“Eating is an agricultural act.”
This quote reinforces the idea that food production is one of the major ways that humans impact the planet. The way we eat affects our world—every time we eat, we are participating in the food system. Choosing food that is sustainably produced and packaged is a great way to contribute to environmental sustainability!
Tips to Eating Sustainably
- Choose local – Eating locally is a great way to reduce your food’s carbon footprint because it means less energy (and less CO2!) has been used to transport your food. Local food is also a great way to support Oxford’s farmers. Oxford has several places to buy local food including the Oxford Community Market, Mid-Town Farmers Market and the Farmers Market Store.
- Choose organic – Organic foods are produced with fewer chemical inputs like pesticides and fertilizers. In non-organic/conventional production, these chemicals impact the surrounding environment through runoff water and chemical drift. By choosing organic, you are supporting farming practices that rely less on chemicals and are therefore better for the environment’s health as well as your own!
- Choose meatless – Going meatless for even one day per week can benefit the planet. If everyone reduced their meat consumption, agricultural carbon emissions could be reduced by 50-90% in 15 years! Since about 70% of agricultural emissions are related to raising cattle, choosing meats other than beef is another way to reduce your food’s impact.
- Choose real, unprocessed foods -A simple way to tell if the food products you’re buying at the grocery store are processed is to use the “kitchen test,” a term coined by October Unprocessed, a nationwide challenge that takes place each year. If a food contains an ingredient that you realistically would never have in your kitchen cabinet—say RED 40 or hydrogenated oil—then it’s processed. You can also download helpful smartphone apps like Fooducate to scan items for processed ingredients.
If you’re interested in learning more about what it means to eat sustainably and helping others do the same, check out these resources on campus and around Oxford.
The UM Garden is a campus garden for students, faculty and staff of all gardening levels. It is located behind Residential College South and is maintained by the UM Garden Club, whose members use organic methods to grow produce for themselves and the UM Food Bank. This garden uses compost from the Composting Program to fertilize the soil.
Food Day is an annual event celebrating toward healthy, affordable and sustainable food. Food Day at UM is held in each October and includes a farmers market on the Union Plaza, film screenings and panel discussions.
Real Food Rebels is a student organization at UM that seeks to improve the quality of food offered on campus. The group works with the university and Ole Miss Dining to bring more locally sourced, environmentally sound, humanely raised and fair trade food to the campus dining halls.
In the Community
The Oxford Community Market is a farmers market selling fresh produce, baked goods and other locally made and produced items. OXCM features live music from Oxford’s local musicians, as well as programs and demonstrations from area masters in cooking, gardening, nutrition, and healthy living. It is open every Tuesday from 3 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. April – December.
Visit the Farmers Market Store on North Lamar for local produce, dairy products, baked goods, meats and more. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Saturday and from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Mid-Town Farmers Market is open each Saturday in May through October from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. The market sells fresh produce and features live bands and children’s activities.
The Oxford Community Garden‘s mission is to enhance the well-being and beauty of the community by assisting people in growing fresh produce, providing locally-grown food to people in need, increasing social interaction in the community, and creating an educational garden. Rent plot and learn to grow your own produce alongside others in the community!
Good Food for Oxford Schools is an initiative of the Oxford School District to improve cafeteria menus and simultaneously educate students and their families. This program leverages “farm to school” principles to bring local farm produce into school cafeterias that serve more cooked-from-scratch and fresh menu items, and is always looking for volunteers!
The Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network is a locally-based non-profit that assists farmers who want to produce sustainably. This organization often needs volunteers and is a great resource for anyone interested in learning about and helping to improve Mississippi’s food system.
Join a CSA!
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between community members and small-scale farmers. CSAs allow individuals to pre-purchase a share of the farm’s harvest, usually at the beginning of a harvest season. This provides farmers with a steady source of income throughout the season. In return, CSA members receive a portion of the produce harvested each week. CSAs usually offer half-shares and full-shares, depending on the quantity of vegetables you’d like to receive.
In Oxford, there are several CSA options including:
Yokna Bottoms Farm – Certified naturally grown farm in Oxford owned by UM associate professor of leadership and counselor education Doug Davis.
Native Son Farm – Certified naturally grown farm based in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Certified Naturally Grown – A peer-reviewed alternative to the USDA’s organic certification.