Pizza served near the 24 hour library not quite as energy sustaining as you thought? You’re not alone. Across the country, students have been pushing for more healthy, sustainable (for your health and community health) food on campus. Before you reach for that 2nd burger with your dining dollars like it’s your only option, think twice. A tastier and healthier option might be more accessible than you think.

You don’t have to be a Michael Pollan aficionado or have $4.00 to spend on an enormous organic apple to appreciate how awesome healthy fresh food is for your mind and body. The Slow Food Movement has been slowly overtaking college campuses since the early 2000s, and it’s a terrific way to get involved with local agriculture and your college community. You can invest in your college, your local surroundings, and your own health by investing in local slow food.

If one doesn’t exist at your college already, here are some easy tips to get started: http://www.slowfoodusa.org/downloads/New_SFOC_Chapter_Checklist.pdf

If you’re not totally sold on the time commitment, checking out Community Supported Agriculture (also known as CSAs) can be an affordable way to invest in healthy eating on a budget. If you’re living off campus, grab a group of friends and sign up together. Find one near you here: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

With films like, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” popularizing the importance of raw, nutritious foods, and Whole Foods popping up in many neighborhoods, healthy eating is becoming more mainstreamed all the time. The costs are still high, which is why focusing as close to the roots as possible is important if you are on a budget. Farm shares, CSAs, Campus Farms, and The Slow Food Movement can help you invest in your health and in your financial future as well. Even checking out a local farmers market or farm stand can be cheaper (and more exciting) than stopping by a pricier organic food store.

Totally sold on the raw foods? Investing in a juicer (masticating juicers are worth the investment if you can afford one, as their slower speed produces less enzyme killing heat) can cut the caffeine cravings, pump up your immune system, and—practical health aside—make your skin look gorgeous! If you are off-campus, a CSA can make this a more economical endeavor. Buying green juice at the store can run you upwards of four bucks, but with a CSA, you can cut that down as you cut up your own veggies.

In need of an elective next semester? One of my favorite courses was in the Nutrition and Food Sciences division at my school, where a cooking class was offered. I had the time of my life, learned so much about local food, and finally learned how to correctly chop an onion.

Never underestimate how awesome it is to be able to nourish your own body, and it’s amazing experience to take pride in a meal you prepared yourself for friends and family.

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Now, whether you’re ready to spearhead the new Slow Food chapter at your college and you’ve been sautéing kale in garlic since high school, or you’re going to grab some green juice at the cafe instead of coffee—you’ll be feeling more sustainable in no time.

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About Julia K