Emory's sustainability vision sets an ambitious goal of 75 percent local or sustainably grown food in its hospitals and cafeterias by 2015. Sustainably grown food supports environmental health, worker welfare and wages, and farm viability, as well as taste and nutrition.
A Sustainable Food Committee was named by the Emory University President James Wagner in the spring of 2007 to lead Emory’s Sustainable Food Initiative. The group includes a dozen members - faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students - from all across the University and has accomplished a number of projects including establishing food purchasing guidelines and creating our own food gardens. The food gardens located around campus are dedicated to general education about seasonal grains, fruits and vegetables.
Learn about Emory's sustainable food initiative and see how the University's consumption of certain breeds is saving livestock in the video below.
Sustainable food is also about taste and nutrition, and Emory students are passionate about both. See the video below for a guide to eating well and sustainably at Dobbs Market, located in the Dobbs University Center (the DUC), and be sure to visit the Student Groups page to learn more about the many sustainable food interest groups on campus.
The Sustainable Food Committee reached consensus on definitions of “sustainable” and “local” food. Sustainability Guidelines for Food Purchasing were adopted in fall 2007, and provide clear goals and implementation steps for 10 categories of food purchases.
"Local" is defined in two tiers:
highest priority to Georgia farmers, through relationships with known producers. As products become available, we hope to buy more of our food from areas close to Emory.
a second priority is our eight-state region of Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and Mississippi. This broader region recognizes the limits of the Georgia growing season.
A number of certification systems are emerging in North America and around the world, to help verify food production methods that embody the triple bottom line of sustainability.
Highest priority is a certification that includes social as well as environmental, economic, and animal welfare components, as it becomes available
The combined commitment to local and sustainable aspects of food purchases allow us to contribute to a number of related sustainability goals, including:
rural economic health
open space preservation
reduced use of fossil fuels
environmental protection from harmful agricultural inputs and practices
preservation of biodiversity
safe and just working conditions in the agricultural sector
improved human health
new systems of accountability
Emory Farmers Market
The Emory Farmers Market is held during the academic year from 11am to 3pm on Tuesdays in front of Cox Hall. Special summer events highlight seasonal crops while the farmers market is in recess. The market is sponsored by the Office of Sustainability Initiatives in cooperation with Emory Dining.
The market features fresh local produce, and some vendors are certified organic. The market also includes sustainably produced meat, bread, cheese, and other artisan products, and occasionally features music and chef demonstrations. The market is open to everyone.
The farmers market offers a weekly gathering for the Emory community to support local Georgia farmers and to expand knowledge about healthy eating and sustainable production systems. Small Georgia farmers are can sell their products and it allows the community to establish a relationship with the people who grow their food, a component of a local, sustainable food system.
The market is governed by a subcommittee of the Sustainable Food Committee, led by Chad Sunstein, Farmers Market Manager. Contact Chad for further information about the market and to be added to the listserv for market announcements.
Educational Food Gardens
To date, Emory has eight small educational food gardens on campus that highlight sustainability and food. These food gardens are maintained by a team of staff, students, neighbors, and faculty and harvests are shared within each team. They are located:
beside Dooley's Depot
beside the Rollins School of Public Health
beside the Cox Hall ravine
at the Center for Science Education on Oxford Road
at Oxford College between the cafeteria and Haygood Hall
at Yerkes Primate Center - garden that provides enrichment plants for the primates
at the School of Nursing - a medicinal herb garden established as a celebration of healing and site reflection.
at the School of Medicine - to promote greater awareness about nutrition as an aid in maintaining good health.
The gardens boast lovely tomatoes, lettuces, peas, beans, greens, eggplant, broccoli, strawberries, and even cotton; the gardens have become islands of beauty, education and campus interest.
