During the summer recess, amateur gardeners Sierra Bintliff ’12 and Nat Lichten ’09 seeded rows, weeded, irrigated, and tended fruits, vegetables and livestock at a small organic farm near St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine.
A bulk of the bounty was harvested for St. Joseph’s dining services, managed by Bon Appétit Management Company, the same business that oversees Wesleyan dining.
“I was thrilled at the opportunity to work for a company whose mission statement embodies the ideal combination of my two passions: sustainability and food,” says Bintliff, who works as a Bon Appétit catering employee at Wesleyan. “While working on the farm, I experienced the genuine enthusiasm of the Bon Appétit community for providing quality food from sustainable sources.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 29, Bon Appétit will raise awareness about its commitment to supporting local agriculture by participating in the Eat Local Challenge.
Wesleyan and all other Bon Appétit-managed eateries across the country will feature a special lunch prepared completely from local ingredients from within a 150 mile radius of the café, the only exception being salt.
“The meal will take ‘farm to fork’ to the next level,” explains Michael Strumpf, Bon Appétit Resident District Manager of Wesleyan Dining. “Our chefs will create a delicious, seasonal dish that highlights Connecticut’s local bounty. Everything, every single ingredient, must be bought locally. To give you an idea of what this means, if the bread is served during this meal, the flour and yeast must have come from within 150 miles of Wesleyan.”
The Eat Local Challenge aims to raise awareness about the issues that surround local food supply and provides action steps to preserve local agricultural heritage. Since its beginnings, the Eat Local Challenge has demonstrated how food choices affect their environment, communities and well being, while being an exciting opportunity to discover fresh and flavorful varieties.
Bon Appétit is working with the Wesleyan’s Farmers Market to help spread the word about the importance of eating locally. Several local producers, including Wesleyan’s campus farm, Long Lane Farm Club, will be present at this event, as well as informational tables, stocked with educational materials and displays of available local food.
On a recent survey, 80 percent of students were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with campus dining and the quality of food on campus, says Rick Culliton, assistant vice president for student affairs, dean of students.
Bon Appétit credits these results, in part, to the fresh produce culled from farmers around the state.
“In addition to Bon Appétit’s commitment to sustainability, students have rated the quality of campus dining higher during the past two years with Bon Appétit than at any other time in the past,” Culliton says.
To learn more about Bon Appétit’s Eat Local Challenge, visit www.eatlocalchallenge.org