Local grown Bon Appétit

By Ollin Garcia Pliego

The year 2009 brought significant changes to Lawrence University. First, the Warch Campus Center was inaugurated. Second, Bon Appétit became Lawrence’s dining service provider. Through the implementation of a sustainable program in which Bon Appétit obtains its foods from local farmers, the Lawrence community has the necessary elements to embrace a healthy diet while supporting the local economy.

Bon Appétit provides consumers with the freshest ingredients that are used to cook global recipes directly from scratch. Its sustainable food philosophy is based on the need to provide our community with tasty food that is healthy and affordable for consumers, produced through cooking processes that respect the environment and farmers’ rights. Moreover, Bon Appétit strives to nourish the consumer without affecting the renewal of natural resources for future generations.

However, Bon Appétit’s General Manager Julie Severance confirms that most of their products are not organic since it is a time-consuming and expensive process for farms to become certified organic.

“Although we would love to work with organic farms, we feel that farms which are local and use sustainable farming practices are just as important as farms which are certified organic.”

Bon Appétit does purchase some organic products on a regular basis. “Basmati rice, chia seeds, grits, yellow split peas, tempeh, grape jelly, sugar free jams, [texture vegetable protein], black eyed peas, wheat berries, rice milk, soy yogurt and agave,” Severance said. Although not completely organic, Lawrence’s food service attempts to deliver a good variety of organic products, allowing our campus to have a healthier diet through the consumption of all-natural products.

Severance explains that their products come from many different sources, especially local farms and artisans:

“Ney’s Big Sky Beef, Red Barn Dairy, Riese Purebred Hog Farm, Lamers Dairy, SLUG, Ledgeview Farm, Sonday Produce Free Range Chicken, Stone Creek Coffee, Sugar River Dairy, Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream [and] Malcore Dairy Distributor.” Through Bon Appétit, the Lawrence community helps maintain local farms and industries.

A working relationship between Bon Appétit and Sustainable Lawrence University Garden, or SLUG, has formed in the past years.

“We purchase the seeds for SLUG garden and purchase everything it produces,” Severance said. “SLUG also uses our food waste for composting.” Thus, both parties provide each other with the necessary elements to maintain their sustainable food ethic.

The foods delivered to Bon Appétit go through a specific process, “Our foodstuffs are received on the loading dock and taken to the respective floors on which they are used. The food goes into refrigeration, freezer or dry storage and is processed when it is menued,” Severance said. On the other hand, SLUG goods are brought to the cafeteria by SLUG workers themselves.

SLUG mostly sells tomatoes, herbs, greens and squash to Bon Appétit. However, the percentage of foods that they sell to the school cafeteria depends on the yearly crop yields. In addition, Severance explains that Bon Appétit is a food service company “recognized as a pioneer in environmentally-sound sourcing policies.”

Lastly, Severance stresses that they are the first food service to “directly support small, local farms, strive to serve only sustainable seafood, address antibiotics overuse in our eat supply, switch to cage-free shell eggs, tackle food’s role in climate change, advocate for farmworkers’ rights, commit to pork raised without gestation crates [and] switch to third-party verified raised ground beef.”