Buying local

Denny Lawrence, general manager for Bon Appetit on campusBon Appetit, the food service company at George Fox, places a large emphasis on sustainability, which in many ways boils down to a simple philosophy: buy local. Food in the United States typically travels 1,500 miles before reaching the dinner table. The amount of fossil fuels burned to transport food can be astronomical.

Last year alone, of the $1.1 million Bon Appetit spent on food and beverages to feed George Fox students, about $300,000 went to farmers and ranchers within 100 miles of Newberg.

“We look at who we buy from, how it is grown and how far does it travel,” said Denny Lawrence, general manager of Bon Appetit. “Are we buying mangos that come from South America, or can we get fruit that’s grown 50 miles away? Sometimes it does cost a little more, but it’s good for the local economy. And it’s the right thing to do.”

Denny LawrenceFarmers and ranchers have noticed that the university looks to buy local.

“They are now calling us and asking what we’d like them to grow,” Lawrence said. “We write our menus on a weekly basis all year round so we can tailor our menus to growing seasons. We struck a deal the other day with a honey producer. It’s a local party.”

Is buying local common for most universities? “Heavens, no,” Lawrence said. “It’s much easier to get on the computer and place one order and have someone ship you everything. We’ve made a philosophical decision that’s unique. We’re willing to take a lesser profit in order to buy more sustainably.”