For the first time in their lives, many students are making more decisions that will impact their health and well being. While balancing class and other campus activities, students must choose how much rest they need, how much exercise to get, and what kinds of foods to eat.
Eating healthy can present a challenge, as many students are on the go every day and opt for easy, fast foods like cheeseburgers and French fries instead of more healthy options like salad, fruit, and leafy vegetables.
ECU faculty and staff members are striving to help students make healthier, wiser choices. This past Tuesday, the university held its second annual Farmers Market, which showcased locally grown foods and products readily accessible for the ECU community.
Angelea DeCuzzi, founder of the Locavore Market, eastern North Carolina’s first local farm delivery service, sells fresh produce to a customer.
“It’s great to promote local farmers and growers, and locally grown food has so many more nutrients,” said Janie Owens, ARAMARK nutrition director and coordinator of the Farmers Market. “Foods typically travel about 1,300 miles before reaching our grocery stores, but foods found at the Farmers Market are grown locally and have not been transported across several states before being purchased.”
The Farmers Market was a Wellness Passport event for students enrolled in Health 1000. The market incorporated educational elements where students could learn about topics such as the “Dirty Dozen,” the difference about organic and nonorganic foods, and, ultimately, where their food comes from.
A variety of vendors were present at the marketing including Bakers’ Southern Traditions Peanuts, Locavore Market, Spring Run Market, Tipsy Teapot, Celestine Ridge Alpacas, Nooheroka Natural, Shore to Door Seafood, Warren Brothers Farm, Nu Skin- Homemade Lye Soap, Chandler and Sons Honey, and Freda Butner from the NC Department of Agriculture.
Students who attended the Farmers Market enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about how food gets from the farms to their plates.
“It makes me feel good to know where my food came from,” said senior Tatum Weaver.
Mary Betty Kearney of Nooherooka Natural, which raises natural Angus cattle, said that the health benefits of buying locally grown food are significant.
Members of the ECU community showed up despite the heat to support local farmers and to reduce their carbon footprints.
“Parents are becoming more aware of what their children are consuming,” she said. “They are looking for an alternative to preservatives and additives, which are detrimental to the physical health of people.”
All of Nooherooka’s products are raised naturally, with no added growth hormones, antibiotics, or feed additives. Additionally, customers buying meat from Nooherooka are able to follow a tracking number in order to see exactly where their meat came from.
“Buying locally ensures that you know what you are eating; the tracking number ensures that you see where your food is coming from,” said Kearney.
Danielle Baker, owner of Bakers’ Southern Traditions Peanuts in Roxobel, North Carolina, agrees with Kearney about the benefits of being aware of where your food comes from.
“Buying your food locally means that you know where it is coming from and it is as fresh as possible,” she said. “Being able to put a face and name to the farmer who grew the food or the processor who further processed the product into its final form makes everything taste better.”
Baker also added that buying food locally supports the farmers and impacts the local economy in a positive way.
Part of supporting local farmers involves providing them with an outlet where they can offer their products to people. Co-ops are excellent ways to foster bonds among local farmers.
Angela DeCuzzi recently started Locavore Market, a co-op that is eastern North Carolina’s first local farm delivery service. Customers are able to order fresh, local produce, meat, and eggs online and have them delivered or picked up at a drop-off location.
In order to provide the service, Locavore works with local farmers, such as Bowie Woods Garden, Brothers Farm, Carolina Country Fresh, Nooherooka Natural, and Grow Green Gardens.
It’s great to promote local farmers and growers, and locally grown food has so many more nutrients,” said Janie Owens, ARAMARK nutrition director and coordinator of the Farmers Market.
“It’s not sustainable to be shipping food all over the country,” she said. “When you buy locally, you know where your food comes from; you know how the farmer raised the product.”
DeCuzzi added that eating locally also means that people are able to eat healthier.
“Locally grown food is fresher because research shows that nutrient levels in fresh produce actually decrease the longer food travels from farm to table,” she said.
Students who attended the market also recognized the benefits of buying their food locally.
Senior Stephanie McDugal added that she appreciated the opportunity to support the local economy and to be healthier.
“Locally grown food is much fresher and better for you,” she said.
Junior Stephanie Miller voiced enthusiasm for the market as well.
“I think this is a great event; it’s a wonderful idea to buy locally grown food,” she said. “I think this is a great way for me to be healthier and to decrease my carbon footprint.”
By Meagan Williford