When I first saw the Organic Wednesdays poster promoting the new weekly event at Oakham Café, I imagined fresh arugula salads overflowing with local veggies. I envisioned sandwiches with roasted, Toronto- grown tomatoes with grilled tofu. I won’t lie, I even dreamed up a raw food dish.
If only I had read the fine print on the poster: “includes organic beverages”.
My organic oasis quickly dissipated. Organic Wednesdays only featured organic tea, coffee and Mill Street Organic beer. My kitchen has all of those right now.
I felt betrayed and foolish for thinking Ryerson would actually try to expand its food options in an environmentally sustainable way. While CESAR, the students’ union that organizes Organic Wednesdays, doesn’t promote it as an all-natural food event, you can’t blame an enviro- foodie for getting excited.
In fact, Oakham Café general manager Eric Newstadt says the word “organic” is actually meant to describe the café’s warm, social atmosphere. With dim lights and live jazz music from local talents, he says the evenings should really be called, Super Cool Wednesdays.
Too bad the earthy ambiance doesn’t actually involve helping the real environment.
According to Newstadt, transitioning to all organic and local ingredients would be too costly for the already subsidized student service.
I understand that buying natural ingredients can be expensive, and if it came down to it, most students would probably choose the cheaper option.
However, universities have the unique and powerful position to lead actual changes in the food system. We can act as leaders and show that environmentally sustainable foods are important to students.
In 2006, the University of Toronto (U of T) became the first university in Canada to formally commit to purchasing local sustainable food for their cafeterias and residences. They teamed up with Local Food Plus, a Torontobased non-profit organization that nurtures regional food economies by certifying local farmers for sustainable food production and helping them connect with buyers throughout the city.
U of T is taking bold steps towards a greener campus, Ryerson should buck up and follow suit. Can’t we have our organic chocolate cake and eat it too?