Greenfire’s annual Harvest Dinner moves to Downer

Mary Born

For students who eat at Downer regularly, Wednesday night was a welcome change in the normal routine. Greenfire, the student environmentalist group responsible for on-campus Earth Day celebrations and the Clean Plate Club, had their annual Harvest Dinner in the “A” line to rave reviews. The Harvest Dinner is not a new phenomenon at Lawrence, however this is one of the first times it has been served in the “A” where it was most accessible to students. The Harvest Dinner is a meal that is prepared entirely from organic and locally grown ingredients. Items on the menu included Tuscan navy beans from the LU sustainable garden and locally grown mashed potatoes. The main part of the meal was a chuck roast produced locally without hormones or steroids and certified as “natural” by the state of Wisconsin.
Greenfire puts on the Harvest Dinner to make students more aware of what they are eating and where their food comes from. Jenny Murphy, one of the Greenfire co-presidents, says, “It will hopefully get people excited about organic food, and maybe inspire students to request it on comment cards in Downer.” For many people, organic food is not something they see every day. Many people don’t have the time or the money to go to organic supermarkets or farmers markets where they can be sure the food they are getting is locally produced and grown without pesticides or hormones.
“I remember when I was a freshman I had never had organic food before, says Murphy. “The Harvest Dinner was my first time eating it and I realized it wasn’t weird or different.” A lot of the produce for the dinner came directly from the LU garden, which has been supplying Downer with fresh vegetables since the beginning of the term.
Chef Bob Wall at Downer was very excited about the Harvest Dinner. “I’ve always been interested in local, fresh, sustainable produce,” he says. “Philosophies in the sustainable food culture are consistent with my personal philosophy and the LU dining service’s mission to nurture the health and well-being of students.”
Organic food tends to be expensive, and Chef Wall saw it as a good sign that organic food was even available for such a large crowd. Hopefully, the dinner made students aware of the benefits of organic foods. “Projects like [Wendesday]’s dinner will hopefully propel our mission further towards the students … hopefully they will take it with them.” Chef Wall said of Wednesday’s meal. “We want to get the word out about the healthful qualities of food.