design · environment

UW students focus on how to get local food to their dining hall tables

local food madness
getting local foods to a big institution can be tricky.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I am a huge proponent of consciously choosing locally sourced food and products for consumption. Not only does it use less fossil fuels, I think buying and eating local also creates a better, healthier, and more enriching environment for us all.

It’s easy enough for individuals to choose and cultivate local food, but how does a larger institution like a university, or individuals living on campus, get access to the same local goods? One class at the University of Washington did a problem-solving project to come up with solutions to eating local. From the University of Washington:

Recipes that come boxed with fresh ingredients ready to cook? How about a monthlong incentive program inspiring a commitment to fresh local food? What would it take?

The class was Introduction to Interaction Design, Art 381, and the assignment Tad Hirsch gave his students was straightforward: Design a way to improve access to fresh local food on the UW campus.

“The students looked at how the UW community currently feeds itself,” Hirsch said, “and considered a range of factors that currently make it hard for students, faculty and staff to eat locally.” He said they took an interaction design approach to the problem, asking what experiences they wanted to provide for people. “They then had to come up with concrete proposals to make local food more accessible.”

It’s all pretty theoretical for this undergraduate class of mostly juniors, he said. “But we hope to take some of these ideas and make them tangible. There’s the notion that this stuff is meant to go out into the world.”

Hirsch is an assistant professor who came to the UW a couple of months back from Intel Corp. in Oregon. He said he is pleased to be part of the UW’s “small but mighty” program in interaction design.

So, what did the students come up with? Some pretty interesting stuff, actually:

Read their solutions at From crate to plate: Students study how to improve campus access to fresh local food