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The Daily Wildcat

 

Union adds organic options

Valentina Martinelli / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Cellar offers healthy options such as grass fed burgers.
Valentina Martinelli
Valentina Martinelli / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Cellar offers healthy options such as grass fed burgers.

Several restaurants in the Student Union Memorial Center received menu makeovers this year, with more options on the way.

The changes are especially focused on healthy and organic choices, according to Victoria Christie, assistant director of dining services for Arizona Student Unions. Among the new dishes are sustainably farmed or caught fish entrees at the Cellar Bistro and whole-grain salads at 3 Cheeses & a Noodle.

The revised menus come as an update to the restaurants, many of which opened with the remodeled student union in 2003.  

“”There were some menus that simply had not been changed for a long time,”” Christie said. “”So we decided to take it on, full-tilt boogie, and go nuts.””

Along with menu changes, UA-run restaurants will make the switch to organic frozen yogurt as early as this week. The yogurt will be sold in all locations, including Cactus Grill and U-Mart.

“”That to me is exciting,”” Christie said. “”And that is a direction we’re trying to take. We’ve been going in that direction for quite awhile, but we’re really, really pushing hard.””

Christie said the success of restaurants like the Cellar shows student support for the endeavor.

“”We’re making a move for other restaurants as well,”” Christie said. “”The Cellar was kind of the flagship, or pilot to see how it’d be received. It’s very obvious to us that our customers want that. They want sustainable, they want natural, they want compostable, and we’re going to give it to them.””

Many restaurants in the student union already use natural, organic or local products. All the chicken used in UA-run restaurants is hormone- and antibiotic-free, and the burgers and bratwurst served at the Cellar are produced in Arizona. Additionally, tomatoes and cucumbers come from a UA farm several months out of the year.

The offerings have environmental benefits as well as nutritional ones.

“”They have some really fantastic environmentally-friendly options. If you go out to most restaurants you can’t find this stuff,”” said Hana Feeney, nutrition counselor for Campus Health Service. “”An organic, grass-fed burger means something environmentally but also nutritionally.””

Feeney recommends the new lentil salad or tabouli, a Mediterranean parsley and bulgur salad, at 3 Cheeses & a Noodle, as well as entrees at the Cellar. The dishes not only keep students healthier down the road but also have positive short-term affects.

“”The here and now is huge,”” Feeney said. “”If you have that typical fried food lunch, you’re more full, your concentration is worse and you have larger fluctuations.””

Healthy choices are ready available with a little searching, according to Feeney.

“”There really are some great options there,”” she said.

Some students look for these healthy and organic choices when eating at the student union.

“”It’s really nice to see,”” said Jessica Anderson, a freshman majoring in public management and policy. “”Especially with a lot of my family in food service, they tell me to go that direction.””

Other students do not look for the distinction when making meal selections.

“”I just don’t really see it as something important to look for,”” said mathematics freshman Brandon Kerr, adding he was indifferent toward the new options. “”It wouldn’t really make much of a difference to me.””

Christie plans on introducing other organic food to the student union, including pasta, tomato sauce and cheese. She is also trying to bring organic, hydroponic lettuce to Core but said it can be difficult to find suppliers capable of handling the job.

“”The problem with most little guys is they cannot keep up with our production,”” Christie said. “”I mean, it’s just overwhelming.””

Dining Services changes menus based on input from student surveys. Christie said organic offerings are an increasingly popular request.

“”It’s important because (students) wanted it,”” Christie said. “”It’s important because I think we need it. The awareness is huge. It’s so different from even five years ago. And we have to stay on top.””

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