As Sophomore College draws to a close, and first-years and the rest of us come back to campus, many of us will return and ask each other befuzzledly, I’m hungry — Where should we eat?!
And while some of you may have taken Food and Politics with Rob, Erin Gaines, and co., some others of you might have passed by Slow Food Nation this last weekend in SF.
I myself took part in Slow Food Nation as a youth delegate, attending an Eat-In for young leaders in the good, clean, fair food movement, held this last weekend in Dolores Park.
But let’s skip the trans-fatty introductions for a moment, get the skinny (my skinny) on it, on this question of where (not!) to eat on Campus. This is clearly a biased guide, but then again, that’s what blogs and baedekers are for–to help you find your own way.
What follows is a first draft of a Guide to Sustainable Deliciousness at Stanford. It is both incomplete and not unbiased. But it is a start. With that, let’s eat!
Where to Eat
The following establishments receive an A-class rating/grade in terms of sustainable deliciousness.
A+ — Cool Café at the Cantor Arts Center (hours here) gets one of our highest ratings. As its website reports, this “chic café overlooks the Rodin Sculpture Garden” and offers a “menu of gourment sandwiches, soups, and salads [that] changes seasonally”.
Jesse Ziff Cool’s CoolEatz restaurants make a point of offering regionally and sustainably produced foods. For example, Cool Café often offers pasture-raised chickens, grass-fed beef, and an array of seasonally based salads, fruits, and wines.
Dishes are served on re-usable plates & dishes, with pitchers of water and real silverware nearby. (For a map, see Cool Cafe on Yelp!.)
A+ — Columbae and Synergy House, vegetarian co-ops. Our next two establishments to receive an A+ in sustainable deliciousness are Columbae and Synergy House. Founded in the 1970s, these co-operatively run Houses offer strictly vegetarian fare to their undergrad & grad residents, and “eating associates” that pay a certain board bill every quarter.
Like Cool Café, these co-ops try to source local, sustainable, and ethical food products whenever possible. For example, dairy goods may come from Clover-Stornetta, the first dairy in the States to be American Humane Certified, flour may come from Giusto’s–the brand favored by artisan bread bakers–and produce may come from co-located gardens tended by hand.
Also like Cool Café, these co-ops offer easy access to composting bins, and err on the side of container and silverware re-use. (You can find these Houses on the Campus Map. If you’d like to try the food some time at these co-ops, talk to a friend that lives there or a student manager for more details.)
A — Nexus / Bytes. Nexus and Bytes, two cafes located near the Engineering campus, offer tasty dishes, re-usable plates & silverware, and fast service. Unlike Cool Cafe or co-ops on campus, these establishments may or may not serve organic, sustainable, or fairly-traded goods. More research is needed to understand the provenance of their meats, dairy, and vegetables.
The following establishments receive a B:
B+ — Treehouse. A Stanford student favorite, although the Treehouse hands out an excess of plastic and cardboard containers every day, food quality is generally high, with reportedly hand-made focaccia breads (para tortas) and “fresh” chicken, whatever that means. (At Tresidder.)
B- — Thai Cafe. Another hit-and-run establishment favored by students who need to grab a quick meal between classes. Props for the price and speed, but synthetic food service containers abound. No claims made on where the Chicken Sautee comes from, and it seems unlikely that the Shrimp offered are raised in a highly sustainable way.
Where not to Eat
The following establishments receive a C-class grade, or lower, in terms of sustainable deliciousness.
C+ — the (old) CoHo. Please don’t eat here. Say No to the CoHo(‘s food), or, if you feel the need to support their business, bring your need-to-gain-weight friends or you buddies who were unblessed with a lack of tastebuds (non-tasters as they say on Wikipedia) and have them eat here.
I posted a review on the CoHo re-opening earlier this year, but have to downgrade my rating based on further experience at this Corporate Bread-serving institution, where I was served sandwiches and Vienoisserie that looked decent but tasted… far from decent.
The CoHo does sometimes serve food on an actual plate, but the questionable ingredients, taste, and food sourcing bring the sustainable deliciousness rating down to our lowest score of the bunch, a C+.
(05-SEP-08) Update: I have retracted the previous paragraphs as per in-depth interviews I had today with multiple staff members, bakers, and managers at the new CoHo. While the old CoHo still has some length to go towards sustainable deliciousness, it’s clearer from my discussions today that they are headed in a great direction. Thus, I will abstain from re-grading the new CoHo until these new measure are applied (hopefully soon after the school year begins), and describe these improvements in another post.
For more information about the history of sustainable deliciousness (or lack thereof) at Stanford, check out the following TUSB blog posts:
“what Stanford eats“, “Eating (or not) at Stanford“, “The Axe & Palm’s Hidden Calories“.
For a view beyond our little Farm, visit Ethicurean.com or read the books of Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, or Singer’s Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter.