Local Routes Program
10 Reasons to Buy Local Food
- Locally Grown or Produced Food Tastes Better
In a week long (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink and produce loses its vitality.
- Local Produce is Better For You
A recent study showed that fresh produce loses nutrients quickly.
- Local Food Preserves Genetic Diversity
Local farms grow a huge number of varieties to provide a long season of harvest, an array of eye-catching colors and the best flavors.
- Local Food is GMO Free
Small and local farms are less likely to use genetically engineered seeds.
- Local Food Supports Local Farm Families
Local farmers who sell direct to customers get full price for their food.
- Local Food Builds Community
When you buy direct from the farmer, you are re-establishing a time-honored connection between the eater and the grower.
- Local Food Preserves Open Space
When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive about preserving the agricultural landscape.
- Local Food Keeps Your Taxes in Check
Farms contribute more in taxes than they require is services.
- Local Food Supports a Clean Environment and Benefits Wildlife
A well-managed family farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued and the perfect environment for many species of wildlife.
- Local Food is About the Future
By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow.
Facts About the Local Routes Program
- Many of the foods we use in large quantities in the dining units are grown or processed in Connecticut or the surrounding New England region including: fruits and vegetables (when in season), Omar coffee, Bigelow tea, Garelick Farms milk.
- Through our Local Routes program, the Department of Dining Services is increasing awareness of the importance of purchasing locally produced foods throughout the community.
- We have increased our merchandising efforts in the dining units so that the student body is aware of the locally grown foods we use. Whitney Sustainable, the only dining facility dedicated to serving locally grown foods.
- We are working with others in the UConn community to support sustainability on campus and to increase the likelihood that more of the products we purchase will be locally or organically grown. Whitney Dining facility will become the place to eat organic and sustainable foods on campus.
About Local Routes
SustainableÖIt isnít just a buzzword at the Department of Dining Services.
We are committed to providing our customers with sustainable dining options and to supporting a local food system. Dining Servicesí Local Routes program works to help educate the UConn community about the importance of choosing foods that will benefit the local economy, the environment, and New England farmers.
Local Routes: Whitney, based in historic Whitney Hall, serves a menu built around the seasons. Our recipes feature the bounty of our state and region. Join us seven days a week for meals created with ingredients from local farmers and sustainable food producers.
Highlights from 2008
Where Weíve Been: A Glance Back at Local Routesí Activities, Events & Accomplishments in 2008
- The UConn Department of Dining Servicesí Apiary came to life in June! Ten beehives, painted brilliantly by local school children and organizations, were placed on UConn property just south of campus. Honeybees now inhabit the structures and have already produced UConn Gold Honey to supply some on-campus dining operations. The bees will eventually provide all of the honey used by Dining Services while pollinating local flora.
- Local Routes: Whitney started its third year of sourcing and serving locally produced sustainable foods as UConnís premier sustainable dining facility. Additions to the sustainable food options at Whitney in 2008 included Domestically Raised Organic White and Brown Rice and Organic Cane Sugar and were added to the list of sustainable food options offered at Whitney last year.
- Local Lenten Seafood Specials were featured at Whitney Dining. On Fridays during Lent, Whitney served delicious seafood specials featuring fish from local waters. Items included: Thai Fish Cakes, White Seafood Lasagna, Cioppino, and Moroccan Seafood Tagine with Tomatoes, Capers and Cinnamon.
- We honored local farmers at our Farmer Appreciation Dinner in February. Whitney invited our local farm suppliers to a special dinner featuring their farm-raised products. The menu included: Beef Short Ribs with Black Currants, Lamb Meatballs with Sesame Seeds and Honey, Apple Currant Grunt and Strawberry Pie with Maple Whipped Cream. The following local farms provided food for our dinner: Four Mile River Farm in Old Lyme, Maple Lane Farm in Preston, Beaver Brook Farm in Lyme, Riverís Edge Sugar House in Ashford, UConn Egg Farm, Blue Hills Orchard in Wallingford, Pumpkin Paulís in Tolland and Mountain Dairy in Storrs.
- Local Routes collaborated with the Office of Environmental Policy and EcoHusky to produce the first ever Earth Day Spring Fling on Earth Day in April. This all-campus Earth Day celebration featured a Connecticut and New England grown cook out, live music, entertainment, and over 30 environmentally centered exhibits and vendors from across New England. To see photos from 2008ís Earth Day Spring Fling click here.
- Whitney Dining wins award! The Local Routes: Whitney program was honored with a Loyal E. Horton Residence Hall Dining Ė Single Stand-Alone Concept Gold Award at the 2008 National Association of College and University Food Service (NACUFS) National Conference in Washington, DC in July.
- In July, the Museum of Natural Historyís Kids are Scientists Too! Camp hosted a biodiversity day featuring a Local Routes presentation, lunch and food talk at Union Street Market.
- The Celebration of Connecticut Farms, a benefit for Connecticut Farmland Trust, was held in September. Rebecca Canfield and Robert Landolphi from the Department of Dining Services at UConn participated in the event, creating Local Routes Milkshakes using UConn Dairy Bar Ice Cream, Maple Lane Farm Black Currant Juice, and Farmerís Cow Milk. For more information about Connecticut Farmland Trust, visit their website.
- The Local Routes Celebrate Connecticut Festival and Chowder Cook-Off was held in October. Chefs from the Department of Dining Services cooked up a variety of chowders from local ingredients, including Connecticut clams, local produce and Mountain Dairy cream. An accompanying Farmerís Market and Information Fair helped attract attendees and educate about the importance of supporting our local food system.
