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CDS Unveils Organic Vegetables

by Sarah Miller-Davenport

It's easy to miss Campus Dining Services' new organic food section, but sophomore Adriane Dellorco and other organically-minded Oberlin students hope to change that. Currently, there is an organic salad bar at Stevenson and a shelf devoted to organic food at the DeCafe.

The campaign to have locally grown organic food products at CDS started last spring, amidst the anti-Marriott movement, when Dellorco spearheaded an ad-hoc committee named Supporters of Local Organic Produce (SLOP).

Although students approached CDS with the idea of using locally grown food three years ago, they didn't follow through with it, due to the College's requirement that any food distributor it buys from must have a $3 million liability insurance policy. It would cost about $3000 to buy this insurance policy, a price too steep for struggling local farmers.

When Dellorco ran into this same hurdle upon approaching CDS last semester, she used the final project for her Environmental Studies 101 class to propose a viable solution. The project laid out a plan to organize a co-operative of local farmers, which would include the Oberlin Sustainable Agriculture Project, a farm about three miles north of campus. OSAP would foot the bill for the insurance initially and sell its products to CDS in the fall semester in the hopes that other farmers in the co-op would sell to CDS in the spring.

CDS agreed to the plan and made arrangements to buy whatever OSAP was willing to sell from the summer season. The summer was a poor season for OSAP and they had little to sell to CDS come fall and couldn't afford the required insurance policy.

Although a disappointing turn of events for SLOP, all hope was not lost. LoPresti's, a large food distributor that is neither local nor organic offered to cover OSAP's insurance and serve as a middleman between CDS and local farmers. Although it is unclear exactly why LoPresti's decided to step up to help CDS acquire organic foods, Dellorco speculated that it might simply be because CDS is one of its biggest customers.

Even with the insurance problem out of the way, OSAP still didn't have enough to sell and so most of the organic products at CDS facilities are from California, and the amount from out of state will only increase as the Ohio growing season comes to an end.

Although Dellorco thinks that buying organic products is a step in the right direction, she is working to help CDS bring in more locally grown products. "It is environmentally and economically better to support local farms. We want to support the dying farming economy in this area," she said.

Michele Gross, assistant director of Residential Life and Service, confirmed Dellorco's hopes that CDS would start buying more locally grown products saying, "we haven't reached our goal yet." Oberlin plans to begin buying food from the Federation of Ohio River Cooperatives, a food supplier that many co-ops on campus use.

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Copyright © 2000, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 129, Number 7, November 3, 2000

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