Sunday, May 19, 2013

GMOs, Students, and the University of Washington

With upwards of 42,000 students on campus daily, the University of Washington (UW) is an epicenter for education. While this may include your traditional courses such as English and Calculus, the UW has much more than just course credits to offer. Every year, new and returning students have the opportunity to start up new organizations, called Registered Student Organizations (RSOs), in an area of their interest. Several of these RSOs are dedicated to environmentalism, many of which focus more narrowly on the food movement.

University of Washington Student Food Cooperative (UWSFC)

The UWSFC is a student-run cooperative that strives to not only bring student-voice to the campus food system, but to bring education to those that need it. Created just a few years ago, the cooperative has battled through bureaucracy to bring students at the UW the opportunity to get involved in the food movement. Every week the UWSFC hosts a meeting in which every student at the university is invited to join. During these meetings, core members of the cooperative discuss future plans as well as educate the newcomers about the five Ws of the food movement (who, what, where, when, and why). 

A very popular and successful project that the UWSFC has brought to the campus is the bulk buying club. Because of the high price of tuition, college students often times have a difficult time supporting a movement with their wallets, so to speak. Because of this, it can be difficult even for somebody passionate about sourcing foods free of GMOs to be able to support themselves. The bulk buying club offers students the opportunity to overcome this barrier by sourcing local, high-quality, organic, non-GMO foodstuffs at wholesale costs. The bulk buying club of the UWSFC is currently the RSO’s main way to fight against GMOs in our food.

In addition to the bulk buying club, the UWSFC is pushing to get a student run café on campus that sources locally and organically grown ingredients to serve to students. The organization also hosts massive banquets in the University’s student union building in order to get students interested, educated, and involved in the food movement.

University of Washington Farm

The UW Farm, approaching its 10th year in existence, is dedicated to teaching as many students about sustainable agriculture as possible. This includes not only the “How To’s” of growing your own food without the use of pesticides, fossil fuels, and synthetic fertilizers, but information about food politics as well. With over 600 members and two farm sites, the UW farm offers students an alternative way of ensuring that the food they consume is free of GMOs: growing it yourself. It is their hope that students will take the knowledge they have gained during their time with the UW Farm and bring it to the community at large. By doing so, students advocate in a variety of different ways against big agribusiness and for a sustainable, healthful, GMO-free future.    

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