- The annual Working Lands Alliance Legislative Luncheon was held in November. The Dining Services participated again this year providing Maple Baked Root Vegetables from our Local Routes menu. The root vegetables were all donated from Connecticut Farms. The UConn Bakeshop also provided Baklava made with UConn Gold Honey from our own on-campus apiary. The luncheon was held at the State Capitol and attended by State Legislators, Farmers, Farmland Advocates and Chefs. More info about Working Lands Alliance can be found at: www.workinglandsalliance.org
- 2008 finished on a high note for the Local Routes Program at Whitney. We hosted our third annual New England Winterís Feast in December. Over 600 people lined up to enjoy the best our region has to offer at this classic holiday dinner. This yearís menu featured wonderful artisanal cheeses from Beltane Farm in Lebanon and Cato Corner Farm in Colchester. Soups included Roasted Winter Squash Soup and a Rich Seafood Bisque which included locally harvested lobster and scallops. We served Roasted Plainville Farm Turkey Breast with Maple Lane Farm Black Currant Gravy. Four Mile River Farm in Old Lyme provided London Broil served with Mushroom Gravy. Local Apple Pie, Warm Gingerbread, and Pumpkin Pie sweetened the palate for dessert. Click here to see photos from past Winterís Feasts.
Highlights from 2007
- Spring Fling 2007 The 2007 Spring Fling was a rousing success with great food, live music by Peter Tork, formerly of the Monkees, and his band, Shoe Suede Blues, and local vendors rounding out the event. A great time was had by all.
- Celebrate Connecticut Week & Chili Cook-Off took place in September 2007. Special local food dinners were held in all eight dining units on campus throughout the week. Members of UConn's own culinary staff competed for honors in our first ever Local Routes Chili Cook Off on a beautiful fall day. Over 200 people sampled and voted for their favorite chili made from locally grown ingredients.
Highlights from Celebrate Connecticut Week & Chili Cook-Off»
- Outreach will play an increasingly important role in the Local Routes Program. Sharing what we have learned over the past year, contributing to local food projects in the State of Connecticut and helping other institutions develop their own local food programs will benefit Connecticut farmers, and the economy.
- Sourcing Connecticut-Grown Products through purchasing for Whitney Dining Unit will be made a priority in 2007. While using and promoting regional New England agriculture is important, it is vital that we do our part at UConn to support the development of a successful Connecticut food system. In doing so, we will help sustain Connecticut's family farmers, preserve Connecticut's dwindling farmland, reduce greenhouse gases produced in transit by foods transported to UConn, and become a force for positive change in the State of Connecticut.
Highlights From 2006
- Whitney Dining Unit went through a transformation in the fall of 2006. New recipes were developed, menus were rewritten, chefs were hired and trained and UConn's first sustainable, local food dining hall was born. Menus were built around the seasons, vegetables were fresh and locally grown, natural meats were sourced from the New England region (including Connecticut), and processed foods were all but eliminated from the daily offerings at Whitney. Positive comments from our student diners and staff, as well as increased customer counts have shown that there is a definite interest in local and sustainable food on campus.
- The UConn EcoGarden Club was one of the most important organizations to partner with the Local Routes Program in 2006. This impressive group of University students started a garden on a patch of land not far from campus, with the hope of selling their produce to Dining Services. When harvest ended, Whitney Dining Hall had spent over $900 on produce raised by UConn students, on UConn land, in a sustainable garden, using organic growing practices. It doesn't get closer to home than that!
- UConn Cage-Free Eggs are now served at Whitney Dining Hall. This allows us to incorporate good animal care practices into the Local Routes Program, as well as support the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
- UConn Eggs from caged chickens are available to all dining units on campus and are currently purchased by McMahon, Buckley, Putnam and Northwest.
- The Second Annual Local Routes Spring Fling took place in April. We welcomed spring in 2006 with this outdoor festival where over 500 people were fed. Connecticut-raised beef burgers and hot dogs from Four Mile River Farm in Old Lyme anchored a menu of local foods. We opened farmer's market season with a market and craft fair featuring local vendors. Local entertainment, including the Stiltaristas, a Willimantic based stilt walking group, along with music from the Can Kickers, a New London based band, added to a festive atmosphere.
Highlights from Spring Fling 2006 »
- Celebrate Connecticut Week took place in October 2006. Special local food dinners were held in all eight dining units on campus throughout the week. Members of UConn's own culinary staff competed for honors in our first ever Local Routes Chili Cook Off on a blustery, rainy fall day. Over 200 people sampled and voted for their favorite chili made from locally grown ingredients.
Highlights from Celebrate Connecticut Week »
- A New England Winter's Feast was held at Whitney Dining Hall in December 2006. Tiny Whitney Hall, that feeds 300 people on a normally busy night, fed 500 diners a meal featuring foods from Connecticut's fields, pastures and seas. The atmosphere was festive, the food was delicious and we all felt especially satisfied to have supported local farmers, fishermen and food producers.
The Local Routes Mission Statement
The goal of the Department of Dining Services' Local Routes program is to develop interest in locally produced foods among the university community. By holding Local Routes Fairs and encouraging the use of local foods through on-campus food service operations, the Department of Dining Services will focus on supporting and promoting the use of local and sustainable foods. Through education and interaction, the Local Routes Program will encourage the support of local food producers and businesses that sell locally grown foods.
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Organic and Sustainable Foods Links
Local Routes News publicizes local food events, highlights people & groups making a difference in the local food community, and informs readers about local, sustainable and organic foods.