I have found food to be the solution to most problems in life. Hungry? Eat. Tired? Eat. Upset? Eat. Need to celebrate? Eat. Now, food also seems to be the answer to recent budget cuts in public financing for universities. Bookstores on campus are now selling... Wagyu beef.
Earlier this month, Kirk Johnson of the New York Times published an article about Washington State University's Premium Beef, available for purchase for $9.50 a pound. While the market for sweatshirts and mugs can become saturated and overdone, the need for beef is constant, especially in our burger and fries nation. In a time when foodies abound and money is tight for institutes of higher education, university food production might be the answer for many more schools. Joining Cornell Dairy Ice Cream, Texas A & M Jerky, and University of Idaho Vandal Brand Meats, W.S.U. Wagyu beef could be the beginning of a trend in higher education.
Concluding the article with indisputable numbers, "university officials said that with nearly 25,000 students on four campuses and beyond that tens of thousands of alumni and extended family members, there is no shortage of potential customers." Will university produced food really become the next foam finger?
Email addresses of students and alumni provide an accessible and cost efficient platform for advertising. Local, university owned resources do not cost extra or demand more employees. With that being said, are there any shortcomings to this food solution to an economic problem? The recent rise in food yuppies and locavores supports the initiative. Alumnae and students support the initiative. But will it really catch on? The real question is, does it need to?
University food production need not become the next college t-shirt. Not every college or university has the resources to produce local foodstuffs. Honeycrisp apples, grown upstate, could be transported to the big apple itself to alumnae and students at New York University, but the transportation cost and partnership with local farmers might be more hassle than final payoff. University food branding isn't for everyone.
So let it be. Let the foodies of W.S.U have their Wagyu beef. Let the Cornell graduates have their alma mater produced ice cream. Whether or not the trend makes it big, the overall theme of food as a solution to economic problems remains. If food is the solution here, what else could it be the answer to?