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January 06, 2006 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-06

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 6, 2006


ibe rl~diigau t tiu*g

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor



The notes
said they weren't
suffering, they
were just going to
- Peggy Cohen, whose father was one
of 12 West Virginia coal miners who died
after being trapped by an explosion, on
notes the miners left for their families, as
reported yesterday by the Associated Press.

a 1. r. 7


Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All
other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.



M AP T <',


Simply delicious


he Washington
apples in the
dining halls - those
Red Delicious ones
k that are a little too red
and way too shiny -
always disturbed me.
One encounter with
their mushy texture
and bland flavor left
me oddly thirsty and dissatisfied, wondering
if perhaps they were the University's way of
teaching students that appearances can be
As far as I'm concerned, Washington Red
Delicious apples are not food, much less
Maybe they're okay in Washington. Maybe
they were once edible, even tasty - before
they were picked, washed and waxed some
2,500 miles ago. I couldn't say; I've never
been to Washington.
I do know that Michigan apples, when
purchased in Michigan, are quite tasty. Even
typically bland Red Delicious apples aren't
that bad when they have been spared the up
to eight-month-long wait in a temperature-
controlled warehouse that Washington's
exports endure.
Beginning a few years ago, the Univer-
sity started serving Michigan apples in the
residence halls during the fall. It's not part
of a campus-wide movement to satiate stu-
dents' appetites - or maybe just my appe-
tite - for Michigan McIntosh and Empire
apples. Rather, it's just one aspect of efforts
to include more locally grown foods in cam-
pus dining hall offerings.
Why care? Buying more local foods will
increase menu variety, cut down on the air
and water pollution inherent in shipping
foods across the country and help out the
local economy. Besides making the hippies
happy, using locally grown foods increases
the quality of cafeteria fare, perhaps leaving

students a little less tired of dorm food come
University dining halls serve roughly
10,000 meals a day. Following the lead of
tiny, private liberal arts colleges like Ster-
ling College of Virginia - where students
produce most of their own food, or at least
purchase it locally - would be an outright
bad idea. I can't see University students rais-
ing enough cattle, making enough maple
syrup or pickling enough beans and beets
- as Sterling students do - to feed any sig-
nificant number of their classmates.
But what the University can realistically
do is significantly expand its offering of
locally grown foods. It's doing a better job
than just a few years ago - all the tofu and
dairy served in University dining halls now
is from Michigan - but we could be doing
a lot more. Even working within the often
cumbersome framework of vendor contracts
and standardized menus, University Din-
ing Services can work with farmers in the
county and the state to expand its cafeteria
Asking the University to shell out food
prices comparable to the "Yuppie tax" that
Whole Foods shoppers pay is unneces-
sary. Buying more local foods may often
be slightly more expensive - students at
Northland College in Wisconsin agreed to a
six-cent per-meal price increase to pay for
local potatoes and onions - but that is not
always the case.
Switching from packaged California tofu
to bulk organic Michigan tofu has saved the
University thousands of dollars annually.
Although these tofu savings don't even make
a dent in the University's nearly $6-million
annual food budget, the switch demonstrates
that using locally grown produce is not nec-
essarily a luxury.
There are certainly obstacles. According
to nutrition specialist Ruth Blackburn of
University Dining Services, the University
requires that food vendors possess expen-

sive liability insurance which most small
produce farmers lack, and individual farms
often cannot produce large quantities on
their own. Working with individual farmers
and local groups to create distribution coop-
eratives can help resolve these challenges
and bridge the gap between local farms and
students' cafeteria trays.
But any major new effort - whether trying
to get the University to serve more Washt-
enaw County-grown squash or converting
an entire dining hall to serve locally grown
produce, as Blackburn hopes could one day
be accomplished - will take pressure from
students. It's not that hard of a fight - if
activism on campus is strong enough to wear
down the University's reluctance to take
action against the Coca-Cola Company, it's
certainly capable of giving the University
the shove necessary to make locally grown
foods a larger part of cafeteria menus.
What could seem like a marginal cause
to some is quickly spreading nationwide
- even The New York Times last week
declared the terms "local" and "sustainable"
the latest "culinary buzzwords." That settles
it: Everybody's doing it.
As more students become aware of the
benefits of locally grown food and the real-
istic measures the University can take, it
will likely require little more than a dedi-
cated student organization and a whole lot
of dining room comment cards to get things
moving. The University has already made
limited progress, and students would benefit
from the efforts already underway to forge
partnerships between University chefs and
local groups like the Food System Economic
Partnership. By the time students-finally take
notice, they may be jumping on the student
activist bandwagon, but there's no harm in
reaping these delicious and socially respon-
sible rewards.