Emory Food Gardens are part of a growing sense of what it means to live sustainably, including:
increasing awareness of local food and education about what food crops look like and how they grow.
reminding passersby that eating locally reduces fossil fuel use and addresses global warming.
offering locales of respite and stillness, spaces to withdraw from the ordinary round of academic life.
fostering an awareness of seasons and the bioregion of which we are a part.
offering meaningful work that increases attachment to place.
educating about ethnic traditions and crops from around the world.
Educational Garden Volunteers
The Educational Gardens on campus are maintained by teams and welcome volunteer workers. If you would like to join a team or want additional information, contact the Educational Garden Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eating Sustainably: Information Sheets
In 2009-10, the Sustainable Food Committee created a series of short information sheets (2 - 5 pages) about many aspects of sustainable food, eating locally, how to understand food labels, nutritional content of sustainable food, and other issues of interest.
1. Defining sustainability and sustainable food
2. Food, foodshed, soil, and place
3. Identifying sustainable food: an introduction to marketing terms
4. Health benefits of eating sustainably
5. Nutrient content and sustainable food
6. Pesticides and organic foods
7. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
8. Food choices and environmental impact: meat and plant-based diets
9. Energy and food production
10. Animal welfare and factory farms
11. Grass-fed livestock
12. Sustainable seafood
13. Choosing local food
14. Sustainable food purchasing and the Georgia economy
15. Impact on farm workers
16. Fair Trade
Sustainability Summit on Food
A Sustainability Summit on Food was held in 2008 to expand understanding of sustainable food issues among all sectors of Emory, and foster informed dialogue around issues of sustainable food.
Over two-half days in February, student delegates debated trade-offs among local, organic, fair trade, grass-fed, humanely raised, and sustainable seafood aspects of sustainability. In a simulation of food service menus, small groups of delegates were offered nine meals and alternative purchasing choices for ingredients, based on actual retail prices from Atlanta stores. With a given budget, they had to reach a consensus about how to allocate their food purchases.
The recommendations from the student summit emphasized fair trade coffee and tea and sustainably-harvested fish. Local produce was strongly preferred, hormone and antibiotic-free meat and dairy products were widely chosen, and organic eggs and milk were priorities for many groups.
The lively event built a stronger community around issues of food at Emory and created an approach that can be replicated in the future and shared with other schools.
To reach faculty and staff, the Summit committee conducted on-line survey to ask for preferences among the same set of choices around sustainable food that the student delegates had considered. Over 1000 respondents gave their advice. A series of open forums offered deeper discussions around sustainable food on campus.
Creating a student-run, sustainable/organic farm is a long-term vision of the Sustainable Food Initiative. A farm would return Emory to the “work and learn” philosophy of its founders in the 1830s, when students joined academic studies with farm work at the college’s original Oxford campus location.
Today, many have expressed interest in seeing summer opportunities for students as well as fall and spring efforts around a farm, either near the Oxford campus or at a site in Druid Hills. At present, the Office of Sustainability Initiatives is pursuing possible locations and identifying faculty mentors before proceeding further with plans for a farm.
Sustainable Food Fair
Students in the anthropology course “Fast Food/Slow Food” put on a Sustainable Food Fair, in collaboration with the Office of Sustainability Initiatives and Emory Dining.
A lively midday event features music and roughly 40 stands of locally grown fresh food for sale, chefs offering delectable samples, stores featuring sustainably grown foods and other products, and nonprofits in the Emory area that are part of the sustainable food movement. The event has become one of the most popular fall events at Emory.
Interested in knowing more about local sources of sustainably grown and certified organic foods? Check out the Georgia Organics Directory to local producers, restaurants, farm-to-school programs, stores, and more.
To support the expansion of local and sustainable purchasing, Emory University partnered with a local nonprofit, Georgia Organics, from 2007 to 2009 to hire a part-time farmer liaison.
Chaz Holt traveled around the state to provide information about the Emory sustainability program to diverse agricultural groups. He offered guidance to the food service distribution system, identified new farmer partners, and helped growers to become certified as sustainable producers with Food Alliance. Producer Guidelines for becoming an Emory Food Supplier were developed in winter 2008, to provide information for interested farmers.