Since 2016, the refectories and bistros of the Studierendenwerk have increasingly used organic ingredients and food.
"We want to develop university catering sustainably and offer tasty and at the same time healthy food," says Ulrike Laux, Managing Director of the Studierendenwerk. "With organic food, we want to contribute to a world in which a high quality of life is possible for us and our descendants in the future."
We start with the large quantities
In our canteens, where people with limited budgets also dine and where up to 10,000 menus are available every day, this claim is not so easy to implement. A meal can consist of up to 20 ingredients, which is why a complete switch to organic food is much more time-consuming and expensive.
That is why our approach is to start with the products with large purchase quantities. The cooks for example, process en masse popular staple foods, such as potatoes. Therefore, it is not always necessary to change an entire dish to make the catering more sustainable. That is why we check carefully which ingredients and foods we can change over in particularly large quantities.
For example, we buy about 70 tonnes of organic potatoes per year.
Here: Link to the overview of organic articles with quantities instead of at the end of the text.
Mensa guests may ask, "What do I actually get out of it?" The answer is quite simple: quite a bit! A few examples...
• No use of mineral fertilisers and no pesticides, which protects the soil from pollution and contamination.
• Preservation of biological diversity in the soil.
• No impairment of the filter function of the soil for our drinking water.
• Avoidance of harmful greenhouse gases.
• Improving the quality of all our rice dishes.
Does "organic" taste better?
The advantages of organic fruit and vegetables are obvious:
• No growth enhancers and thus a higher intensity of flavour due to a longer ripening period.
• Higher content of secondary plant compounds, dietary fibres and vitamins than in conventional fruit and vegetables.
• Only very low pesticide contamination (the wind carries them out to the organic fields by the so-called airborne contamination from neighbouring conventional farms).
A short anecdote on this: During a test in a Copenhagen zoo, the monkeys proved to have a good sense: while they carefully peeled conventional bananas, they ate the organic bananas including the peel.
For us, the benefits of organic cattle farming and the purchase of organic milk are clear:
• Support of species-appropriate animal husbandry with a focus on animal welfare (higher life expectancy).
• Higher quality of organic milk due to higher content of proteins and omega3 fatty acids.
• Fair wages for dairy farmers.
• No use of antibiotics and concentrated feed from overseas (avoidance of long transport routes and deforestation of rainforests).
All the milk in the bistro for hot drinks or in the refectory meals comes from organic production.
A very popular vegetable has also made it into our organic category - the potato:
It contains less nitrate than conventional potatoes and has a better taste.
We buy our organic eggs in large quantities because we often use them as an ingredient in the dining halls and bistros as well as in our in-house bakery. By the way, a study by the University of Hohenheim found out: organic eggs also have a better flavour! The chickens can eat more plants in the meadow, so the eggs contain more omega-3 fatty acids. The animals themselves can grow up in better living conditions.
Since spring 2020, we have been producing our own organic pasta. In the Mensa Stadtmitte and on the Lichtwiese, two pasta machines produce the finest fresh organic pasta from organic semolina. This gives us full control over the ingredients used and the quality of our dishes.