Last year when we took our first year students on an all-day retreat, we spent part of the day discussing Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a book in which a family tries to live for a whole year eating only food raised within 100 miles of their home. This year’s summer reading, the book Eaarth by Bill McKibben, included a section about eating local foods.
The owner of the retreat center listened carefully to our discussions about eating locally. Then last March, he bought two piglets. All spring and summer, the pigs ate the scraps of food leftover from the groups that come to do a ropes course at the retreat place. The staff posted photos of the pigs on facebook. Then just before our scheduled retreat, the pigs were slaughtered, smoked, and turned into pulled pork.
The dinner included salad made with homegrown tomatoes and local lettuce as well as apples and cider from a local farm. We ate salt potatoes, which is a local delicacy. The potatoes were local, but the salt probably wasn’t. At one time, our area was famous for producing salt, but I think now we would need a time machine to get some.
The retreat place fed about 300 students, faculty, and staff, and they did it mostly from local foods. “That was impressive,” said a student in class today. “Now we have to figure out how to live like that all the time.”