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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Tim Galarneau: Activist and Researcher


In its March/April 2009 issue, Mother Jones magazine called Tim Galarneau “the Alice Waters of a burgeoning movement of campus foodies.” Galarneau is a co-founder of the Real Food Challenge, a national campaign promoting sustainable food sourcing in college dining halls. In his day job with UCSC’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS), he coordinates the Center’s Farm to College project. Since his undergraduate days at UCSC, Galarneau has helped spearhead numerous initiatives to transform the way the nation’s schools, hospitals and other institutions navigate the high-volume acquisition and preparation of food.

Galarneau and others brought about one such transformation—now a model for other institutions—on their own home ground. Students at UC Santa Cruz look out from their hillside campus over rich agricultural lands, including the 25-acre CASFS farm in their own backyard; yet until 2005, they had little access to locally grown organic food. Now, thanks to several years of collaborative effort by students, staff, and farmers, all of the UCSC dining halls daily serve certified organic produce; they also provide coffee purchased directly from farming communities that have personal relationships with UCSC students and staff, thanks to the UCSC-based Community Agroecology Network (CAN). The campus contracts for organic produce with a consortium of local farmers; carefully developed purchasing guidelines not only prioritize the direct acquisition of local, organic food, but also emphasize equitable labor relationships, environmentally friendly farming practices, humane animal husbandry, and a university food service that is as much about education as about feeding a hungry campus population.

Sarah Rabkin interviewed Tim Galarneau on March 19, 2008, in his office at UCSC’s Oakes College. He described in detail the path that led him into farm-to-institution research and advocacy; he discussed the effort to transform food sourcing at UCSC and elsewhere, the new tools and techniques for social organizing that he and others have successfully employed in service of a food revolution, and his larger vision for the future of food.

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