April 7, 2023 | OPINION | By Alicia Chavez
Last semester, I had the opportunity to tour Colorado College’s Rastall Dining Hall, during which I saw the facility’s loading dock, storage unit, and kitchen. The tour was sponsored by the Office of Sustainability and the Bon Appétit offices here on campus. Not only was I shocked about the information that I learned, but I also found it baffling that it wasn’t advertised to students on campus. Some reevaluations into Bon Appétit’s marketing could serve it well.
The food we are served is obviously at the forefront of our minds when it comes to the dining hall. About 20 percent of the food is considered “farm to fork,” which means products are purchased within a 150-mile radius of CC. While that may not seem like a lot, I was surprised to discover that there are not a lot of farm options that CC can purchase meat and produce from.
Last semester, the pork, beef, chilis, potatoes, and cantaloupe were all “farm to fork,” and it’s important to note that this might have changed since last semester. All ground beef and beef patties must be humane-certified. This means that from birth to slaughter, cows are not kept in crates or stalls, so they are free to roam around the farm they live on.
The chicken, however, is purchased from either Cisco or Tyson, which are both industrial meat companies. However, I would not place the blame on the CC employees as their only option for poultry is to purchase from large corporations. I think that they make up for the chicken by only using eggs that are certified to be cage-free. The poultry and dairy products served in Rastall are also never given any sort of antibiotics. The beef products are given some antibiotics, but only if the animal is sick and not for preventative measures.
Now, the work of the sustainability office in Rastall is what really shocked me. I think that they have done an excellent job in terms of doing their best to minimize waste and promote climate-friendly practices within the facility. All shipments arrive in cardboard boxes, which are collected to be recycled. They take the time to sort through the compost to make sure that only compostable waste is being sent to the composting facility. Any trash that cannot be recycled or composted is compressed to reduce the volume of waste going to landfills.
In order to reduce their carbon footprint, food purchased from outside of the United States is transported in a cargo ship. Most of the food in Rastall is from the U.S., and Bon Appétit rarely purchases food coming from ships. In order to reduce waste, many of the dishes are only cooked if a large batch of a popular dish runs out.
There are also stations throughout the kitchen that are tasked with prepping specific kinds of food. These stations are responsible for tracking their waste as either red or green waste on a computer system. Red waste is waste that could have been prevented, such as burnt or salty food, while green waste is waste that can’t be prevented, such as an avocado peel or watermelon rind. This system holds each station accountable for the waste they produce.
This isn’t a very secretive process, yet hardly anyone at CC knows about the work that goes into food purchasing and waste management. To clear the air about one rumor in particular, CC does not charge an extra $400 in your meal plan to account for any stealing. The fact that there was a rumor and a lack of clarity is what concerns me the most. I am satisfied with the amount of work and effort that goes into these processes, but my problem is the lack of transparency.
Bon Appétit lives by a “transparent goal,” and they strive for clarity about what is in the food they serve. I think that if they are going to live by a “transparent goal,” then this information should be more widely available to the students that are eating the food.
I think that Rastall and its management team deserve more credit than they receive from the student body, but it’s also difficult to give credit when you don’t have information to warrant that credit.
Both the sustainability and Bon Appétit offices on campus should market more of this attractive information. An advertisement suggestion could be including information about the origin of the food we’re eating on the ingredient sheets next to their corresponding dish.
As a closer for this article, I will offer a Rastall’s hack. The managers taste test all the dishes that are being served right before they open, but they don’t do it throughout the night, so go to Rastall early if you want the best-tasting option.