Real Food for Macalester!

By Adinah Zilton

Hegemony. Multiculturalism. Sustainability. We all hear these words thrown around frequently at Mac. I grew up hearing stories from my great-grandparents about their struggles and successes during the civil rights movement, so I’ve known from quite a young age how systemic racism is a powerful force in our society. Like others, part of the reason I came to Mac was because multiculturalism is one of the famous pillars of the school. However, I had no idea sustainability was an issue. To put it into a quite shameful perspective: I never heard of Whole Foods until I came to Mac. I hadn’t gone to a farmer’s market until last semester. Last Saturday, my thoughts surrounding food completely evolved. Food Roots, a pretty rad org on campus, brought in Katie Blanchard, a speaker from Real Food Challenge to talk with fellow students about campaign organizing, using her own experiences in the Challenge as a foundation for discussion. The Real Food Challenge is a national campaign program under the nonprofit The Food Project, Inc. Its mission is to make “colleges and universities pledge to buy 20 percent real food by 2020.” How exactly does this process happen? Student organizers ask presidents to sign a “Real Food Commitment Pledge.” But what is “real food?” Real food is community-based, fair, humane and sustainable. They even have a calculator to figure out exactly how much of it we have. If started at Mac, this commitment wouldn’t just be about getting Mac students a healthier range of food at Café Mac. It would be about fostering more relationships with community farmers. Farmers with low living wages are obviously a prevalent problem. This is our chance as Macalester students to make change on issues of social justice surrounding food resources and sustainability, starting first with our immediate community. In fact, the leaders of Food Roots are planning to ask President Rosenberg and Kimberly Driesch, the manager of Café Mac, to sign the commitment in May. As someone who is not on any meal plan, I personally would feel more inclined to use the services of Café Mac if I knew more of the food was “real.” You don’t have to be a hippie food activist to support the Real Food Commitment. As long as you’re a real food and fair trade lover, feel free to hop on board! Still not convinced? Don’t worry, there will be plenty of events on campus this upcoming semester to talk about the commitment. Stay tuned for posters and members of Food Roots discussing the commitment! Talk to Becca Cohen, Arielle Lawson, Karen Weldon or Abbie Shain if you would like more information. And if you’re interested in being more involved, we meet in the campus center on Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m.