Gotta Love LocalGAMBIER, Ohio (April 30, 2007) The tomatoes and cukes come from a family-farm greenhouse operation. The barbecued beef, from cows raised down the road. And for dessert-well, there's a talented lady named Myrtle who works wonders with pie.
When Kenyon throws an all-campus picnic to celebrate the end of the semester this week, the menu will reflect the College's leadership in the local-food movement. The picnic will be a showcase for Kenyon's Food for Thought program, which not only brings local fare into the campus dining halls but also immerses students in the surrounding community, where they study food issues first-hand, forge rewarding relationships with farmers, and create museum-quality exhibits to share their findings.
This year's picnic takes place on Sunday, May 6, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Ransom Green. While enjoying local dishes ranging from tempeh, to ribs, to grilled vegetables in pita, the campus community will be treated to the debut of an exhibit called "What's for Dinner?" Created by the students in the year-long "Fieldwork: Rural Life" seminar, the exhibit grew out of interviews with farmers, agriculture officials, restaurant owners, and others. The goal: to examine why food choices matter-how "what's for dinner" affects the environment, the economy, health, and the character of communities.
"In every food choice we make, we're engaging in a civic act," says Professor of Sociology Howard Sacks, who teaches the course. "We're affecting our own personal health and nutrition but also profoundly influencing our local community, and beyond."
Sacks leads the Rural Life Center, through which Kenyon is partnering with others to build a sustainable local food network uniting farmers and consumers for the sake of preserving the area's rural way of life.
Also on the picnic menu: local music, with performances by the regionally prominent bluegrass band "Northwest Territory," as well as a student group with the evocative (and quasi-culinary) name "Fruity and the Handsomes."