As winter’s chill settles in, cooks often turn to storage crops, including a vibrant array of hardy winter squash, each with its own special flavor profile and gastronomic potential. From the robust and well-known butternut to the delicately sweet acorn, ornamental turban squash, and velvety texture and nutty flavor of Koginut, these nutrient-rich and flavor-packed vegetables define the essence of the season.
In this follow-up to last week’s post, we share the stories of three food hubs that demonstrate just how critical this model can be for matching supply with demand.
On the rise across the country since the mid-2000’s, food hubs are one solution to common barriers to getting local food into restaurants and difficult-to-access institutional markets. With a keen focus on selling to anchor institutions (long-term fixtures in communities, such as universities, hospitals, and school systems, that play vital roles in the local economy), food hubs coordinate the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of locally and regionally produced foods from a network of responsible producers.
When Bon Appétit Fellow Elise Dudley and over a dozen Vassar College students caravanned out to Amenia, NY earlier this year, they expected to learn firsthand about the dairy industry and meet a storied local Farm to Fork partner. They got even more, including a lesson in emerging cooperative models that protect small dairy farms.
The aroma of pizza crust, orange peels, chicken bones, and half-eaten sandwiches has become an all too familiar scent to Bon Appétit Management Company’s Midwest Fellow Elise Kulers and east coast Fellow Elise Dudley, who have weighed over 1,500 pounds of food waste produced by over 8,500 guests at colleges and universities this year.
In late April, food system professionals gathered virtually and in person for the annual Northeast Farm to Institution Summit, with Bon Appétiters leading multiple events.
Horse Listeners Orchard has been a long-time Farm to Fork partner of Bon Appétit-served colleges and universities in the northeast region from Connecticut to Massachusetts. Beyond cultivating 23 varieties of apples, and vegetables too, they partner with neighboring growers to aggregate produce — enabling them to source a yearlong supply of crushed tomatoes for our chefs — and deliver it all themselves.
On the edge of Roger Williams University’s campus and steps from Rhode Island’s Mt. Hope Bay, faculty, staff, and students are performing cutting-edge research on some truly amazing creatures.
On my table sat a hefty 5-gallon bucket overflowing with green apples. Weighing in at 32 pounds, the fruit represented the average harvest bucket of green tomatoes for which farmworkers in Florida — where most of the tomatoes east of the Mississippi come from in the winter months — are paid a shocking 45 cents per bucket.