Case study by: Crista Martin, Director for Strategic Initiatives and Communications for Harvard University Dining Services Lyza Bayard, Marketing Communications for Dining & Business Services at Tufts University
You’ve swapped your traditionally sourced apples for a variety from a local orchard, and your students even accept the slightly bruised product because they went on an orientation field trip to the orchard and now know the apples come to your docks in bushel baskets, not cardboard boxes. Or you’ve found a nearby dairy that can meet your volume needs for milk, at only a modest cost increase, and also does home delivery in the neighboring towns; a pasta-maker who makes great tortellini in the next town over, and can also share her story of being an immigrant starting her own business; or even a farmer who is willing to dedicate a small acreage to growing squash just for your campus, which students are encouraged to pick on harvest day. For many of us, the locavore movement has been a steady and fulfilling process of shifting from one supplier to another. You are perhaps working closely with new partners to explain the nuances of meeting institutional packaging, labeling, volume, and delivery needs. Once we’ve clipped the low- or even mid-hanging fruit, what’s next? Often, expanding our sustainable purchasing requires us to shift the traditional purchasing paradigm. It’s comfortable to develop a recipe, identify ingredient needs, source products through existing vendors, compare prices, add to our order, and then move on to the next task. What if we don’t start with the recipe or ingredients, and instead we start with the relationship? Several Boston-area schools recently found a new way to expand local purchasing, bucking the traditional supply chain approach and partnering with two unique programs to procure local fish and local pasta sauce.
Local Fish New England fishing and fishermen are hallmarks of the rugged coastal vision. In reality, the fishing industry is under great pressure from regulations and a narrow consumer view of (or familiarity with) what is edible or easy to cook, not unlike farmers or any other range of food-based businesses. Both Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) and Tufts University Dining Services sought to expand local seafood purchasing to further support the local economy. While more traditional vendors were responsive partners in advancing sustainable choices, being able to tell the full story of a fish and the fisherman who caught it was not probable. Harvard and Tufts began talking to upstart seafood vendor Red’s Best, founded in 2008 by Jared Auerbach, a young Boston fisherman who had worked on commercial vessels in Alaska and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Based on his fishing industry experience, Jared established Red’s Best to support New England day boat fishermen by finding markets for their catch—their whole catch, not just the most popular species. Red’s Best works with approximately 1,000 fishermen unloading their daily catch, preparing the fish for sale (including cleaning, filleting, and packaging) and finding buyers. By eliminating the traditional wholesale fish auction and multiple middle-men, Red’s Best ensures that the fishermen receive more of the profit for the fish they catch. The fish are uniquely tracked as they are offloaded, so even a diner can learn about who caught what they are eating and where.
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47 C A M P U S D I N I N G TO DAY
Local Sourcing , So What’s Next?
Spring/Summer issue of Campus Dining Today