Nov 16, 2010

UCB News | 'Real Food' Collective

When Berkeley students derailed the imminent arrival of Panda Express on campus last year, their strongest argument against the fast-food chain was the vision of an alternative - a market that would provide local, sustainable, healthful foods.

On Monday, their vision became a reality when the Berkeley Student Food Collective threw open its doors on Bancroft Way, directly across from Eshleman Hall and steps from Sproul Plaza. By afternoon, it was buzzing with customers.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, most grown within 150 miles, filled shelves and a refrigerator case, alongside coolers stocked with Straus milk, Glaum eggs and Columbia Gorge juices, all organic. Bulk bins offered dozens of staples, from flour to rice to chocolate chips, that students - not to mention faculty and staff - can take home for a meal or a batch of cookies.

Wraps, sandwiches, coffee and tea also will be sold, offering a "real food" lunch option close to campus.

By operating as a nonprofit collective, with members donating two hours of free labor a week, the store hopes to keep prices low. Since August, when they signed a lease on a former nail salon, members have been hard at work converting the 600-square-foot space to a food market.

A local artist filled the walls with a brightly colored mural showing farm-to-table scenes, along with giant vegetables. The artwork provides an instant education in the store's principles and the political, environmental and humane aspects of food production. Big leaves dangling from a tree limb that appears to curl around the top of the narrow room blaze with the collective's red-lipped logo and definitions like "sustainable - practices which can be carried out indefinitely without irreversible damage or resource depletion."

"We want this to be a living classroom," says operations manager Alex Stone, who graduated in 2009 and is the store's only paid employee. "We want to make sure people are educated about their food choices, which is where this all started."

Source_ UCB News

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