CSU salad bars are preparing for a fresh, new makeover.
The Durrell dining hall has partnered with Quatrix Aquaponics, a local greenhouse, to bring students a new variety of produce for their salads. The dining hall is currently in a test period with the company in order to see if using Quatrix is beneficial for the school nutritionally and financially.
Dining hall Executive Chef Cynthia Lategan said she suggested using the LaPorte greenhouse as the provider for Durrell produce in order to help the local economy and give the dining hall an opportunity to buy fresh and quality products. Previously the dining hall used produce from out- of-state farms.
Lategan said because Colorado winters donâ€™t provide much produce, using a greenhouse to harvest produce allows the dining hall to provide more options for students.
â€œI live in LaPorte, so I knew the business, and by using a greenhouse, it enhances the produce,â€ Lategan said. â€œThere are more leaf lettuce varieties, like Lollo Rosa and Oak leaf; it has great flavor, a great texture and itâ€™s just a beautiful produce.â€
The greenhouse uses Tilapia tanks to fertilize the water, which is then used on the plants. This eliminates the need for pesticides and harsher fertilizers to be used on the product.
Though the plants arenâ€™t sprayed by chemical pesticides, the produce grown at Quatrix isnâ€™t classified as organic, or more nutritious than other types of leaf produce, said CSU agricultural professor Neil Hansen.
â€œThe plants fertilized this way are not, by nature, more nutritious or beneficial to consume. The benefit is ecological,â€ Hansen said in an email to the Collegian. â€œRather than synthesizing fertilizers in an energy-demanding process and then transporting and applying them, the fertilizers are naturally produced on-site. The process they are using reduces the energy demand and therefore the carbon footprint of the food.â€
By selling to CSU, Quatrix gets a much larger consumer than they previously had with Durrell buying all of their produce; however, at the moment it is more expensive for the school.
According to Lategan, the price is more expensive, but the yield for the school is less because more of the product is used with Quatrix produce. Because the produce is grown indoors, the dining hall doesnâ€™t have to peel off so many layers off the head of lettuce before it can be suitable for serving.
However, not all students think the switch in produce providers is beneficial for their health. According to freshman nutritional science major Shane Tuya, getting all of the lettuce all from one place is not healthy.
â€œHaving locally grown food is good for Colorado, but you get more nutrients from different soils, so it is better to get stuff from all over instead of just locally stationed,â€ Tuya said. â€œI think it would be better if they went with produce that had more nutritional value, like spinach.â€
If Housing and Dining does decide to use Quatrix as their permanent produce provider after the trial period, students should expect to only see it in Durrell.
â€œThe company doesnâ€™t have a big enough crop to be able to provide for the entire school, plus its other businesses, because of the weeks that we are out of school; it is impractical to have CSU be its only source of revenue,â€ Lategan said.
Collegian writer Taylor Pettaway can be reached at email@example.com.