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Universities Make Gourmet Foods

Student-staffed farms, creameries, and ranches offer homegrown goodies for sale. Here's nine colleges that are some of the best in the West.

cheese makers at Utah State University by vat, image
Photo caption
Utah State University cheese makers learn to mind their curds and whey.
College food doesn’t have to mean Red Bull and nachos during midnight cram sessions. At universities across the West, student-staffed farms, creameries, and ranches offer homegrown goodies for sale. Here’s where to shop for the best.

  • California State University, Fresno You’ll find olive oil, meat, fruit, veggies, and dairy products at the farm market, not to mention an outstanding merlot and other bottlings from the only college winery in the nation licensed to sell what it produces. (559) 278-4511,
  • Cal Poly, Pomona The farm store is a real cornucopia—avocados, sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelon, citrus, U-pick strawberries. Don’t miss the honey and the meats. (909) 869-4906,
  • Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo Thanks to a herd of 180-plus Holstein and Jersey cows and a gleaming creamery, the cheese stands alone—Gouda, chipotle Jack, and Swiss. (805) 756-6644,
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis This November, a new state-of-the-art creamery will turn milk from the campus dairy herd into a still-unnamed cheese, the first the college will sell to the public in more than 30 years. (541) 737-8322.
  • University of California, Davis Wolfskill—a peppery blend of 50 olive varieties—is one of four extra-virgin oils milled from the school’s own olives. Try pairing it with the university’s wine vinegar. (530) 752-6846,
  • University of Idaho, Moscow Offering a full range of beef, lamb, and pork cuts, Vandal Brand Meats earns raves for its cured and smoked products. Whole dry-aged, hickory-smoked hams are made from hogs reared locally in cooperation with nearby Washington State University. (208) 885-6727.
  • University of Nevada, Reno A huge selection of beef and lamb raised on the school farm includes short ribs, rack of lamb, filet mignon, beef patties, and even a whole, grass-finished beef trimmed into retail cuts and wrapped for the freezer. (775) 857-3663,
  • Utah State University, Logan Try Aggie Bull Tracks ice cream (chocolate ice cream with caramel swirls and pieces of peanut butter cup) or one of 26 other flavors. If you’re not into sweets, the cheese, smoked salmon, or smoked sausage should fill the bill. (435) 797-2109,
  • Washington State University, Pullman Cheese in a can? Since the 1940s, WSU fans and friends have relished Cougar Gold, a nutty, sharp white cheddar aged at least a year. Bring a can opener and be prepared for a rich surprise. (800) 457-5442,

Photography by Adam Finkle

This article was first published in November 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.