Putting the “Real” into Real Food

This past February, three members of the Environmental Center’s campus sustainability team traveled to Baltimore, Maryland to attend a Real Food Challenge Breaking Ground Summit. There, the team members met over 200 other like-minded students from over 70 universities, discussed ideas and tactics and ate delicious “real food.”

So what is real food? The Real Food Challenge is a nation-wide campaign that promotes the preparation of food that is produced locally with ethical, humane and environmentally sound practices in college campus dinning halls. The Real Food Challenge works to encourage college campuses across the nation to commit to serving 20% real food by 2020.

Switching to 20% local, ethical, humane and environmentally sound food is indeed a challenge. Adopting such a large percentage of new food requires stepping into uncharted territory—establishing new practices in food production (where we get the real food), purchasing (bringing it to the kitchens), and preparation (how it is cooked). At the three day conference, the Breaking Ground Summit provided students with helpful insights and tools through panel discussions and a series of workshops like Food System Working Groups: Building the Real Food System on CampusOrganizing & Strategic Campaign Planning and Food Justice: Privilege & Oppression in the Food System. Just as important as information, the summit provided an opportunity for networking. Our Fort Lewis students were able to make connections with nearby schools working on the Real Food Challenge such Denver University, who is in a similar stage. They were also able to swap ideas from other schools of similar size and dinning programs.

A photo from the Real Food Challenge Breaking-Ground Summit in Baltimore, MD.

A panel discussion including producers, consumers and distributors associated with a dinning service at an East coast school participating in the Real Food Challenge. Photo courtesy of Melanie Weber-Sauer.

Right now, Fort Lewis College is still just sprouting into the first stages of the Real Food Challenge. Stay tuned for our next steps and how we plan on moving our school towards a more sustainable dinning program!

For more information on the Real Food Challenge, check out their web site http://www.realfoodchallenge.org/. Or, feel free to email me at miwebersauer@fortlewis.edu.

By Melanie Weber-Sauer

Growing Partners Presents Home Grown: Cultivating Your Role in the Local Food System

Mark WInne

Friday, February 25th marks the start of an eye opening weekend about the role we all play in our local food system. The event is kicked off with keynote Speaker Mark Winne discussing “Food, Freedom, and Authority: Who Controls the Food We Eat”, and everyone who cares about their food or community should be in attendance. This is taking place in Noble Hall room 130 on the Fort Lewis College campus. The following day, Saturday the 26th, will be a full day retreat with workshops and conversations centered on local food and bringing out your inner food advocate. The skills gained through this event are applicable at home, with friends, and in the community.

This event is a huge landmark for the local food crusade for many reasons, one of the main ones being that if we as a people ever hope to control our food resources then we need to start at home, today. This event is dedicated to educating the public on how much power they have and how much of an affect they have in the grand scheme of things; it’s a big one.

Every person plays a huge part in the food system as not just a consumer but as a producer also. Its important that we all realize this and cultivate the inner food advocate inside. Attendance on Friday is encouraged to everyone! To attend the retreat Saturday you must RSVP. For more information contact Stacey Carlson, head of the Local Food team at smcarlson@fortlewis.edu.

Costumed Mass of Bikers in Durango

The beginning of the bike ride at Buckley Park. Photo by Oliver Luneau

The beginning of the bike ride at Buckley Park. Photo by Oliver Luneau

Critical mass (CM) biking is a worldwide event occurring on the last Friday of every month in over 300 cities around the world including Durango. The Friday before Halloween, October 30, a large group of costumed bikers left Buckley Park with their mind set on stopping traffic and having fun. Critical Mass biking began in San Francisco 1992 to bring attention to the unfriendliness of cities towards bikers but it now has no single clearly defined goal.

The only universal trait of every Critical Mass ride is the group of bikers riding through town. There are no assigned leaders and no strict organization which is part of what allows the monthly event to remain unhindered by the authorities. The rides around the world vary by size greatly. Durango has one of the smallest rides because of the amount of people living here, although it would be great to change that. It’s important to realize that CM is about riding, having fun, and asserting bikers right to the road, and not about making trouble or law breaking. The ride starts at Main and Twelfth Street, Buckley Park, every last Friday of the month, assuming the weather allows it.

