Fifth annual Food Day comes to Coffman

The event features student and community groups to promote sustainability and healthy living.

Attendees fill the Great Hall of Coffman Memorial Union during Food Day UMN in 2013.

Courtesy of Emily Bruns

Attendees fill the Great Hall of Coffman Memorial Union during Food Day UMN in 2013.

by Grace Kramer

College diets are often associated with outrageous amounts of ramen noodles and microwave-friendly meals. Food Day UMN wants to challenge those ideas and prove to students that healthy eating in college is possible, beneficial and occasionally cheaper. 
This year, Food Day UMN comes to Coffman Union for its fifth time.
“We’re trying to bring in as many different groups as we can to promote that idea of sustainability and healthy diets and healthy living,” said junior sociology and political science major and student coordinator Emily Bruns.
Food Day is a national event that encourages Americans to change their diets and government policies related to food. In 2014, more than 8,000 Food Day events took place across the country.
Food Day UMN is set up as an expo and features local groups from both the University of Minnesota and the broader community. The groups come together to educate students on a variety of food-related topics.
This year’s nationwide theme will be “Toward a Greener Diet.” 
“Some of the topics that will be present are healthy eating, correcting people’s diets, different things that groups see need to be changed, how cattle and poultry are raised,” senior kinesiology major and co-coordinator of the event Max Krajnik said.
The event chooses groups who can speak to the theme of the day.
“The theme of Food Day really just fits into our goals,” said Evelina Knodel, a senior architecture major and president of U Students Like Good Food. “The food we eat and the way it’s produced is such a vital part of protecting the environment and carbon emissions.”
U Students Like Good Food is a student group that focuses on the social aspect of food by having cooking parties. The group addresses various aspects of the food system such as the growing of food, supporting local growers, humane treatment of animals and the treatment of the farm workers growing the food.
“Students are a very unique group of people — we’re always stressed out. We think we have no time to cook,” Knodel said. “But that isn’t just students; it is a major global issue. I think that it’s really good to start healthy eating habits here, if not younger.”
Along with healthy eating, Food Day features groups that address the humane treatment of animals.
Compassionate Action for Animals is a group that advocates for animals, specifically farm animals. 
“Most people care about animals, but most people’s behaviors are very inconsistent,” Unny Nambudiripad, a staff member of the group, said.
The group also encourages its member to move toward a plant-based diet. 
“We encourage people to take whatever steps they can,” Nambudiripad said. “For some that is reducing their consumption of meat.For some that’s becoming vegetarian. For some that’s becoming vegan.”
Organic food is often thought to be more expensive, but some of the healthiest foods are actually cost-effective. 
“There are a couple of groups featured that are trying to teach how to eat well on a budget,” Bruns said. “Teaching students what it’s like to have a greener diet but how to do it on a budget as well.”
Many groups featured in the event attest to the fact that healthy eating is often the much cheaper option.
“The most nutrient-dense per dollar foods are broccoli, kale, beans and other inexpensive, healthy foods,” Nambudiripad said.
Compassionate Action for Animals and U Students Like Good Food are just two groups hoping to make a change in the minds of students regarding food.
“The spreading of knowledge is my number-one goal for Food Day,” Knodel said. “That more than one student will walk away knowing something about food and the food system that they didn’t know before, making them look at food in a different way.”