Our goal is to have the most sustainable dining operation. We cook our meals from scratch, using any leftover ingredients in new dishes. We work with local farms who can give us animal welfare certifications, instead of huge factories. We are proud of our work with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and their Seafood Watch program to ensure we provide sustainably sourced seafood options. We work with our sustainability office to promote reusable to go containers and cups instead of single use packaging, like plastic water bottles.
Our plant-forward menus also offer an exciting and delicious path towards sustainability. Try out a Green Monday, where you don’t eat any meat for at least one day of the week. You’ll be surprised at how tasty it can be. When we do use meat, it is part of a well-balanced meal, rather than the only focus of the dish.
All our sustainability efforts can be categorized as SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). This ensures that we have a direct way of determining our targets, implementing new ideas, and measuring success. Doing so makes it easier to keep up with new and exciting sustainability campaigns all over campus.
Choosing food grown nearby can have a profound impact on your tastebuds, your health, and your community. Local food is such a “foodie” fad now, it’s easy to forget all the other social and economic reasons why it is such an important movement:
Better taste: Food grown in your own community was probably picked within the past day or two. It’s crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Several studies have shown that supermarket produce travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to plate. In a week-long (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality and flavor.
More nutritious: Fresh produce is highest in nutrients just after harvest; it then begins to lose nutrients quickly. Food that is frozen or canned soon after harvest is actually more nutritious than some “fresh” produce that has been on the truck or supermarket shelf for a week.
Encourages bio-diversity: In the modern industrial agricultural system, varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously and withstand harvesting equipment; for a tough skin that can survive packing and shipping; and for an ability to have a long shelf life in the store. Local farms, in contrast, grow a huge number of varieties to provide the best flavors, a long season of harvest, and an array of eye-catching colors.
Supports local farm families: With fewer than one million Americans now claiming farming as their primary occupation, farmers are a vanishing breed. And no wonder – the farmer now gets less than 10 cents of the retail food dollar. When you buy direct from the farmer, you are re-establishing a time-honored connection. Knowing local farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the weather, and the miracle of raising food.
Preserves open space: As the value of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables increases, selling farmland for development becomes less likely. You have probably enjoyed driving out into the country and appreciated the lush fields of crops, the meadows full of wildflowers, the picturesque red barns. That landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable.
Supports the local economy: Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas suburban development costs more than it generates in taxes, according to several studies.
Protects the environment and benefits wildlife: A well-managed family farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued. Good stewards of the land grow cover crops to prevent erosion and replace nutrients used by their crops. Cover crops also capture carbon emissions and help combat global warming. In addition, the patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings is the perfect environment for many beloved species of wildlife.
Reusing is pretty much always better than single items, even when lifecycle costs are factored in. Reusables often save money over time, despite larger upfront costs. It goes without saying, the more times something is reused, the more money and resources are saved!
In order for the eco2go program to be successful in the long run, the boxes must be returned and reused as many times as possible. Eco2go boxes can be used 1000 times before needing to be replaced. But they need to be used AT LEAST 30 times to offset the production and transportation costs compared to a disposable box.
Eco2go is currently a free opt-in program. We encourage you to opt in, but emphasize the importance of being a responsible program participant. Prompt, honor-system returns will ensure this program can continue – through the pandemic and beyond!
Here’s how it works:
- REQUEST – Request a REUSABLE eco2go container from a dining associate or through Grubhub
- RETURN – Return the REUSABLE eco2go container to the designated bins located in all dining facilities. Do NOT throw in the waste or recycling.
- REPEAT – Repeat every time you dine!
Your Dining Services believes that we can change the food system to reduce animal suffering. Our purchasing philosophy when it comes to animal products is three-tiered: We believe in supporting small farms, rewarding responsible mid-size ones, and using our market power to influence the big producers to improve their practices.
We have led our industry in our early and detailed commitments to sourcing more humanely raised meat, poultry, and eggs:
- Our contracted pork comes from sows that live in group housing, not inhumane gestation crates, for over 90% of their pregnancies. In 2019, we notified our supplier that we require full elimination of the use of gestation crates by the end of 2021. It already limits its use of farrowing crates to the period before piglets are weaned, and is testing more humane farrowing practices and environments. Since 2016, our pork has come from animals never given antibiotics or growth promoters.
- Our ground beef is humanely raised (since 2012).
- No foie gras or crate-raised veal (since 2012).
- Eggs are certified cage-free (shell eggs since 2005, and precracked/liquid eggs on track for mid-2016).
- Turkey and chicken are raised without routine antibiotics (since 2003).
- Milk and yogurt come from cows not treated with rBGH (since 2003).
- Vegetarian/vegan options offered every meal day (always).
Commit to Green Monday to help save water and energy by eating vegetarian at least one ca week. We offer a delicious variety of plant-based options every day. Start your week off green! You can take the pledge at sustainability.wustl.edu.