For a Day, Local Food Fuels Cavalier Football Team

August 07, 2008

Photo by Dan Addison

August 7, 2008 — The University of Virginia's football players are eating healthy — and local.

The fare at the players' tables for three meals Thursday was all from Virginia, part of the "Eat Local for a Day" campaign championed by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

"Nutritionally, it's no great hardship," Rob Skinner, U.Va.'s director of sports nutrition, said. "It's good for the environment, it saves fuel and it is fresher."

Executive chef Tim Saul walked along the buffet line, pointing to the pesto made with Virginia basil, the marinara sauce made with local tomatoes and penne pasta produced within the Commonwealth.

"This is local chicken that was running around the yard two days ago," Saul said. "It is hormone-free and free-range."

August is an ideal time of year for an eat-local day, Saul said, since there is an abundance of fresh, ripe vegetables available. In general, U.Va. Dining is making an effort to incorporate more local foods into its menus when available.

Offensive lineman Eugene Monroe was impressed with the freshness of the selections.
"When I look back on what I was eating on my own before we had all of this, I am able to see the value of what I am putting in my body now," he said.

Skinner said many of the team members are becoming more nutritionally conscious and he said many of them worked on their diets during the off season to reduce fat and increase muscle mass.

"I ask the athletes if they are good because of what they are doing, or despite what they are doing," Skinner said. "If they are good despite what they are doing, imagine what they can do if they take care of themselves."