On Tuesday, Sept. 30, Saint Joseph's College opens its dining hall to the public for a homegrown, homecooked lunch featuring ingredients grown within a 150-mile radius (olive oil being a principal exception!). On that day, campus food vendor Bon Appétit sponsors its popular "Eat Local" lunch for the fourth year as it offers a menu of Maine-grown menu - right down to the salt in the shaker - featuring grass-fed roasted rib eyes, tenderloin and New York sirloin, roasted vegetable casserole, steamed corn, garlic mashed potatoes, oven-roasted potatoes, grilled free-range chicken with fresh herbs, kielbasa with peppers and onions in a tomato sauce, vegetarian chili, lobster stew, a full-spread salad bar, local cheeses, soups and dessert. Oh, and then there's the fresh-baked bread with Maine-grown wheat.
"Not only do we emphasize the fresh flavor, we support local growers, which ultimately helps the environment, and preserve local farms and traditions," says Stuart Leckie of Naples, general manager of dining operations at Saint Joseph's.
Nationwide, Bon Appétit is committed to working with suppliers of local food toward a sustainable future, says Leckie. Even when it's not Eat Local day, Leckie regularly uses suppliers of Maine products and was instrumental in getting the college to donate land for a garden - a garden that will supply tomatoes and garlic for the sauces.
"Obviously, there's a huge difference in taste. But we're also doing the right thing because we want to make everyone aware of the 2,000-mile journey that food sometimes makes," says Leckie.
Local food picked at the height of freshness often makes it to market within 24 hours, while non-local food may be in transit for 7 days and warehoused for many months before that. Food now travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to table in the United States, damaging the environment through pollution and using non-renewable resources in the process.
Educational material from Bon Appétit and other groups trying to protect the local food supply will be available at the Saint Joseph's dining hall, along with displays from several Maine suppliers.
The all-you-can-eat meal is $7 and runs from 11 to 1:30 p.m. The dining hall is on the lower floor of Mercy Hall at the Standish campus. The food stations are outside under the tent, while seating is inside. Call 893-7723 for more information. No reservations are necessary.
September 22, 2008 Contact: Charmaine Daniels at (207) 893-7723 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org