LAURINBURG — While the energy industry is slowly moving away from fossil fuels, the food industry is transforming in the same way, according to Mac Legerton, who was at St. Andrews University Wednesday to talk about organic farming global warming and volunteering.
Legerton, who serves as executive director of the Center for Community in Lumberton, spoke about sustainable farming to about 60 SAU seniors and a handful of professors at the Hagan Choral Room. The nonprofit center has been an advocate for local food movement for many years.
Legerton said more and more consumers are realizing that their health is dependent on the health and cleanliness of the plants and animals that they consume. He said people need to consume healthier food, not only to sustain life for as long as possible but also as well as possible.
“We have to move as a society from what we call the industrial age to the ecological age,” Legerton said. Sustainable farming is one step in the direction, according to Legerton.
“The two major polluters in our society are the fossil fuels industry and the agriculture industry,” he added.
A local food supply was once the only option for Americans, but with the advancements in the agricultural industry through pesticides, fertilizing, machinery and seeds from agriculture super power, Monsanto, the glory days of local farmers all but disappeared.
But with with recent organizations like Feast Down East — the region’s largest local food support and development organization — and its promotion of local food hubs that allow local farmers to distribute more crop, local organic farmers are stepping back into the picture.
St. Andrews University has also joined that effort this year with a new requirement that all seniors complete 10 hours of volunteer work as a part of St. Andrews General Education.
“The goal is to put a food hub up here and start with the universities in the area as our clients,” Legerton said.
The school has partnered with Legerton, a St. Andrews alumni, to allow students to volunteer with local sustainable farmers as part of the student’s education, but also help with the push for sustainable farming practices in the area.
Several local farmers were in attendance Wednesday to talk about why they have chosen to grow sustainable crops. Among them was Eddie Moore, co-owner of Moore Brothers Natural non-GMO beef. Moore, raises his cattle on a vegetarian diet and refuses to sell any beef that was exposed to antibiotics or hormones.
“If an animal gets sick, we will treat them and give them antibiotics to recover, but we will sell them off when they become healthy again,” Moore said. “We are that serious about not using antibiotics and the non-GMO beef taste better.”
Wendy Woolard, owns Autryville’s Buzz hydroponic farm and mostly sells her micro-greens at farmers markets, including one in Southern Pines every Saturday.
“Customers can grow their own micro greens and cut them from the stem and put them into an omelet — it doesn’t get much fresher than that,” Woolard said.
Roderick McMillan, owner of the MG3 farm in Maxton, also spoke.
“I turned an old tobacco house into the green house we grow our lettuce out out of,” McMillan said. “We can produce over 5,000 heads of lettuce a week.”
The students who got to try the natural lettuce said they could taste the difference.
Brian Johnson, the director of the Pioneer Food Service cafeteria at St. Andrews, said he would like to see local organic and all natural produce on the university’s salad bar.
“I would love to have a sign on the salad bar that says that the lettuce was grown locally and harvested by MG3 farms in Maxton five days ago,” Johnson said.
He also said he is interested in featuring local non-GMO beef a couple of times a month.
“I think it’s great Brian Johnson is open to new ideas and is concerned about the environment,” said Dr. Tim Beach-Verhey, St. Andrews dean of students.
St. Andrews will be the next university added to the growing list of colleges in the region choosing to buy local, including The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and The University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Claire Hopson, a senior at St. Andrews and the president of the universities Environmental Club said she plans to see how her club can help with these efforts.
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171