Our food system is broken. From food riots abroad, to rising rates of diabetes and obesity at home; from the carbon emitted by agriculture to the human rights abuses in the fields; it's clear our food system is in need of major change. Government and big business have failed to step up to the challenge, with business-as-usual prevailing over the health of our bodies, our communities, and the Earth.
What We Can Do.
Colleges and universities spend over $4 billion each year on food. This figure represents a significant portion of the national food system - one that young people can directly influence.
Students are making a difference! There is a growing movement of college students working to address food issues on campus. At least 300 institutions already have college farms, fair trade initiatives, or farm-to-cafeteria programs, and the number is growing every day.
If we act together we can amplify our voice and our power. Real change will come from the grassroots and students can lead the way.
But, What is "Real" Food?
Real Food is a holistic term we're using to bring together a lot of different ideas people have about just and sustainable food.
We're talking about food that is ethically produced, with fair treatment of workers, equitable relationships with farmers (locally and abroad), and humanely treated animals. It's food that is environmentally sustainable, grown without chemical pesticides, large-scale mono-cropping, or huge carbon footprints. Real Food is food that is healthy, tastes good, builds community, and has the potential to inspire broad-scale social change.
You can call it "green" or fresh, "local" or "organic." But we're talking about more than supermarket labels. That's why we think about Real Food in the context of our entire food system, from farm to plate as food that truly nourishes people, communities, and the earth.
In practice, we have broken down real food into 4 categories: community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and humane. Real Food, in turn, nourishes producers, consumers, communities, and the Earth.
Information courtesy Real Food Challenge.
UC Irvine's Real Food
Recently, the Real Food Challenge goal of 20% "real" food by 2020 was adopted by the entire UC system. You can find out more about the UC system new food policy, or learn about the Real Food Working Group being organized by the UCI RFC chapter that aims at outlining exactly how UC Irvine will get to 20% real food by 2020.