UCen dining facility Patern˜ kicked off Winter Quarter by incorporating organic food into its menu, expanding the on-campus availability of pesticide-free fare.

UCSB Coordinator of Dining Systems and Procurement Bonnie Crouse said the campus has seen an increase in organic produce recently as a part of a sustainability plan being implemented throughout the entire UC system. This new plan includes purchasing organic fruits and vegetables from local farms.

Patern˜ and Romaine’s Division Manager Deon Culberson said the move to organic responds to Americans’ changing nutritional habits.

“The American diet is changing, and people are looking into other alternatives,” Culberson, a third-year sociology major, said.

Patern˜’s pasta and marinara sauce are 100 percent organic, while the pizza dough is 95 percent organic. The spinach and lettuce used in Romaine’s salads are grown locally.

Although the organic food for both restaurants is slightly more expensive than other produce, Culberson said neither the restaurant nor the consumer will witness a significant increase in prices.

Crouse said sustaining the local economy has also become a concern for the university, and thus neighboring farms in Goleta and Santa Barbara supply a great deal of the raw produce available in the dining commons.

According to senior lecturer of biology Diane Eardley, the spectrum of organic food ranges beyond fruits and vegetables. Eggs, poultry and meat such as beef can be raised organically as well. However, these options have yet to be offered at UCSB.

Eardley said the vegetables and fruits are cultivated using very few synthetic pesticides, all of which are biodegradable, and no genetic engineering or alteration is involved.

According to Eardley, though there has been no scientific evidence to prove organic fruits and vegetables are richer in nutrients, the reduced use of pesticides promotes the plants’ production of phytochemicals, which play a role in the prevention of disease.

“Phytochemicals act as antioxidants, which neutralize cancer-causing [materials],” Eardley said.

General Manager of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association Sam Edelman said the university’s support of local produce is beneficial to consumers.

“Supporting [local agricultural producers] at farmer’s markets and roadside produce stands is the best way to ensure that you are getting the most conscientiously grown food around,” Edelman said.