Eat Local: Dining Services Offers More Locally-Produced Food

Photo of Clifford the cow, courtesy of Maple Valley Creamery, Hadley, Mass.

Local food—which is already a significant part of the dining experience at Smith—has an even bigger place at the table this semester.

Dining Services has added a number of locally-grown food products to house dining menus, including antibiotic-free meats and local, pasteurized ice cream from Maple Valley Farm in Hadley, Mass.

Over the past year, Smith has increased the percentage of “real food”—items purchased from local and sustainable sources—to 10 percent of the total, says Andrew Cox, director of Dining Services.

Cox says a primary goal of Smith’s food services operation is to “make local foods the default” for menu planning.

Local food, he notes, supports the economy, develops community among producers, chefs and diners, and reduces the carbon footprint involved in delivery.

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“Local food instills resiliency and food security in a global food market,” he adds. “And it often tastes better!”

Many special events on campus last semester—including those inspired by International Students Day—featured the use of local food.

Cox says staff members in Dining Services are being trained in the latest sustainable food practices and will participate this spring in the annual Chefs Collaborative conference in New York City on sustainable food. Cox is a local leader for the western Massachusetts chapter and also serves on the Farm and Sea to Campus Network organized by Farm to Institution New England.

What can locavores look forward to on the menu at Smith this semester?

Here are five new reasons to enjoy campus dining:

1. Antibiotic- and hormone-free meats: Dining Services is now purchasing Vermont-grown ground beef, brisket, top round and pork from Black River Produce in North Springfield, Vt. Black River produces meats from pasture-fed animals.

2. Local dairy: Smith is now buying bulk ice cream from Maple Valley Creamery in Hadley and all milk from High Lawn Farm in Lee, Mass.

3. Pizza that keeps it “real”: Berkshire Mountain Bakery in Housatonic, Mass., is providing pizza dough for campus dining.

4Sustainable seafood: Seafood items are now being purchased from Sea to Table, a distributor that partners with fishing communities to support small-scale, wild fisheries. Cox notes that Sea to Table lists the names of fishing vessels and their captains on its product delivery sheets.

5. Greens, beans and more: New this semester are grains and beans from Valley Malt in Hadley and produce from Red Fire Farm in Granby. Dining Services is now buying maple syrup from the North Hadley Sugar Shack. The department is continuing its relationship with local food suppliers Queens Greens in Amherst (greens), Winter Moon Roots in Hadley (root vegetables), Outlook Farm in Westhampton (apples and other produce) and Sidehill Farm in Hawley (yogurt).