Whether at the Café, the Rattler’s Nest, or any of the other Metz-operated dining facilities on campus, FAMU students, faculty and staff can find plenty of ways to eat healthy meals while also protecting the environment.
One reason is that when the Metz Culinary Services was chosen as the campus food service company in 2014, an important criterion was the company’s commitment to sustainability.
Metz makes a concerted effort to serve plenty of produce, offer vegetarian options, and increase educational efforts to encourage healthy dining habits, including encouraging diners to avoid food waste. Also, company policy sets out standards for behind-the-scenes sustainability practices.
Each day, a range of wholesome produce is provided, including vegetarian entrees for those choosing to “eat low on the food chain.” Choosing plant-based proteins is eco-friendly because many studies show that meat production requires much more energy and other inputs than plant production. This is essentially because two stages of production are required—growing the plant food to feed the animals, then growing the animals themselves.
Meat production is responsible for significantly more greenhouse gases emissions than plant production. Gases released include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides – three main greenhouse gases. The “water footprint” of meat is also big—for example, it takes 1,800- 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. Studies show that relying more greatly on plant protein also provides health benefits – vegetarian diets are associated with lower blood pressure and lower incidences of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, hypertension, and Type 2 diabetes.
For those new to sampling vegetarian food, there is a daily veggie special at the “Main Plate” to try tasty new items like quinoa casserole. While fried chicken is a reliable standard on “Fried Chicken Wednesdays,” Chef Clark Thomas and his team also provide lower-fat options such as grilled and baked chicken and fish.
Campus diners can choose from a wide selection of frest fruits and vegetables.
Metz is committed to purchasing only NAE (No Antibiotics Ever) chicken by the end of 2016. Metz also uses line caught tuna, cage-free eggs and steroid-free chicken breasts.
As for the other part of the food equation, the choices made by diners, Metz uses informational displays at dining locations encourage patrons to do their part to select wisely and to minimize waste. Signs promote selection of colorful produce, encourage diners to try “Meatless Mondays,” and exhort all to “Take what you like, but eat what you take” to prevent food waste.
Another important strategy for sustainable dining operations is the drive to source more locally grown produce. Tallahassee and Leon County are striving to strengthen the local food economy, make wholesome more accessible to all citizens and support small- and medium-scale farmers who help to make that possible. As a historically agricultural university, FAMU is striving to model this more sustainable approach in its campus food systems by taking lessons from the classroom and the field to its dining operations.
The dining areas feature messages that encourage nutritious food choices and waste prevention.