Dining services continues pursuit of organic Maine foods
When you're sitting down to dinner at Thorne, do you ever stop to wonder where the honey lemon chicken sitting in front of you actually came from? Some Bowdoin students might be surprised to know that many organic foods come from local Maine growers.
Thanks to the hard work of students and dining staff employees, Bowdoin's dining service is ranked number one in the country and continues to support the Brunswick community by purchasing much of its food from local sources.
Bowdoin's connection with local farmers began in the classroom through a course on Environmental Sociology taught by Professor Joe Bandy. Students discussed issues such as sustainability and environmental justice, as well as the importance of community food security. Former student Rosalind May became interested in local food during a service learning project in Bandy's class and decided to pursue the topic by becoming involved with the organization Farm Fresh Connection.
To gain support for local food at Bowdoin, May wrote columns for Sustainable Bowdoin, read public service announcements on WBOR, and designed a bulletin board for Thorne dining hall with a diagram showing the different parts of a pizza and where they were purchased.
Slowly, students began to get involved with Bowdoin's local food endeavors, and today Bowdoin works closely with Farm Fresh Connection, even sponsoring several internships there to learn about the social and economic impact of the food purchasing industry.
The FFC connects Bates and Bowdoin College with 50 local Maine farmers. Meat, produce, and dry goods are purchased by the FFC and then transferred directly to Bowdoin's dining service. Even before its affiliation with the FFC, Bowdoin was involved with local apple farmers, lobstermen, and seafood purveyors. However, the FFC saves Bowdoin employees time and energy by allowing them to view an availability list and choose what they wish to purchase without contacting all the local farmers individually.
Support of Brunswick farms also helps Bowdoin's relations with the town of Brunswick. Purchasing Manager Jon Wiley described the many farmers that have visited Bowdoin as "pleased and enthused about the long-term prospects of providing [Bowdoin] with their harvests."
Wiley suggests that helping out the local economy has always been a priority with Bowdoin, and purchasing from local farms helps to better the relationship between the College and local business-people.
Advocates of the program suggest that having local food at Bowdoin improves the environment by decreasing exhaust fumes and pollution emitted by larger transport trucks.
Supporters also suggest that local food is also much fresher and healthier. In an age where organic foods are fashionable, local food is becoming more common, and Bowdoin has increased its local purchasing to include almost all of its seafood and a large majority of its produce.
While becoming affiliated with the FFC has been a big step for Bowdoin, there are many students who believe that this is only the beginning. Students such as Elliott Wright '04 are planning an organic garden that will be the main source of produce at Bowdoin.
Getting involved with the local food movement has proved very exciting for students such as May who, after graduating with the class of 2003, is now working with a non-profit organization in Portland called Cultivating Community, which promotes local food through community food work and youth programs.
To learn more about local food visit http://www.localharvest.org.
A chef prepares chicken at Thorne Hall. Dining Services purchases many organic foods from local suppliers.
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