Thursday, November 5, 2009


Today’s goal was to find restaurants within the typical borders of UVA (i.e. the Corner and 14st street) that serve organic food. It was also to incorporate both dining hall food and on-grounds food products.

Today was met with a great deal of disappointment when it came to finding organic food- except for one major exception... My first goal of the day was to figure out what this “organic” meal was at Newcomb Dining Hall which a student could order. I approached the same supervisor as I had spoken with on Monday, and asked if it was possible to try the organic meal which she had previously told me about. I wasn’t sure what to expect- I imagined it either being some kind of delicacy or something more gross then the typical Newcomb options. The supervisor tells me to wait a minute while she gets a chef from the backroom. Well it wasn’t any chef that strolled out, but the executive chef of all of Newcomb who came to speak with me. I repeated the same question, “Is it possible to get an organic meal?” His response was simply, “Well, you should go to Runk- they have organic food there.” Huh, that’s strange; I was told organic food was an option at Newcomb. I asked him, “So you’re saying there are no organic options at Newcomb.” He responded, “No no we have no organic food here- Runk is the place to go. There are lots of options at Runk.”
Well I heard it from the executive chef- Newcomb was certainly out when it came to eating organic. That’s a blow whereas Newcomb is the most convenient for UVA students being on central grounds- and I learned there are no organic options available.

UVA Dining is certainly lacking with its organic products. Newcomb had zero organic products (at least that I know of). O’Hill has minimal products which constitute a small fraction of the overall food. Runk is doing better, but the only thing completely organic at Runk is their salad bar. In terms of the other food, it is ambigious to what was organic and to what was just healthy. Since nothing else had an organic advertisement, I think the majority of Runk’s organic products lie at its salad bar. So there you go – a modern campus with few modern options of eating sustainably. If you survive on a meal plan and want to eat organic, you may as well give up or just rely on Runk’s salads all day.

I did hear an interesting claim though. Supposedly the soup in the Alderman café is organic- that is another claim I will have to see tomorrow. Whereas Clark and Wilsdorf had virtually no organic items- I’d be surprised if Alderman has anything, but it’s worth a shot figuring out.

After Newcomb, I walked down to The Corner to see what organic options were available. I didn’t know where to start. I though College Inn was a good option- a relatively inexpensive restaurant where a good number of UVA students eat. But, no organic food. Then I tried Qdoba. Since Chipotle uses some organic products I assumed Qdoba may use some as well. They’re vegetables cost extra, so who knows, they could be local or organic. I walked up to glass screen, “Are there any organic products here at Qdoba?” The employee gives me a nod, “We don’t have any organic products here.” I’m fairly sure the guy I talked to is the manager (he wore a different shirt and I’ve seen him there before). Regardless I’ll talk his word for it, I guess Qdoba is out as well. After I found out Qdoba wasn’t an option, I skipped my next destination, Little Johns, because it seemed extremely unlikely that they had organic food. Still the question must be asked in time. But the next place I went to lifted my expectations- It’s called Revolutionary Soup (Avik mentioned it in the post below).

Basically, it’s the most organic non-UVA affiliated restaurant one will find on the Corner/14st street. Their beef and chicken are grass fed from Polyface farms (Joel Salatin?) The lady at the register said the products which are organic change on a day-to-day basis, but she said at least 30% of the products there are organic. They serve primarily soups (the name of the restaurant) but there is wide variety of other options. I came there with my friend who couldn’t stop talking about how great the soups are there and how they are one of the best organic options around UVA. Certainly, their prices are not completely ideal, but on the other hand they aren’t ridiculous either. Feel free to check out the menu above- I definitely recommend the restaurant.

Well my conclusion is the same as that of yesterday, if you want to go organic at UVA- you can do it but it will be pretty difficult, especially if you rely on a dining plan. So far I have found two great options for eating organic on or near campus- The Fine Arts Café and Revolutionary Soup. And why not give Runk a chance if its convenient. Yes, convenience does play a large role into this picture. How far will one go out of their way to eat organic food? Now I know Newcomb has no organic products, but it is surely the most convenient. Which desire outweights the other? These are certainly personal decisions which must be answered. Along with that is the dent in one’s wallet- how much is he/she willing to spend? So far I have found prices a bit more expensive, but still reasonable. It all comes down to individual – what are his/her priorities with an organic diet and how much one is willing to spend.

Tomorrow I will cover Charlottesville altogether (focuses on walkable restaurants). I say a thirty minute radius of Lambeth Dorms is most reasonable. I personally would not walk more than thirty minutes to get better quality food, and I am sure this is a fairly consistent radius with UVA students (although some have a much smaller range). Tomorrow I will also work to answer past questions left unanswered.


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