Forty-five students and guests enjoyed a heritage & heirloom foods dinner hosted by Wake Forest Dining on October 30 as part of the series of themed Thursday evening dinners in the Magnolia Room. The dinner was the brainchild of the sustainability team at Wake Forest in an effort to expose our campus community to heirloom and heritage foods native to and available in and around the North Carolina region. The evening’s menu featured the following local fare: pawpaws, sweet potatoes, apple butter, Joyce Farms poultry – chicken breasts, chicken sausage and chicken wings, persimmons, butternut squash ravioli, pink eyed peas, figs, and lima beans.
Joyce Farms donated the poultry served as part of an ongoing effort to bring awareness of their farm’s local quality products. The butternut squash ravioli, pink eyed peas, lima beans, sweet potatoes, and apple butter were all procured from farms and vendors from whom Wake Forest University regularly purchases local items. Procurement of both the pawpaws and persimmons was the trickiest task in rounding out the menu as pawpaw season tends to fall in late summer and both fruits are grown locally in limited quantities. Fortunately, several farmers in North Carolina have taken a particular interest in the pawpaw and have begun establishing orchards that grow up to 30 varieties of the fruit, and Wake Forest Dining was able to procure a large enough supply of whole frozen pawpaws, persimmons and figs from one of these farmers (Parker’s Pawpaw Patch) to include in a variety of menu items. Serving a meal such as our Heritage Dinner, which is done on a significantly smaller scale than meals typically served in our dining halls, allows for flexibility and creativity in expanding our menus to incorporate a wider variety of local foods.
Local sourcing is one element of Wake Forest Dining’s responsible purchasing program. It supports local farmers and economies, benefits the environment by reducing the amount of transportation fuel and emissions required to deliver foods, and in the case of seafood, supports the health of local fisheries.
Every day, we look for ways to incorporate responsibly purchased items into the mix of menu offerings, and by using environmentally friendly items in our operations. We have also established a variety of unique partnerships, so that we can offer clients and customers fresh, safe, whole foods that are raised, grown, harvested, and produced locally and in a sustainable manner whenever possible.
Contributed by Kate Ruley, Nutrition Director at Wake Forest Dining