Bon Appétit recently welcomed their newest local vendor to their Farm to Fork initiative: Little Blue’s Farm, raising their total percentage of locally sourced food to 30 percent.
The Farm to Fork initiative, according to the Bon Appétit Management Company Organization Food Safety Guidelines (BAMCO), means that the company must purchase at least 20 percent of their meat and produce from local farms that are ‘National Organic Standard’ certified.
According to the BAMCO safety guidelines, there are a few strict rules for suppliers to follow in order to participate in the Farm to Fork initiative. All crops have to be grown from organic seeds that are free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and meat from animals that were raised must be hormone and antibiotic free.
These rules are what made Little Blue’s Farm the perfect fit for Knox College.
Adam Rupp, co-owner of Little Blue’s Farm, emphasized the benefits of raising free range turkeys and chickens and hormone/steroid free cattle. Not only are the animals treated more humanely, but they are generally healthier and their meat contains less fat.
“I’m not here to bash any other way of doing things, but obviously a chicken was made to want to walk around and flap its wings and exercise,” Rupp said. “We feel that treating them humanely and raising them healthily so that they can have room to roam is a much better way of doing things.”
Executive Chef Jason Crouch provided a list of some other local farms and suppliers: Hilltop Farms, the main supplier of produce; Innkeeper’s Coffee, Knox’s coffee supplier; TG’s Free Range Poultry and Twin Oak Meats, which are sources of chicken and pork.
These local farms are also in tune with the requirements and philosophies of the BAMCO. Thomas Collopy of Hilltop Farms, for example, only uses heirloom variety transplants in order to produce crops that have richer flavors.
“They’re more like the old time varieties that were more prevalent back in the fifties and sixties,” Collopy said.
In the same sense that Rupp refuses to use hormones and steroids on his cattle, Collopy refuses to use synthetic pesticides — or any pesticides at all, for that matter. If there happens to be a problem with insects or diseases, he said that he will occasionally spray organic pesticides. This year he didn’t use any.
Although not a “local farm,” co-owner of Innkeeper’s Coffee Mike Bond said his coffee shop is considered to fit the guidelines of the BAMCO because the beans are locally roasted. However, one of the special requirements Bon Appétit placed on Innkeeper’s was the emphasis on purchasing fair trade products. Bond said that this would mean the farmers in Colombia, Sumatra and Mexico, where the beans are purchased from, earn a portion of their money back.
Overall, Crouch approximated that Bon Appétit purchases 14,708 pounds of local produce and meat per month.
Breaking that number down, Crouch said anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pounds of produce each month from Hilltop Farms; 208 pounds of coffee from Innkeeper’s; 8,200 pounds of beef, 800 pounds of chicken wings and 600 pounds of turkey from Little Blues Farm; approximately 400 full birds from TG’s Free Range Poultry, which amounts to roughly 1,600 pounds; and 2,300 pounds of pork from Twin Oak Meats.
The Knox Farm also provides some of the produce. Crouch said the farm supplied a large amount of butternut squash, some of which has been frozen in order to use throughout the rest of the year.
As for the other 70 percent food, Crouch said that Bon Appétit purchases from a variety of sources, such as American Halal Meats, which provides 2,400 pounds of halal chicken a month, United Natural Foods and Sysco.
Both Sysco and United Natural Foods are larger companies that provide the rest of Knox’s food. Crouch mentioned that a few unique items, such as gluten free bread, vegan ice cream and seitan are purchased from United Natural Foods.