Written by Casey Gallagher, Roots Organizer
Albany and the Capital Region already have quite a reputation of being a locally-grown food friendly area, but if a group of Siena College students have anything to do about it, the area might become even fresher. The “locavore” movement, a term that can trace its history back to 2007 when it became the Oxford word of the year, focuses on consuming foods that don’t travel vast distance from farm to plate. With the large amount of farmers local to the Capital Region, it makes sense to eat locally.
The original locavore website sets a parameter of attempting to eat food only harvested within a 100-mile distance, which is not too hard around Albany. With nearly 40 farmer’s markets located within driving distance of the Capital, eating local is simple. And with stores like the Honest Weight Food Co-op, one can shop for natural, home-grown food without even leaving the city.
Riding the crest of this farm-fresh wave, Casey Gallagher and a group of Siena College students have begun hosting “sustainable lunches” weekly on Siena’s campus (of which we partook, and it was delicious). Organized into a group named Roots Cafe, Gallagher and her group are working to become a fixture in the college community. Gallagher had this to say about her organization:
Roots Cafe is a student-run sustainable lunch, serving local, organic, fair trade and vegetarian dishes every Wednesday in Massry Commons from 12-1:30. The students who volunteer are from multiple clubs including the Environmental Club, Siena Students for Fair Trade, and the Women’s Center. Currently we as students are trying to turn this weekly lunch into a club called the Roots Cafe. Our general manager of dining services would be advising us. As some students work on the proposal to present to the college, the excitement arises.
The Roots Cafe was created in the Spring semester of 2013, and is continuing on thanks to the support of local bakeries, farms, and organic options we are able to purchase. Siena being a Franciscan school, has the values of St. Francis of Assisi that we as a college follow. Being “locavores” (people who eat or buy locally produced goods) is one crucial key to Franciscan values. By supporting the community as best we can, we will grow our community into a place full of like-minded individuals. It is important to support local vendors, where ever “home” may be, and this helps the local economy as well. Local farmers markets are a great place to start becoming a “locavore”!
Change only comes through the people who work hard, and Gallagher and her group are pushing on with a great program. Eating locally seems like something expensive, hard to find, and tough to participate in, but with just a little local knowledge it is clear that home-grown food is becoming a norm.