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Supporting Local Business
Local Purchasing at Amherst College
Amherst College has made a commitment to purchasing food produced by local farmers. In the 2007/2008 fiscal year, we spent an estimated $125,000 of our budget on locally-grown food. We buy honey from Warm Colors Apiary in South Deerfield, maple syrup from Ripley Farm in Montague, vegetables from Czajkowski Farm in Hadley and purchase from many other local vendors, some of which are listed below. We joined CISA’s (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) Local Hero Campaign in 2006.
Amherst College Dining Services, in the spirit of continued support of our local community, has worked cooperatively with shelters, charities and survival centers, to provide donated food throughout the year. We have had an excellent working relationship for many years with these different organizations and look forward to these partnerships for many years to come.
We donate extra food items from the student dining program as well as organizing a clothing, toy, and canned food drive during the holidays in support of local charities. One of the ways this is accomplished is with a "Giving Tree", which is contributed to by many employees and Amherst students.
Local Food Special in Valentine Hall featuring Hadley Sugar Shack
Some of the local businesses we support:
Bernardino's Bakery - Chicopee, MA
Amherst College Dining Services has started purchasing some rolls and French sticks from Bernardino's, a local bakery.
For over 20 years Amherst College Dining Services has been purchasing our pasta entrees and pestos from Carla's Pasta. Carla's is a family owned, entrepreneurially driven, single focus, twenty seven year old nationally distributed company. They make are pasta and pestos. They are a USDA, HACCP compliant facility with independent inspection and lab testing by Silliker. Carla's is all about quality, quality, and quality closely followed by customer service and quality.
Amherst College Dining Services supports the mission and values of the Fair Trade movement. That is why we serve only Fair Trade coffee in all of our campus operations. We purchase our Fair Trade coffee from Sun Coffee Roasters, a local distributor and roaster of only Fair Trade coffees.
Hall Poultry - Pelham, MA
For over 25 years Amherst College Dining Services has been purchasing eggs from Hall Poultry, a small family-owned business in Pelham. (The eggs are not locally produced.)
Ken’s Salad Dressings - Marlborough, MA
Ken’s Food originated in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1941. Today the company has plant operations in Marlborough, Massachusetts, McDonough, Georgia and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Little Pond Flower Farm - Belchertown, MA
Myron’s Fine Foods - Millers Falls, MA
Myron’s Fine Foods is a local business in Millers Falls. They are an entrepreneurial food products company specializing in the development and marketing of superior quality, authentic Asian style cooking sauces. Myron’s Fine Foods donates a portion of their net profits to efforts to preserve and restore the earth’s natural resources.
Ragged Hill Orchard - West Brookfield, MA
Amherst College Dining Services purchases most of its apples from Ragged Hill Orchard. Ragged Hill is a small, privately owned orchard located in West Brookfield with orchards here in the valley as well.
Amherst College Dining Services purchases maple syrup locally from North Hadley Sugar Shack in Hadley, Massachusetts. The syrup that we purchase is used for most of our baked goods and especially for our vegan desserts. We also feature the Sugar Shack's maple syrup for specials during breakfast.
Squash Inc. - Belchertown, MA
Amherst College Dining Services purchases produce from Squash, a local vendor. “For over 30 years Squash has been committed to preserving the strong agricultural traditions of our valley, providing a link between the farmer and end user.”
Amherst College Dining Services buys honey from Warm Colors Apiary, a Western Massachusetts company that raises honeybees “to produce the finest regional honey from the fields and forests of Western Massachusetts.”
Local Food Special in Valentine Hall featuring Warm Colors Apiary
Why Buy Local Food?
A commitment to buying locally grown foods is a powerful gesture to the larger community, reflects dedication to supporting small and mid-sized farmers in the region, and brings high-quality, fresh produce into the cafeteria.
Purchasing Local Food Supports the Local Community, Economy, and Farmers
- Local food supports local families. When cafeterias buy directly from farmers or local distributors, that money remains in the region and helps farm families continue farming their land.
- Purchasing directly from farmers builds community as connections are fostered between consumers, institutions and local farmers.
- Local food is an investment in our future. Buying local food helps preserve the strength and character of our community and the working landscape for future generations.
Local Food is High-Quality and Healthful
- Locally grown food tastes and looks better. Crops marketed close to home are picked at their peak and usually sold within 24 hours of harvesting.
- Local food is better for you. The shorter the time between the farm and your table, the less likely it is that nutrients will be lost from fresh food. Fresh produce begins to lose nutritional value after harvest.
- Local food is safer. With all the issues related to food safety, there’s an assurance that comes from looking a farmer in the eye, or passing the fields where your food comes from. Small-scale local farmers are not part of the industrial food system that creates and spreads potential contaminants.
Purchasing Locally Grown Food is an Environmentally Sound Choice
- In the present food system, food travels an average of over 1,300 miles from farm to table. Purchasing locally grown food reduces oil use and air pollution.
- Local food growing practices benefit the environment and wildlife because farmers live close to the land. Decisions about farming are made by people who are in tune with the natural world, and who care about the land they work and the food they produce. Massachusetts farms encompass a patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, streams and ponds that provide essential habitat for wildlife.
- Maintaining farm land preserves open space. Just under 10% of Massachusetts’ 564,000 acres of farmland are permanently protected, so by supporting farming we can keep it a viable industry to keep the land in agriculture and prevent non-productive and unattractive developments.
- Local food preserves genetic diversity. In industrial agriculture, plants are bred for the ability to ripen uniformly, withstand harvesting, survive packing and last a long time on the shelf, so there are only a few varieties in large-scale production. This leaves our food supply vulnerable to disease or disaster. Smaller local farms often grow many different varieties to provide a longer season, an array of colors, and superior flavor.