CSU dining serving local aquaponics produce

Oct. 24—The newest thing on the menu at Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, is locally grown aquaponic produce at the salad bar, according to a university press release.

The department began purchasing the produce earlier this month from a small aquaponics business, located in nearby LaPorte, Colo. Aquaponics is a combination of hydroponic and aquaculture growing techniques, where water is recirculated from tilapia fish tanks to hydro beds that grow lettuce and herbs. The plants receive nutrient-rich water, courtesy of the fish tanks. As the plants are fed they provide a bio-filter that removes 97% of the minerals from the water, which allows fresh water to be returned to the fish tanks. Beneficial bacteria provide a natural fertilizer for the plants. This system to able to grow a head of lettuce in eight weeks, regardless of the time of year, the press release said.

The company CSU is purchasing the produce from, Quatrix, operates the full growing cycle in a greenhouse for plants and an adjacent greenhouse for the fish tanks, where the tilapia are raised. The system reduces pest issues and allows the company to grow produce all year, which helps CSU continue to buy locally during the winter. Deon Lategan, director of residential dining, says the department was contacted by the company and then visited the location to get a sense of how the system worked.

"We were thrilled to have such a wonderful resource so close to campus," Lategan says. "Leaving there, I could not stop thinking about what a great idea it was and wanted to be part of it. Living in Colorado, we don't have many opportunities like this where we can buy great sustainable produce year-round produced locally in such an environmentally friedly manner. Once we were able to negotiate the details and reach an agreement, we took a number of our staff out to tour the facility. We wanted to get them enthusiastic about the prospect of getting local, sustainable produce, which would require additional labor to wash and spin the product dry, as opposed to buying it that way. We had enthusiastic buy in from our staff."

Dining initially plans to purchase nine or 10 cases of leaf lettuce, romaine and basil per week. The release stated that plans are in the works for the department to expand purchases in the future, as well as to look into purchasing the tilapia fish.

"We are currently using Lolla Rosa red leaf, Green Oakleaf and romaine lettuces and fresh basil," Lategan says. "[The lettuces] have wonderful tender buttery texture with a great fresh taste. We are considering adding additional products as they are growing to meet our demand. As they prove they can meet our demand, we will continue to grow that segment of our business. It is a win-win for us to have access to such a great sustainable product and to be able to spend our resources locally and support our community"

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
frozen raspberries

“As a chef, I pretty much have grown up through the business thinking that fresh was always better—produce, fish and meats, especially,” says Ryan Conklin, executive chef for UNC Rex Healthcare’s culinary and nutrition services. “But the more ‘re-educated’ I get, the more I’m learning that some frozen options may be more appropriate for me to be using on my menus.”

Right now, the perception of frozen foods doesn’t match the reality, especially for high-volume foodservice operators, says Conklin. Often, chefs and operators picture not-great product that’s been sitting in a block of...

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

Managing Your Business
wage feud business

As plans to increase the minimum wage surge ahead in states such as New York and California, operators eventually will feel the reverberations shake up labor costs for more than just hourly workers. As associate wages gain on manager salaries, operators will have to answer a call for reciprocal increases. FSD spoke with operators who advised going gently into the brave new world of heightened labor costs, investing in talent and making cuts elsewhere; however, they did offer three perfectly proactive tactics to make the process as seamless as possible.

1. Keep talking

Even though...

Menu Development
craft beer flight
A draw for happy hour...

San Francisco restaurateur Charles Phan plans to serve beer and wine, and depending on liquor licensing, perhaps cocktails as well. “For faculty and staff on campus, it will be a really wonderful place to come to and have a glass of wine,” Wolch says. “Right now, we have The Faculty Club bar, which is a very historic spot, but this is going to be much more contemporary.”

And for morning coffee...

Phan’s plan for made-to-order coffee is bound to be a boon for both faculty and students. “We’ll have a brand-new espresso machine,” Phan says. Wolch adds, “Most...

FSD Resources