Health and Well-being Local eating

The farm-to-table lifestyle

When considering one’s environmental footprint, diet is not typically an aspect that is stressed. But what we eat and where our food comes from both have a significant impact on our environment and community—on a local and global scale. And maintaining a locally sourced diet, with an emphasis on shortening the time between harvest and consumption, can have significant personal benefits.

“Locally sourcing harvests the item at its peak ripeness, which is important in obtaining nutrients,” said Kevin Erickson, the Urban Agriculture Coordinator at Loyola’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability. “Reducing the time allows for fresher product that tastes better and has more nutrition.”

And in many circumstances, this reduces the cost of items as well. Erickson said that since the distance products are being transported is less, locally sourced diets result in “less fossil fuels, less energy to store produce,” and benefit local economies. They’re also an investment in local communities by stimulating tax revenue and putting local farmland to use, and locally sourced products allow for more transparency between the seller and the buyer.

“When there’s no middleman between the farmer and the consumer, it allows the consumer to ask questions,” Erickson said. Buying locally can even improve food safety; the shorter the traveling distance, the less fewer people come in contact with the food.

There's also another option for obtaining locally-sourced foods: Those with the means, the space, and the know-how can always grow their own. Here at Loyola, students and faculty at the Institute of Environmental Sustainability manage several gardens, cultivating fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. They even keep watch over two beehives on the Lake Shore Campus, extracting wax and honey. And up the road at Loyola’s Retreat and Ecology Campus (LUREC) in Woodstock, Illinois, an on-site farm fully sustains the center’s dining hall.

Then there’s Loyola’s Urban Ag, a student organization that manages several campus gardens and aquaponic centers, promoting the design principle of permaculture. With the help of over 300 student volunteers and employees, Urban Ag harvests thousands of pounds of produce each year. Through these programs, Loyola’s sustainability efforts work in tandem to educate and benefit the surrounding community.

At LUREC, executive chef John Schnupp relies on ingredients that are as local as they come: produce harvested from the facility's four acres of vegetable and perennial gardens. Ingredients make their way from the farm directly to the state-of-the-art Duchossois Food Systems Lab and Kitchen, where Schnupp transforms them into a variety of seasonal dishes.

The kitchen is designed to create an educational experience through classes that highlight food preparation in a way that is sustainable, healthy, and fun. Culinary classes are offered as part of retreat packages at LUREC, and individual cooking classes are scheduled each season to provide a hands-on experience for preparing a variety of foods. (A complete schedule of upcoming classes can be found here.)

If you'd like to get a taste of what Schnupp is cooking up in LUREC's kitchen, here are a couple of his favorite healthy recipes made using items from the fall harvest.

Green House Greens Harvest Salad

Serves four

  • 6 ounce mixed greens
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 4 small cooked beets
  • 6 ounce cooked fingerling potatoes
  • ¼ cup diced cornichons
  • ½ cup red onion, sliced
  1. Cook beets until tender, peel skin while warm. Small dice and toss in pickling marinade (see below).
  2. Cook potatoes until tender. Slice potatoes.
  3. Combine greens, potatoes, beets, cranberries, and diced cornichons and onion in bowl and toss gently.
  4. Gently toss salad mix with warm vinaigrette.

Pickling marinade

  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  1. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl.
  2. Add diced beets, toss, and let marinade for 15-20 minutes.

Warm vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp. fresh sage, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Toast sage over open flame till fragrant. Remove leaves from stem and rough chop.
  2. Combine mustard, honey, garlic, cider vinegar, and chopped sage in small sauce pan place on stove on low heat and stir.
  3. Using a wire whisk, slowly trickle in olive oil to warm mix until mixed. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Vegetable Enchilada with Radish Salsa and Chipotle Tomato White Wine Sauce

Serves four

Enchilada ingredients:
  • 4 large cabbage leaves
  • 1½ cup sliced kale, swiss chard, or beet greens
  • 2 whole jalapeño pepper, roasted
  • 1 medium whole poblano pepper, roasted
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 2 cup cooked brown rice
  • ¼ cup diced white onion
  • 1 tsp Tahini paste
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup goat cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Blanch cabbage leaves until tender. Cool in cold water.
  2. Slice greens and place in large mixing bowl.
  3. Roast peppers over open flame until charred. Place in small bowl and cover with plastic and let rest 15-20 minutes. Once rested, rough chop peppers with skins and seeds and add to slice greens bowl.
  4. Add black beans, cooked brown rice, onion, tahini paste, lime juice, and ¼ cup of goat cheese to the greens and pepper bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix to incorporate all ingredients.
  5. Remove cabbage leaves from cold water, lay out flat and pat dry.
  6. Divide filling into four portions.
  7. Place filling on cabbage leaf, fold sides over, and roll up to make enchilada.
  8. In a small roasting pan, add half of chipotle tomato white wine sauce to pan. Add enchiladas and top with remaining sauce.
  9. Crumble remaining goat cheese over enchiladas and bake in oven at 350°F for 35-40 minutes.
  10. Plate enchiladas and garnish with radish salsa.

Chipotle tomato white wine sauce

  • 2½ cups tomato sauce
  • 1 whole ancho pepper
  • 1 chipotle pepper
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In large sauce pan, toast ancho pepper over medium heat until fragrant.
  2. Add chopped garlic, chipotle pepper, lime juice, and white wine to sauce pan and simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add sauce to blender and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Radish salsa

  • 2 cups radish, rough chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ½ tsp. chopped garlic
  • 2-3 tsp. lime juice
  1. Combine all ingredients in bowl, toss and let rest for 10 minutes.
The path to health and well-being

Looking for more? Find tips and advice from Loyola's experts, and discover the work we do to advance health care and medicine.