Greenfire holds annual Harvest Dinner

April West

Greenfire held its annual Harvest Dinner Nov. 1 in Downer Commons.
Besides serving organic and local food, the event also had three speakers, one of which was our own Chef Bob Wall. John Peck of Family Farm Defenders and geology professor Jeff Clark also spoke.
Professor Clark talked about how students need to continue work in the two-year-old Sustainable Lawrence University Garden to show that students can in fact keep student-run programs going even after those that started the garden graduate.
Maintaining SLUG will make it easier to enable other student-run programs in the future, such as composting, to happen, he added. Composting could certainly be useful at Lawrence, as Downer throws away a lot of vegetables every day.
Peck of Family Farm Defenders, a group dedicated to educating, raising money, and encouraging the use of locally grown foods, discussed the importance of reading labels and knowing where what you are eating came from and what is in it.
First off, notice how it is labeled, he says. Peck showed how one brand of cheese had a label that said it was a “processed cheese product” rather than a “processed cheese food.” This is because the FDA did not grant it food status because it had many of the same constituents as sawdust.
Peck also showed a juice label that contained apples from Idaho, Zimbabwe and Brazil, among other places. This shows that this company only cares about purchasing the cheapest apple they can find, rather than using local produce.
In addition, Peck talked about how the Appleton farm market used to move to a location far away from downtown in the winter, but starting this winter will now be held in the City Center.
The farm market is held every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.
The menu for the Harvest Dinner, prepared by Chef Wall, contained grass-fed chuck roast with gravy, three different types of candied squash from the farm market, local apple and pumpkin pie, organic and local cabbage and apples, yellow carrots from SLUG, local and organic salad, and local potatoes.
The entire menu was available in A line, so even if you did not attend the talk in Downer B, you may have still enjoyed the food.
Aside from preparing the menu, Chef Wall also spoke at the Harvest Dinner. Wall, who used to run the Appleton farm market, said, “Organic food is very important to me personally. I have used organic produce in many of the other restaurants I have worked in.”
Wall continued, “My goal for next year is to start planning much earlier and include more products from the farm market. I am quite aligned with the Harvest Dinner and the Greenfire club in general.”
Wall also discussed how the food industry today is relying on value-added products rather than human labor. When given the cost of transportation and human labor, the benefit of locally grown foods is now greater than what it used to be.
Downer is currently SLUG’s biggest customer and he hopes to strengthen the relationship between the two.
SLUG should look at other models and come up with its own definition of sustainability, Wall added.
Several sustainable farming techniques that the garden currently employs are crop rotation so that the soil doesn’t become exhausted, using few chemicals, and not using cash crops by or using crops that are best suited for the soil but may not necessarily bring in the most money.
Greenfire seems to have achieved its goal with the Harvest Dinner, which was to have an event open to the public displaying only locally grown foods to get people to think about how food doesn’t have to travel hundreds of miles to taste great.
Those interested in working in SLUG can contact Joe Pfender or Professor Clark.