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Letter to the editor: Ohio State should sign onto Real Food Challenge

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A field of green beans is cultivated at The Chef’s Garden. The Huron, Ohio, company specializes in microgreens and heirloom vegetables, which it sells to upscale restaurants across the country. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

A field of green beans is cultivated at The Chef’s Garden. The Huron, Ohio, company specializes in microgreens and heirloom vegetables, which it sells to upscale restaurants across the country.
Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Letter to the editor:

It has been 45 years since I played quarterback for coach Woody Hayes at The Ohio State University, and although agriculture is still Ohio’s leading industry, our food system is vastly different. In that time, we have lost 36,000 farms in the state of Ohio, our lakes have become polluted by runoff from industrial farms, and farm animals have been moved off the land and into confinement. Universities, including Ohio State, currently source food from large-scale farms great distances from the dining facilities, and these farms harm rural communities, the environment and animals.

As a world-class agricultural teaching, research and outreach institution with a long and rich agriculture history, Ohio State has a unique opportunity to lead us into a better future and food system, and should start by signing the Real Food Challenge Campus Commitment. Real Food Challenge is a nationwide movement to shift university food budgets away from factory farms and junk food and toward local, humane, ecologically sound and fair trade sources, or “real food,” by 2020. Other Big Ten universities including Northwestern and Indiana, as well as neighboring institutions like Oberlin College, are pursuing a working relationship with students to commit to purchasing 20 percent real food or more.

Many small and mid-sized farms within the region, and also fair and ethical producers outside of our region, would be able to provide a large percentage of Ohio State’s demand in a better way. I stand with the students of the Real Food Challenge, along with a broad coalition of support from across the state, and urge President Michael Drake to commit Ohio State to the Real Food Challenge.

Bill Long

Former Ohio State quarterback

Bachelor of fine arts, 1970

24blong@gmail.com

One comment

  1. Yes! We can and should use our farmland to grow local food for the university! I am starting an eating locally 1 year challenge May 1 and would love to see a plan by OSU by the end of that year in 2016 to have a viable plan to bring the university to eating predominately local. My own plan allows for 10% of my food to come from outside Ohio because every society has imported some of their food using seafaring ships over overland caravans for centuries. But eating in season and 90% locally is the goal and it is achievable without going hungry.

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