Sunday, November 8, 2009


Today’s purpose was to see what options a UVA student has within Charlottesville- limiting the restaurants/markets to a thirty minute walking radius from Lambeth Dorms.

Charlottesville is farther ahead with organic options than are the UVA Dining Halls. There are plenty of sufficient options for keeping an organic diet nearby central grounds. That is not to say that all of these options are inexpensive- but certainly if one wanted to go organic, it is possible in the city of Charlottesville. Below are various organic options around Lambeth Dorms.

Rebecca’s Natural Food is just a 10-12 minute walk from Lambeth and it serves a wide range of both organic and local products.

Three (which is actually on the Corner) has several organic products on their menu.

Java Java, a coffee shop that is only fifteen minutes away, serves several organic products. The store prides itself on its free trade coffee beans.

Integral Yoga Natural Foods is about a twenty minute walk- but offers many organic products. They always have organic produce (according to its website). The market works to serve the greater community of Charlottesville through different philanthropic projects. They donated more than $200 in the first six months of 2009. They also consistently donate to various food banks in the region.

Food Of All Nations is just a short walk from Lambeth and offers a variety of both local and organic food. Much of their products come from Polyface Farms.

Chipotle actually usually pork from Polyface farms- they incorporate both local and organic concepts into their product. If pork is your style, then it’s just a short walk down Route 29 to get an organic product from one of the biggest chains in the United States. Although I am a Qdoba fan- props go out to Chipotle for its local/organic program. Since Chipotle does not heavily advertise that the pork is local, maybe the corporation is actually concerned about helping the local economies around each of their select Chipotles. Makes you wonder where Qdoba’s interests are in serving the area in which they have chains.
An article on the organic/local pork at Chipotle

A really good option I did not previously know about is the Ivy Inn. The Ivy Inn prides itself on buying fresh and local (and some organic). It also uses products from PolyFace Farms (good old Joe Salatin). It also is not a far walk from Lambeth, somewhere between fifteen to twenty minutes.

As many people know, there is the organic powerhouse- Harris Teeter just down the street from Lambeth. Certainly, if one was to go organic, Harris Teeter would be one of the most realistic options to stock up on food. Of course their prices are not always ideal, but this comes with trying to go organic- it isn’t a cheap diet.

Smoothie King offers some Organic products and so does Panera. Panera actually prides itself on humane treatment of animals (which culturally is a major appeal for some customers). Their chickens are supposedly all natural and antibiotic free.

These are certainly not all the options within around Lambeth Dorms- but it just goes to show that there are plenty of resources within Charlottesville if one wants to have an organic diet. But there are several major factors with play into the feasibility of these restaurants/markets.

One is financial restrictions (as previously discussed). I travelled to both Whole Foods (which isn’t walking distance) and Harris Teeter, and I personally cannot afford to eat their products on a habitual basis. It is just too expensive for the average college student. Another major factor is convenience. Yes, there are plenty of organic options available- but do I really want to walk twenty minutes to get a meal. Being a student at UVA without a car with me on campus- how am I supposed to transport large amounts of groceries? Surely I could make several trips back and forth to Harris Teeter, but how much time and walking would that take up? Convenience is arguably the most important factor for most students when considering an organic diet and probably the one that prevents them from accomplishing it. The last major factor is dietary restrictions. Let’s say you’re going to one of the restaurants listed- Ivy Inn for example. You take a look at the menu and see that they have organic beef from Polyface Farms (hypothetically). What if you don’t like beef or you’re a vegetarian? If there are options on the menu that you do like but they aren’t organic- your options are limited. I for example would love eat organic products when going to Chipotle but since I do need pork due to dietary restrictions, I have no other organic options. Do I starve or do I pick another option that isn’t organic? Dietary restrictions are very important (and they are similar to that of convenience) because if you don’t want to eat the organic product available, that then the fact that the product is organic isn’t a good enough motive to buy it.

Money, Convenience, and Options- these three make or break ones desire to eat organic products. My conclusion from today’s experience- going organic is feasible but not easy. Charlottesville is an ideal city to start an organic diet in. Polyface Farms is one of the most well-known organic farms in the country and a lot of their products come to vendors in Charlottesville. Organic food is here- you just have to know where to go.

Five days of trying to go organic. My first day started off very unfortunate- seeing how the Dining Halls have very few options for an organic diet. But now, after seeing all the options within a thirty minute walking radius of where I live, I’m optimistic that going organic is possible. One must consider the three options above, but if the difficulties are understood and dealt with, it is completely feasible to eat organically in Charlottesville. Although, having a dining meal plan will not help the situation at all.

From here on I will focus on more options for eating organic on the UVA campus and making organic food more of a necessity in the dining halls. I think it is ridiculous that Newcomb (Dining Hall) has NO organic products. O’Hill (another nicer Dining Hall) is lacking but certainly has the initiative, and Runk Dining Hall is doing alright, but seriously Newcomb- Nothing? Did I talk to the wrong executive chef? Anyways, that certainly should be focused on.

Over the next few weeks I will focus on answering previously unanswered questions and seeing what other restrictions come into play when trying to eat organic on campus.

- Michael

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