Oxford and University Green Week

University of Mississippi

Green Week Challenge: Food

You must complete at least one of the activities listed below as part of the Green Week Challenge. To get started, download the Green Week Challenge Card here or pick up a hard copy at locations around Oxford and on campus.

Did you know that the food you choose to eat impacts your health, the economy and the environment in which we all live? This category of the Green Week Challenge highlights the importance of sustainable food choices and the simple changes you can make to support a healthier food system. Complete at least one food-related act of green from the list below.

Click the act you’d like to learn more about or scroll down for additional information.

Donate a ‘real food’ item to a local food bank

Visit the Oxford Community Market

Visit a community or personal garden

Attend “Garden to Pantry” meal

Eat a meatless meal

Donate a ‘real food’ item to a local food bank

Document this Act of Green: Take a photo of your food donation and post it to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the #GreenWeekChallenge.

Why it’s important

You may have heard the term “real food” mentioned before, and at first, it can seem confusing. Isn’t all food technically real?

It’s not. The dictionary defines “food” as “something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies,” and the term “real” as “true and actual; not artificial.” When you take into account that nearly 70 percent of the average American’s diet is made up of processed foods—that is, foods that are not in their true form or contain artificial ingredients—the term “real food” starts to make a whole lot more sense.

Unfortunately, many canned items and shelf-stable foods that are donated to food banks often have unhealthy additives and/or are high in sodium. Below are a few tips for purchasing real food items:

Read the label – A simple way to tell if the food products you’re buying at the grocery store contain altered ingredients is to use the “kitchen test,” a term coined by October Unprocessed, a nationwide challenge that takes place each year. If a food contains an ingredient that you realistically would never have in your kitchen cabinet—say RED 40 or hydrogenated oil—then it contains artificial or altered ingredients. You can also download helpful smartphone apps like Fooducate to scan items for questionable ingredients.

Choose healthier alternatives – When purchasing packaged foods, choose healthier alternatives. For example, you could purchase a peanut butter that contains “dry roasted peanuts,” instead of a product that looks similar but contains “roasted peanuts, sugar, less than 2% of: hydrogenated vegetable oils, (cottonseed and rapeseed), salt, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil.”

Buy organic when possible – Food grown with organic methods is produced with fewer chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers. Many grocery stores carry organic alternatives of packaged, shelf-stable foods like canned beans and dried pastas.

Where to Donate

Local food pantries to consider donating food items to include:

Visit the Oxford Community Market

Document this Act of Green: Bring your Green Week Challenge card to the market and visit the UM Office of Sustainability table for a stamp!

The Oxford Community Market takes place on Tuesdays (beginning April 18) from 3 p.m. – p.m. at the Community Pavilion located on the corner of University Avenue and Bramlett Boulevard. The market sells local baked goods, produce, honey, meats and more. It also features music and children’s activities.

Why it’s important

A simple way to support a sustainable food system is to buy locally produced food. By purchasing local items, you are making the choice that’s best for:

You – Large-scale farming productions often alter their produce or pick items before they are ripened to ensure freshness on the long journey from a distant farm to your table. This depletes your foods of nutritional value and taste. Local food is picked at the peak of ripeness, often the day before (or morning of) a farmers market!

Your planet – On average, food travels about 1,400 miles before reaching the table. Buying locally reduces food miles, which reduces fossil fuel energy use, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Smaller, local farms are also less likely to use chemical fertilizers and harmful pesticides, which can leech into the environment (and your body).

Your community– By supporting local farmers you are helping promote economic growth, because your money is staying within the community. On average, farmers receive only 11 cents per food dollar. The remaining 89 cents pays for transportation, packaging, processing, etc.* When you shop at locally, much more of your food dollar goes directly to the farmers (potentially as much as 100%!)* (*Data from FoodDay.org)

Visit a community or personal garden

Beautiful day in the garden! #GreenWeekChallenge

Document this Act of Green: Take a photo at the garden and post to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #GreenWeekChallenge.

Why it’s important

Gardening offers countless benefits to yourself and to the community. By growing your own produce in a personal or community garden, you prevent a significant amount of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere. Because grocery stores oftentimes have their food shipped thousands of miles, it requires gallons of fossil fuels to bring fresh food to your tables. Not only do you get to eat fresher, better tasting, chemical-free food when you garden, but you get to reduce your carbon footprint as well.

Community Gardens in Oxford

Oxford Community Garden – The Oxford Community Garden is located behind the Community Pavilion, on the corner of University Avenue and Bramlett Boulevard. The garden will be locked, but you will still be able to see into the garden plots if you visit.

UM Campus Garden – The UM Campus Garden is located behind Residential College South.

Attend Garden to Pantry meal at UM Garden

Document this Act of Green: Attend this event and receive a stamp on your Green Week Challenge card.

Why it’s important

“Food security means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” – United States Department of Agriculture

Mississippi leads the nation in food insecurity rates, according to the USDA, which estimates that nearly 21 percent of state residents are struggling to afford their next meal. This percentage is thought to be higher for college students, who have to choose between high costs of class materials, tuition, etc. and food—especially among non traditional students.

The UM Food Bank, located in Kinard 213, was founded in 2012 to help alleviate food insecurity on the University of Mississippi campus. Through a recent partnership with the UM Garden Club, the Food Bank is now able to offer fresh produce grown in the campus garden.

On Wednesday, April 19 at 5 p.m., the UM Garden Club & Food Bank are hosting a dinner created from produce grown in the campus garden and shelf-stable ingredients available at the Food Bank! Attendees will meet at the UM Garden (behind RC South) to help harvest veggies and walk over to the Honors College kitchen for a quick cooking demonstration before sharing a delicious meal.

The meal will consist of kale grilled cheese, tomato-basil soup, sautéed carrots with rosemary and thyme and strawberry basil lemonade. This event is free, but registration is required. Reserve your spot here by April 18.

Learn more about this event here.

Eat a meatless meal

Enjoying Meatless Monday as part of the #GreenWeekChallenge.

Document this Act of Green: Take a photo of your meal or meal ingredients (or of yourself preparing or enjoying the meal) and post it to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the #GreenWeekChallenge.

Why it’s important

Raising livestock is resource intensive. If every American substituted a vegetarian dish for one chicken meal per week, the impact would be equivalent to:

-Saving 70 million gallons of gas—enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico*

-Saving 100 billion gallons of water – enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost four months*

If everyone reduced their meat consumption, agricultural carbon emissions could be reduced by 50-90% in 15 years! Since about 70% of agricultural emissions are related to raising cattle, choosing meats other than beef is another way to reduce your food’s impact.

(*Data from Huffington Post)

Additional resources:

Calculate how far the ingredients in your meal have traveled – http://www.foodmiles.com

Meatless Monday recipes – http://www.meatlessmonday.com/favorite-recipes/

To learn more about the Green Week Challenge, click here. Questions? E-mail green@olemiss.edu.


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