Every fall, a new batch of students descends on Bloomington, Indiana, and every fall Indiana University's Office of Sustainability throws a big party to introduce new folks to all the food options unique to the community.
This year, Big Red Eats Green (BREG) featured 15 restaurants that use local products in their food andÂ 3 local growers, some of whom provide food to the restaurants. For a small price, students walking to and from classes could try a burrito from Laughing Planet or a hunk of cheese from an Amish cheese maker.
Eat, Buy, Chat
Lyndsey Taylor ofÂ SOMAÂ is mixing up two different smoothies -- perfect for a blisteringly hot September afternoon. Both the Berry Berry Good and Farmboy Tim contain only real fruit, which Taylor says surprises some customers. The Farmboy Tim contains a little bit of everything: blueberries, peaches, rhubarb, honeydew and cantaloupe.
Further down the sidewalk, Dorothy Granger sells handmade pasts byÂ Bloomington Flour Power. The ingredients don't get more local than this -- she uses basil and tomatoes from her garden.
There's nothing for sale at the Bread & Roses Gardens table but there's plenty of conversation to be had. "Talk to a real live farmers right here folks," bellows nurseryman Jonas Carpenter. He and Salem Willard brought along a couple plants for decoration and are offering information about growing good. "We don't exactly have the sexiest booth here, although sorrel and chives, how can you resist," says Willard.
If we support these local businesses, then the money stays here in the community.
How Sweet It Is
The sweet booths are getting the most foot traffic today. Customers are stopping by BLU Boy Chocolate Cafe & CakeryÂ to grab an ice cream sandwich -- local honey ice cream between twoÂ chocolate chip cookies rolled in cinnamon sugar and sprinkled with sea salt. Dominique Webberhunt, the pastry chef and COO of BLU Boy,Â says sourcing the honey and eggs from local farms makes the ice cream sandwiches that much better.Â "If we made say the honey ice cream with conventional eggs, it wouldn't be as bright," she says. "Our honey ice cream is like a golden yellow and it's really pretty."
Lisa Dorazewski is smiling over several trays of vegan baked goods at the Rainbow Bakery booth. She recommends the salted caramel cupcake to any unsure customers.
As a new business, DorazewskiÂ says it was important to get their name out on campus. "We wanted to get out and let the students know that we're here and be involved with all these people that are like-minded."
"For this community to thrive, we need entrepreneurs, people coming in with ideas for new businesses," adds Granger, also a member of the Bloomington City Council. "If we support these local businesses, then the money stays here in the community."