On a typical day, Bowdoin Dining Services aims to make sure that at least 35 percent of everything on offer comes from local suppliers. But on the evening of April 20, that number was closer to 100 percent. The occasion was the Spring Locavore Dinner, held as part of Earth Day Week celebrations. Students lined up for their evening dinners at Thorne Dining Hall and Moulton Union, faced as usual with an abundance of choice, from hot dishes like pizza, mac and cheese and beef chilli, to a variety of cold dishes, salads, and desserts. Almost all of the bounty was provided by nearly 30 Maine-based suppliers: from farms, to beaneries, to seafood growers, to cheese-makers, and more, the length and breadth of the state.
“With the exception of things like olive oil and one or two other small ingredients, the menu is purely local,” said Bowdoin’s Director of Dining Services Mary Kennedy. “One of the suppliers is our own organic garden here on campus. The maple syrup for example was tapped from our own trees, while the chocolate zucchini cakes also used Bowdoin-grown vegetables.” Kennedy said the menu depends entirely on what’s available and what vendors can offer.
Anita York works on the salad bar: “Everything you see here has been prepared today,” she said. “We had no idea in advance what would be available for salads, it depends on the conditions and what the farmers are able to grow. Most of the stuff has either come from indoor farms like Springworks in Lisbon, or it has been wintered over, which is why we have a lot of root vegetables.” York says her favorite is either the roasted potato salad, or the root slaw with apples and a honey vinaigrette.
Sitting down to dinner, Sam Sloate ’18 says her biggest challenge is trying not to overload the plate. “All the salads look really good so I’m having a little of every one,” she said. “I love a locavore dinner, it’s one of my favorite nights that Bowdoin has.”
Brian Nguyen ’16 has already tried the baked macaroni with Maine cheeses, courtesy of Pineland Farms in New Gloucester. Now he’s sampling the Maine beef chilli with a green salad on the side. “It’s good,” he said, “and it’s less wasteful right? Because it comes from somewhere so close.”