley became the first major university in the U.S. with a certified-organic cafeteria. By the end of 2007, the conversion of all the dining halls on campus is expected. The premier hall, Crossroads, is also a model of sustainability in design and function, featuring low-flow water faucets, energy-efficient lighting systems, recycled food scraps turned into compost, and all excess food is donated to homeless shelters.
- Brown University - Providence, Rhode Island
The university has an innovative program called Community Harvest, which centers on obtaining as much locally- and organically-produced product as possible. The effort also deals with fair-trade goods such as tea, coffee, and chocolate. The program has an additional arm, After the Harvest, which provides food overflow to the area's at-risk children.
Changes in the Workplace
Organic meal plans aren't just for students, and not all people will suffer food shock at their first job after college. Many companies interested in sustainability feature organic and locally-grown menus in the company cafeterias. For the majority of these companies, this isn't a passing fad, but an integral part of their culture and a means by which to keep top employees. A few popular corporations include: