San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Sustaining organic options

Green Lunch

The first Green Lunch Bag Series event of the semester was a success, according to Morgan Chan, Associated Students’ sustainability commissioner. Despite the reception of this AS initiative, another of Green Love’s movements seems to be getting the red light.

“It was exciting to see every seat full with quite a few students taking seats on the floor,” Chan said.


A “Go” for Green Bags

GLBS, a program hosted by the Green Love Sustainability Advisory Board and San Diego State’s Center for Regional Sustainability, offers free monthly organic luncheons.

The program’s purpose is to educate students, faculty, staff and administrators about issues pertaining to sustainability. According to Chan, professionals join the conversation by speaking about sustainability in their own fields of expertise, including topics ranging from sustainable energy to health and nutrition.

“Sustainable might sound like New Age jargon, but college students are embracing the idea of food grown locally with ecologically sound and seasonally sensitive methods,” Bruce Horovitz wrote in an article for USA Today.

Yet as clubs such as Green Love are extending its knowledge and embracing sustainability, the rest of SDSU’s students don’t seem to be as welcoming, especially as sustainable foods challenge their financial sustainability.

Aztec Shops expresses concerns

At A.S.’s first semester meeting, Chan presented Green Love’s challenge for Aztec Shops: To have them sign a commitment to have the store’s produce be 20 percent “real food” by 2020.

According to Paul Melchior, SDSU’s director of dining services, the “Real Food Challenge commitment” consists of four requirements: Genetically Modified Organism-free, locally-grown, humanely produced and organic food. Melchior said most, if not all, of Aztec Shop’s produce is GMO-free. He also said Aztec Shops buys local when possible, yet feeding in large volumes and having an average of 30,000 customers per day makes it challenging.

“We need to go beyond the San Diego region,” Melchior said.

Last summer, Aztec Shops began to sell cage-free eggs on campus. The commitment was expensive, according to Melchior, and cost the not-for-profit corporation $20,000 per year, but egg prices were not raised to students because of the change.

Having all organic produce is the toughest request, according to Melchior.

“If the campus community wants to buy all organic and are willing to pay extra then that’s what we need to provide,” he added.

According to Melchior, the University of California, San Diego has signed the commitment. Yet UCSD has a different operating module than SDSU and Aztec Shops’ operation.

Aztec Shops, functioning primarily as an auxiliary of the university, cannot sign for the university. Melchior also said SDSU has a different student base.

“They keep telling us they want lower prices and better value,” Melchior said. “They’re not telling us they want organic.”

Four years ago, Aztec Shops made its salad bar 100 percent organic. The food was labeled organic and thereafter students were asked about the change: For 95 percent of students polled, the change was not important. After a semester of apathy, more money was invested in having prime rib and more seafood.

Melchior said he does not know what percentage of its produce is currently organic, but he is confident it is less than 20 percent.

“We are a not-for-profit organization and 100 percent self-funded so we are not able to commit to covering the extra cost to provide organic at no extra cost to the customer,” he said. “We are here to present to you what you want to buy.”

There are several “green” things currently being done without the need of a signature. Two years ago, Styrofoam was eliminated from campus, reusable containers were introduced to East Commons and all pre-consumer food waste on campus was composted as well as post-consumer waste in the dining room and faculty staff club.

The next GLBS lunch will be on Oct. 12 and Aztec Shops will be participating in Food Day on Oct. 24.

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Sustaining organic options