The student-run program is currently holding monthly tasting events to establish the menu of a proposed sustainable food cart.
Student-run food program Isla Carte is holding monthly tasting events for their proposed food cart program, with the goal of launching by Fall 2017.
Isla Carte’s food cart program aims to launch another food cart on campus, similar to the Wahoo’s and Die Bretzel food carts located in the Arbor, to provide students with organic, local and sustainable food options on campus. The food cart will be primarily run by university student employees Monday through Friday and be under the same regulation as other restaurants on campus. The organization will be picking the menu based on the most popular food items sold at their monthly food tasting events.
Laney Ennis, fourth-year environmental studies major, said the organization’s goal is to have generous portions with affordable prices for students.
“We want it to be food that can fill somebody up,” Ennis said. “Our number one priority is that it’s local, and we make sure that everything we use is organic.”
Ennis said she took over Isla Carte after the organization’s leaders graduated last year, to provide students with healthy and local food options.
“A lot of our farming system is really messed up and really dominated by these huge corporations,” Ennis said. “I really wanted to do something that brings back local farms and more sustainable agriculture and gives students an on-campus option for that.”
Ennis said one of the organization’s goals is to lower prices for sustainable food through seasonal shopping to avoid paying extra for imported foods, cutting back on meat and buying “ugly” fruits and vegetables.
“It really doesn’t have to be more expensive and we’re basically going to be doing the work for you,” Ennis said. “We’re going to be looking at what the cheapest sustainable foods are, because we really want to bring prices down to something that all students can afford.”
Ennis said while most of their food is sourced from I.V. Co-op, Isla Carte is trying to build relationships with local farmers.
“When we think about what we want to serve, there are so many aspects to look at. You can look at water use, how far it had to be transported, what chemical fertilizers they’re using,” Ennis said. “That’s where a lot of the thinking and menu-planning has to come in. We can do that so you don’t have to.”
Austen Trout, second-year physics major, said he respects the group’s mission but personally does not care about the origins of his food ingredients.
“It seems like they have good intentions, and they’re trying to do something that is unique,” Trout said. “As long as my food doesn’t kill me, I’m fine with it. I’m not that picky about where it comes from or who made it.”
Michael Lin, second-year theater major, said the most accessible eating choice for sustainable food is the dining commons.
“The dining commons have taken strides to becoming healthier and more sustainable, but going another full step forward would be great … if it’s maybe cheaper than the dining meal plans,” Lin said.
Alexa Rogalski, second-year biology major, said she thinks the food cart is a “great idea” and will broaden the selection of food available on campus.
“It’s a good option for people who don’t like the food on campus. I don’t feel like the food on campus is really healthy, so having a healthy option would be awesome,” Rogalski said. “If it’s sustainable that’s an even bigger plus.”
A version of this story appeared on p. 5 of the Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 edition of the Daily Nexus.