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Davis, California

Friday, March 1, 2024

A Davis feast


Campus food resources allow affordable seasonal recipes

Orange is the new black as fall season is in full swing. Pumpkins, squash, pies, cinnamon lattes and other fall favorites have finally made it to the table. There are various ways for students to enjoy the spirit of autumn in their meals, even on a college budget. Using on campus and local resources can provide cheap and easy ways to do so.

One excellent food resource for students is the ASUCD Pantry, located in the basement of Freeborn Hall. Students only need to present their UC Davis identification cards and can take up to three meals or items per day.

Anne Adachi, a second-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior (NPB) major, volunteers at the Pantry.

“The Pantry is a student-run on campus food closet,” Adachi said. “We run on the idea that students shouldn’t have to skip out on meals while they are [earning] their degree. We are trying to promote nutritious meals and to have better [food] options, especially with fresh produce.”

The Pantry is doing more than helping students meet basic nutritional needs. They are also working to provide a greater variety of food, both culturally and seasonally.

“We are actually trying to promote more culturally diverse foods,” said Reeta Asmai, a first-year NPB major and fellow volunteer at the Pantry. “We are [also] working with the Student Farm to create little recipes with fresh produce.”

Trying to make meals while balancing time, money and nutrition is not an easy task for anyone in today’s society, let alone busy college students trying not to add to their loans. Another one of the Pantry’s volunteers, Chesna Pokharel, a second-year psychology major, has worked hard to keep this balance in her own life.

“There are a lot of different food resources on campus,” Pokharel said. “We are one, and the Student Health and Wellness Center offers fresh produce [with Fruit and Veggie Up!]. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make good food, you just need to think about how you are spending money beforehand, and know all your resources to use them well. ”

Another source for fresh produce and tasty treats is the Davis Farmer’s Market on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. The market is filled with reasonably-priced, seasonal organic produce along with honey, homemade jams and more.

Bernice Hatfield runs her family’s stand, Fruit Tree Field, at the market. Hatfield grows Asian vegetables which are key ingredients in many seasonal Chinese dishes. She also sells fresh homemade jams and other fresh produce.

“Usually we only have winter squash in the winter, and we grow some Asian vegetables for Chinese New Year,” Hatfield said. “This Chinese holiday is in February, and you can make many things for it with the Asian vegetables. One [dish] you can make is a hot pot with cooked meats and an assortment of vegetables.”

A few stalls down is farmer Jackson Vu’s family stand. Vu brings a variety of fresh vegetables to market and knows how each of his items can be used at home.

“We have Chinese broccoli — the whole thing is edible, even the flowers,” Vu said. “It actually adds extra flavor to it, making it sweet. You can saute it with olive oil and garlic, and do the same thing with spinach. Or you could just steam the spinach and put it in salads, something simple if you don’t have a stove.”

Since he grows and cooks his own food, he has an array of simple yet delicious dishes students can create.

“We’ve got Japanese sweet potatoes, which are white on the inside,” Vu said. “I’ve made potato wedges [with the sweet potatoes] — I’ll cut them up, put them on a plate, wrap the wedges in wet napkins, and put them in the microwave for a little over two minutes. The napkin actually acts as a steamer, so you’ll see the napkin float while the inside’s actually cooking.”

Students should also look out for some handy recipes specific for the Davis area in The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook.

Luckily, there are many different resources on campus and around town that can help students maximize their experiences at UC Davis, especially when it comes to making home-cooked meals. It is not impossible to find some balance in prioritizing nutrition and taste while on a budget.

“You just have to look around and find those things that work for you,” Pokharel said.


Written by: Sahiti Vemula — features@theaggie.org


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