Organic food products may not be a common sight on campus, but UCLA Dining Services and Associated Students UCLA restaurants are hoping to make organic options more widely available.
Connie Foster, director of dining services, said her goal is to provide cost-effective organic options that meet the needs of the students.
“Pete Angelis (the assistant vice chancellor for housing and hospitality services) and I have been meeting to see where we can implement organic and sustainable items,” Foster explained.
Currently, organic food products can be found on campus in the form of tea and vegan cheese pizzas at Puzzles CafÃ©.
In addition, all of the residential restaurants feature organic tofu, which Foster said is purchased at a cost-effective price.
Foster said Dining Services plans to unveil a more concrete plan for organic options in a few weeks, when administrators will have discussed the issue further and have received input from students.
Though plans for organic items are not concrete, Foster said Dining Services has been introducing other healthier items.
“We have a new executive pastry chef who has brought in bran muffins and trans-fat-free bakery items,” she said.
The dining halls also recently introduced pesticide-free spring mix, vegetarian and vegan green casseroles, and leaner sandwich meats.
Another recent arrival on the hill is fair-trade coffee at Puzzles CafÃ©. Diana Ionescu, a third-year international development studies student and a member of the Social Justice Alliance, said fair-trade products are made with a living wage for laborers and funds for community development.
“Fair trade funds programs such as schools and utilizes environmentally and economically sustainable agriculture,” Ionescu said.
Ionescu added that all ASUCLA coffee shops feature fair-trade coffee, at a cost of only a few extra cents a cup.
Besides fair trade coffee, ASUCLA has been phasing in organic products at its restaurants and eateries, said Cindy Bolton, director of ASUCLA restaurants.
The main organic products featured at ASUCLA-operated businesses are pre-packaged sandwiches from Organic to Go, which is an outside company, Bolton said.
“Organic to Go is a company that sells certified organic products and has its own space in the North Campus Student Center,” she said.
Organic to Go updated its menu at the beginning of this month, and now features organic pastas and breakfast sandwiches.
In addition to Organic to Go, Bolton said the other ASUCLA business with organic items is the Greenhouse eatery.
Greenhouse primarily serves organic items in the form of packaged whole grain products. Bolton said ASUCLA does not track the popularity of the organic items, but added that the Greenhouse reports strong sales.
Despite the number of organic options, some students said there was not enough organic visibility on campus.
“I find it’s difficult to tell which items in the dining halls and restaurants are organic,” commented Yesenia Cisneros, a second-year sociology and women’s studies student.
Despite the added expense, Cisneros said she would probably be willing to spend more if organic food was readily available on campus.
She said organic food is healthier and tastes better, and she hopes to see more options in the dining halls and at campus restaurants.
Bolton, a self-described “organic food connoisseur,” said she wants to introduce more organic options at ASUCLA restaurants, despite the higher price tag.
“It can be difficult finding organic products, but we are always searching for more options, and we may add organic steamed vegetables to the Greenhouse in the near future,” Bolton said.
She added that organic items have been received well so far, and if customer demand increases, so will their availability.
“If customers are willing to pay, we will incorporate more (organic items) into our business model,” Bolton said.