Teaching Your Kids to Eat Local and Organic in College

Getting your child to eat right is nothing if not a chore, and once he flies the coop for the halls of higher learning you’ll have even less control over what he chooses to shove down his gullet. There’s a reason the freshman fifteen is the norm for first-year college students; the minute they’re out from under the watchful gaze of their parents they go mad with power, reveling in their ability to stay out late, attend frat parties on school nights, and eat whatever sugary, salty, greasy concoction of carbs and preservatives they want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s enough to make you recoil in horror just considering it. However, you can find ways to help your college-bound kid adopt healthier eating habits even as he works to feed his mind.

There’s no denying that eating well in college can be difficult, especially considering that most kids are not at all used to fending for themselves when it comes to food. Sure you can get your college student a meal plan, but most campuses don’t offer the organic and locally-sourced options you’d like to see your child consuming. And the chances that he’ll actually eat every meal in the cafeteria are pretty slim anyway. It’s more likely he’ll survive on junk food from the vending machines and whatever cheap-o diners he can find within a few blocks of campus. However, you can definitely help him to find better options.

For example, you can take the time to research restaurants in proximity to campus that offer an organic menu or at least purchase goods from area farms (thus cutting carbon emissions produced through transport). And convincing your child to frequent these eateries is just as easy as loading up gift cards specific to the restaurants you’d like him to eat at. Any hungry kid that’s low on funds is fairly likely to make a beeline for the free food, so you can easily steer your wayward student towards restaurants that are better for him and the planet. However, you can also have food delivered directly to him.

Co-ops of farmers growing organic crops have sprung up across the country and you may be able to take advantage of the fresh, chemical-free produce they grow. All you have to do is sign your college kid up to receive regular deliveries (and pay for the service yourself). Many offer fruits, vegetables, or mixed boxes, and you may also be able to order ready-mades (like chopped salads or fruit smoothies) and even animal products such as eggs and milk. Although most college students don’t enjoy private kitchens in their dorms, a room equipped with a mini fridge and a microwave should do the trick since most of these items will require no cooking to enjoy.

You might have trouble pushing your college kid towards an organic agriculture program, a major in sustainable manufacturing, or a health information management degree, but you can help to ensure that he eats a little healthier during his time on campus. By providing him with healthy options and making them more desirable than the alternative you can encourage him to eat the local and organic fare that will nourish his body and protect the environment. The rest is up to him.