Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

Cornell Establishes Sustainable Seafood in the Ivy League

In recent years, several food businesses like Costco, Shaw's, Walmart, and Safeway have been knuckling down on sustainable seafood programs and product labeling in order to provide more (accurate) Earth-conscious options for consumers. In fact, a recent study conducted by non-profit Oceana suggested that seafood may be mislabeled as often as 31-58 percent of the time for fish like red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod (Just a heads up - sushi restaurants were the biggest offenders with 58 percent of samples determined to be mislabeled. I'm just as disappointed as you are).

Meanwhile, high up in the gorges and falls of Ithaca, NY, Cornellians (Cornellites?) have been watching over the situation, and decided the time has come to take action. This past month, Cornell University, recognized worldwide for its agriculture and hospitality programs, officially became the first Ivy League school to earn the Marine Stewardship Council's (MSC) Chain of Custody certification for their Dining Program's use of sustainable seafood. The scrupulous audit upholds that fish stock comes from sustainable fisheries that are concerned with the marine ecosystem and is supplied by processors and distributors that also have been approved for sustainable sourcing practices.

"We see our MSC Chain of Custody certification as the logical next step in our commitment to running a truly sustainable food service operation at Cornell, and sourcing seafood that’s certified sustainable is important to our students, staff, and faculty," said Steven W. Miller, senior executive chef for Cornell Dining.

The Marine Stewardhip Council also couldn't be more pleased. “We congratulate Cornell Dining in obtaining its Chain of Custody certification,” said Kerry Coughlin, MSC Regional Director, Americas.

“This is an institution that is famous for encouraging leadership-level thinking and this is no exception.  Students across the country are highly interested in the sustainability of their college and university campuses in every aspect and we anticipate many more dining facilities will join Cornell and other higher education institutions participating in the MSC program as a way to ensure and demonstrate that their environmental responsibility extends to the seafood they serve.”

In all, Cornell manages 32 food service locations serving more than 27,000 customers per day. The university’s culinary commitment to sustainability includes:

  • “Trayless” dining in certain locations, significantly reducing waste and water usage.

  • Increasing the use of locally grown foods from 12 percent to 20 percent, including Cornell's own campus farms, which harvest more than 50,000 pounds of potatoes and 1,200 bushels of corn annually.

  • Providing  fair trade coffee in all locations.

  • Providing reusable, stainless steel coffee mugs in all locations.

  • Biodegradable packaging for grab-and-go items

  • A program to turn more than 515 tons of food scraps and organic waste into compost.

And it's not just Cornell Dining that is dedicated to sustainable causes. The campus' Milstein Hall was just awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council and has over 24,000 square feet of green roofing. Furthermore, Cornell's Climate Action Plan, instated in 2009, aims to neutralize the university's own greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate research and educational efforts to stabilize the planet's climatic changes.

Take that, Harvard.

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia.

Samantha Neary

Samantha is a graduate of Boston University with concentrations in English, Biology and Environmental Policy. After working in higher education textbook publishing for some time, she turned to the freelance writing world and now reports on corporate social responsibility, green technology and policy, and conservation for TriplePundit.

Read more stories by Samantha Neary

More stories from Leadership & Transparency