On Monday, April 18, Harding Dining Services hosted an event called #farm2fork which aimed to encourage students to buy and eat locally-grown foods. This event went alongside Earth Week, a nationally-recognized week dedicated to eco-friendly endeavors like reducing waste.
Harding Dining Services held a “Weigh the Waste” station in the cafeteria throughout the week, where students’ extra food was emptied onto a scale to show how much food is wasted. According to Harding Dining Services, students reduced food waste by 43 pounds compared to the fall semester, the last time “Weigh the Waste” was held.
Throughout the week, Good Measure Market and the Searcy Farmers’ Market set up tables in the cafeteria and spoke with students about buying locally-grown produce and nutritious snacks.
Freshman Grace Nickols said that Good Measure Market’s booth was accomodating to her specific dietary needs.
“When I first came to the booth, I told them that I had a gluten intolerance,” Nickols said. “They let me know that all of their products were made in gluten-free kitchens.”
Nickols said that almost all of the ingredients were from local farmers or sourced from organic distributers.
“I tried the gluten-free bread, chocolate cake, sausage balls and soup,” Nickols said. “I’ll definitely try to visit the (Searcy) Farmers’ Market now that I’ve learned more about the products they sell and how they can cater to people with food allergies.”
Executive Director of Main Street Searcy Amy Burton is a coordinator for the Searcy Farmers’ Market and said that buying locally-grown produce has many perks.
“The health benefits are a big part of buying locally,” Burton said. “Instead of picking produce while it is green and letting it ripen on a truck, local farmers pick produce when it is ripe and full of nutrients.”
Burton said that visiting the Searcy Farmers’ Market can be a social event as well.
“It’s a trendy thing to do now,” Burton said. “You get to know where your food comes from; you can get to know your farmer. Most farmers use natural pesticides on their produce and are very transparent with customers.”
The Searcy Farmers’ Market is located in the Burrito Day Cafe parking lot and is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. – noon or until all of the items are sold out and Tuesdays from 3-6 p.m.