Professors Promote Local Produce

Ryan Griffin, Class of 2017

On Thursday, April 14, members of the Colgate community attended a Wellness Brown Bag titled “Local Food Production.” The event was set up so that people could hear about the importance of local food from members of the Environmental Studies Department and Office of Sustainability.

Associate Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Sociology and Anthropology Department Professor Christopher Henke was one of the speakers at the event. Henke is also a member of Colgate’s Environmental Studies Program and is interested in farming trends in America. According to Henke, the number of Americans involved in agriculture has steadily declined from almost 90 percent to two percent. He discussed how farms have become more consolidated as well, with the average cattle herd size

constantly diminishing. 

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies April Baptiste also spoke at the brown bag. She discussed how she set up an experimentcomparing consumer preferences for buying local food versus food from groceries stores. Baptiste sought to answer the question: “Is local food available and affordable for local residents?” She found mixed results with Walmart and Price Chopper, offering cheaper prices on a bundle of produce than local vendors. However, local suppliers came out on top when looking at ingredients for

an omelet. 

The results of the local food options surprised sophomore Meagan Klebanoff.

“Going into the brown bag I was under the impression that local food was more expensive than conventional produce at a supermarket, which Professor Baptiste has found not to be the case. I think that it’s definitely important to support direct-to-consumer produce venues such as farmer’s markets and CSAs,” Klebanoff said. 

Furthermore, Baptiste spoke about how high cost perception and transportation costs were a few major factors in consumer


The brown bag raised these issues because of their relevance to Colgate students and the Madison community in many ways. Students wishing to learn more about food sources and production were encouraged to take Hunting, Eating and Vegetarianism among other Environmental Studies classes, including Environmental Justice. These issues also were seen as pertinent when discussing Colgate’s new food contract. Henke assured the group that the administration has been taken the responsibility to work with local food sources when assessing a possible replacement for Sodexo. 

Sophomore Ty Peake noted the importance of this process.

“I hope that the University will be able to work in tandem with local suppliers in order to support local growers and to bring fresh food to Colgate,” Peake said.