Harvest Food Week promotes ‘locavore’ movement
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 00:09
Tufts Dining Services will this week celebrate the university’s annual Harvest Food Week, serving locally grown dishes and holding interactive events to educate students about the value of buying local.
The event, which runs from today through Friday in Carmichael and Dewick-MacPhie Dining Halls, will feature seasonal dishes such as butternut squash bisque, apple cider and pumpkin pie.
“The ‘locavore’ movement [from proponents of buying locally grown produce] has gained a lot of momentum, so we just want to celebrate the local harvest and educate students regarding locally grown food,” Julie Lampie, Tufts’ nutrition and marketing specialist, said.
The majority of Dining Services’ produce this week comes from Carlson Orchards in Harvard, Mass., according to Lampie. Peaches and nectarines are imported from Lookout Farm in Natick, Mass., while Wards Berry Farm from Sharon, Mass. and Verrill Farm in Concord, Mass. contributed other crops.
Much of this week’s food also comes from the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, a Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy initiative that aims to improve local food systems by training the next generation of famers. Lampie cited heirloom tomatoes, eggplant and swiss chard among the foods from New Entry.
“It is a program here for new farmers, and we support that by buying their produce, which is organically grown,” she said.
Patti Klos, director of dining and business services, explained that this type of relationship between Dining Services and another university group is in line with Tufts’ emphasis on sustainability.
“It promotes that closed-loop concept where food that we compost sometimes ends up as fertilizer at the very farms we buy from,” Klos said. “It’s ideal and what we strive for.”
Lampie also views Harvest Food Week as an opportunity to educate students about what foods they can expect to see at this time of year. She warned that not all produce is always available at local farms.
“In New England, the growing period is very short during the summer months,” she said. “As soon as the first frost appears, basically most of the growing season ends except for hardy vegetables like kale.”
Foods like strawberries and blueberries are not available in the fall, Lampie said, but the dining halls will offer local produce such as squash, chard, tomatoes and apples at dinner this week.
Although the concept for Harvest Food Week remains the same from year to year, Lampie explained that each harvest season is unique in terms of the local vendor products Dining Services brings to campus.
Yesterday in Carmichael, she said, students had the opportunity to sample a quinoa burger from a Rhode Island company called Jens & Marie. Students on Wednesday will be able to try Middle Eastern cuisine, including hummus, from Cedars Restaurant in Dewick, while Thursday meals will feature a line of local salad dressings. Students are invited to vote for their favorite hummus and salad dressing to help Dining Services select products for next year, Lampie said.
Klos also encourages students to help shuck fresh corn around lunchtime in Dewick.
“We’ll have a table in the lobby, and there’ll be barrels of corn that need to be shucked,” she said. “If you’ve never done it, it’s not hard, but you might be interested in seeing it. And then we will serve it for dinner that evening.”
Since the dining hall’s regular pre-shucked corn is more expensive than husked corn, Klos said, staff members plan to donate the extra money to support Tom Thumb’s Student Garden.
Sophomore Molly Greer, who attended Carmichael for lunch yesterday, said she enjoyed the fall festivities.
“I thought the quinoa burger was very delicious, and it was nice to have something new in the dining hall,” Greer said.
Greer also appreciated the event’s message of creating a more sustainable food system.
“I appreciate Tufts’ attempt at trying to buy local because it’s beneficial to the global community,” she said.
Klos encourages students to reach out with comments and suggestions for how to make the experience more informative.
“Certainly, we hope that when students come to dine with us that they might notice the new and different things,” she said. “We would love feedback on the items that we’re serving.”