There is no set route for the ride and often times the leader is the person in the front. Participation is extremely important because without a “Critical Mass” that can stop motorized vehicles there is no ride.

Photo by Ashlee Robinson

Photo by Ashlee Robinson

Durango loves to celebrate Halloween and nothing gets people in the spirit like a crazy bike ride through town. Winter has started there will be no more Critical Mass rides this year. There were around thirty five participants in the Halloween ride and I hope to see large numbers of bikers there in the future. To learn more about the history of Critical Mass biking visit the Wikipedia page.

Photo by Ashlee Robinson

Photo by Ashlee Robinson

– Oliver Luneau

Water, Water everyhere but not a drop to drink

Lemon Resevoir - Heather Ellis

Lemon Resevoir - Heather Ellis

Water is always a big topic in the west. Water is required for life. Without it our crops die, our cities dry up, and eventually we would die. According to a Durango Herald editorial, Colorado’s Front Range is seeking new sources of water to fuel their population. Where do you think they’re looking? Across the continental divide, to the green and fertile western slope, at least that’s how they see us. One plan designed by Aaron Million, a Fort Collins developer, calls for a private pipeline that would carry as much as 250,000 acre feet of water from the Green River to the Front Range. The Green River, which begins in Wyoming and travels all the way into Utah where it merges with the Colorado River, is the primary water source for Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Southwestern Wyoming, and is one of the more popular river routes in the region. Luckily, Governor Bill Ritter does not support the idea of taking water from the Western Slope to support the Front Range. Gov. Ritter sees that while the Western Slope may have more water running through it, it is also a very arid region. Ritter also believes that the water from one watershed should not be used to support another, especially one that drains to the east instead of the west. If you want to learn more about this discussion check out the Durango Herald’s article here.

Is the Western Slope that wet? The Durango Herald reported that the Animas River, the river than runs through Durango, Colorado, is well below what it was in 2002. Why is this important? 2002, was one of the worst drought, and fire, years in Colorado history. The low water levels have been attributed to early runoff and a dry monsoon season. Hopefully, Colorado will have a snowy winter that will make up for the lack of a monsoon. But only time will tell. If we don’t get a good winter base it is likely that we could find ourselves in a drought with fires raging around us. If that happens we might need to steal some water from the Front Range.

– Ben Rogers

Save the Gulch

HorseGulchRd

EC File Photo

Durango area residents have a common misperception that the Horse Gulch area is a protected playground. Horse Gulch is used for hiking, biking, horseback riding, wildlife habitat, and it serves as an important natural classroom for the college. All these activities in this area could easily be lost.

Volunteers from Trails 2000 began work in 1991 to build an impressive trail system in this area. Horse Gulch was host to the Single Speed World Championships at the end of last summer; this is a prestigious event that takes place once a year in different venues around the world. The fact that it landed in Horse Gulch illustrates the areas importance as a recreational resource.

Much of Horse Gulch is privately owned. These areas would be worth millions of dollars if they were to be developed and turned into homes. Some of the land is owned by the city of Durango and some by Fort Lewis College but that does not mean that the private owners do not have their own agenda. If the city built a road back into Horse Gulch, which has been talked about in city planning meetings, there would be a rush for private owners to start developing. A road may be built through this area to clear congestion on Hwy. 160 near the Farmington Hill. Many of the uses would be forever ruined if this were to happen.

An interpretive guide was put together last summer explaining all of the uses of Horse Gulch and will soon be on sale at the college and around town. The money from the sales of this guide will go towards a massive cleanup effort in the spring. For more information on this topic refer to this informative guide. There are many people that use this area daily and would be willing to do what it takes to keep it safe. With community support this area can be a free and permanent part of the Durango outdoor experience.

– Royce Johnson