Thanksgiving meal brings local flavors

Those in search of a festive alternative to the dining hall’s redundant offerings found it one Sunday afternoon two weeks ago. On November 22nd, over 200 Grinnell students, faculty and community members convened in the Main Quad to enjoy an early Thanksgiving meal sponsored by Grinnell Local Foods organization. The meal featured a wide array of traditional Thanksgiving fare, all locally grown, raised and prepared.

“It’s really neat that all of our ingredients were local, except for sugar and oil,” said Hart Ford-Hodges ’10, who helped organize the event. “Over 80 percent of our budget was spent locally, which is quite impressive, especially considering it’s late November.”

Eleven local farms supplied the ingredients for the meal. Dishes were prepared by student organizations using local ingredients. Food house made butternut squash soup, the staff of the Sexual Health Information Center prepared apple crisp, and residents of Gourmet House made the stuffing, and Chalutzim baked challah.

Music professor and farm owner Eric McIntyre provided the turkeys free of charge on the condition that Local Foods members killed, cleaned and prepared them.

Though the idea of personally killing a turkey may be an uncomfortable idea for some, Ford-Hodges found the process more humane than the typical cycle of growing and purchasing a frozen turkey from a supermarket. “It’s neat to see the processing because you know they were raised by good people, had happy lives and were killed humanely,” Ford-Hodges said.

Members of the community also brought food as a possible alternative to paying the $3 admission fee, as the event doubled as a fundraiser for Social Justice Action Group’s weekly community meal.

“SGA actually covered our budget, so all of the profits will go toward buying local ingredients for the community meal,” said Eliza Mutino ’12, Local Foods member and another organizer of the meal.

Both Mutino and Ford-Hodges were pleased with the turnout and consider it an overall success.

“People seemed pretty enthusiastic,” Mutino said. “And we heard a lot of positive feedback.”

This meal was the second annual Local Foods Thanksgiving, and given its positive reception the two plan to continue the tradition.