Beam can be reached
at ebeam@umich.edu.

Coke killers miss the mark
BY MARK KUEHN seems more of a diatribe against corporate ly held idealism.
figures for their wealth than evidence against Unfortunately for Michigan's unskilled
Congratulations, student activists, on your Coca-Cola for its alleged abuses. For example, laborers, ignorant student activism has spread
victory against the evil, unethical soda-pop the article inappropriately titled "Getting Away faster than the facts could. Instead of targeting
corporation. I'm sure the alleged victims of with Murder" condescendingly points out how the University's contract, the student coalition
the Coca-Cola Company's tyrannical reign extremely wealthy the leaders of Coke and its should have pressured the bottlers alleged to
in famished third-world countries will rejoice associates are. In that article and others on the be responsible for human rights abuses into
in knowing that the idealistic do-gooders at "Killer Coke" website alleging crimes against changing their practices.
some far-away university have boycotted the workers, the writers fail to point out factual I also find it quite convenient that the Univer-
megalo-corporation that wronged them. They evidence that links the abuses to Coke. sity decided to make this decision over winter
will be forever grateful that the University has In reality, the only people the University's break. Did it think making such a rash deci-
cut its contract with such a corrupt, malevolent contract cuts will affect are the local bottlers sion during a time when most students were
corporate entity. who are already deeply burdened by the lan- at home with their families would soften the
There's just one problem: The vile Coca- guishing Michigan economy. backlash? Did it foresee that the direct effect
Cola Company has very little, if anything, to Coke will hardly see a dent in its massive, of the contract cut would be further damage
do with the alleged abuses. sugary profits. In fact, the $1.4-million loss to the state's economy? The University should
Unlike Nike and other corporations accused due to the contract cut will most likely be taken have made this decision during the fall or win-
of offshore labor abuse, Coke does not directly up by the local Michigan bottlers in the form ter semesters. That way, it could incur proper
import a finished product ready for consump- of layoffs and benefit reductions. I thought the criticism for its actions right away, rather than
tion - the Coca-Cola Company does not bottle University was in favor of jobs and benefits for being able'to let things settle down. I surely
Coke. They simply advertise and sell the syrup unskilled workers. I guess I was mistaken. hope this does not set the precedent for future
used to make its products to local, privately The anti-Coke coalition is just one of the decision-making about touchy matters.
owned bottling plants. Even Colombian bot- many examples of University student groups Don't get me wrong - the coalition should
tling plants - where the alleged worker abuse putting so-called "idealism" before facts. be applauded for directly pressuring the Uni-
and murder is taking place - are not owned by Their intentions may be righteous but their versity instead of using the government to push
Coke. If the allegations against Coke are found actions do more harm than good. While the forth costly regulation. However, the Univer-
to be accurate, there's little the Coca-Cola activists didn't flip over any tables at meet- sity should not make decisions that will harm
Company can do, aside from refusing outright ings a la BAMN, their idealism blinds them the local economy without first getting all the
to sell syrup to the local bottlers and thus hurt- from the consequences of their actions. They facts straight. Idealism is not a valid excuse
ing their already starved local economies. can pat themselves on the back thinking they for lost jobs, especially when nothing else will
At www.killercoke.org - the website of the have accomplished something meaningful, but come from it.
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, an interna- they fail to see the aftermath of their idealis-
tional campaign with which the campus group tic endeavors. The Michigan economy cannot Kuehn is an LSA sophomore and a member
is affiliated - the section on "Coke's crimes" afford to be gambled with in the name of false- of the Daily's editorial board.

Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Andrew Bielak, Reggie Brown, Gabrielle
D'Angelo, John Davis, Whitney Dibo, Milly Dick, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara Gay, Jared
Goldberg, Ashwin Jagannathan, Theresa Kennelly, Mark Kuehn, Will Kerridge, Frank Man-
ley, Kirsty McNamara, Rajiv Prabhakar, Matt Rose, David Russell, Katherine Seid, Brian

Leather helmets are long
gone; why isn't Carr?

The Michigan Daily welcomes letters from all of its readers. Letters from
University students, faculty, staff and administrators will be given priority over others.
1 L -IA- 1. 1_ ~1..t. I 11 -.-A 1. T ,----1---------,o.-*.


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