Sodexo's Norse Culinary Team hopes to grow its buy-local food purchases

Feb. 15, 2012  

Luther College's food services provider Sodexo, Inc., achieved one of its major goals in 2011: surpassing the 20 percent mark in purchase of locally produced foods.

Sodexo, known on campus as the Norse Culinary Team, estimates that it spent more than one-fifth of its food procurement expenditures for the 2011 calendar year to purchase food that was produced and processed within a 150-mile radius of Decorah.

"Increasing our purchases of locally produced foods will continue to be a focus of our operations in 2012," said Wayne Tudor, general manager of the Norse Culinary Team.  "While we are pleased to have reached our 20 percent goal for the past year, we plan to increase our purchases of local produce in the year ahead."

A major portion of the Norse Culinary Team’s locally produced food purchases include yogurt, ice cream, cheese curds, other dairy products and meats. The Norse Culinary Team also buys local vegetable produce in season, including all produce from the Luther Gardens planted and tended on campus by students and staff of the college's Sustainability and Environmental Education programs.

A highlight of the Norse Culinary Team’s year was preparation of the Royal Luncheon, served in October as part of the visit to Luther by King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway. All foods prepared and served at that event were produced locally.

Curtis Raddatz, purchasing specialist with Sodexo, said other primary suppliers of local foods include Grass Run Farms of Dorchester, Iowa; WW Homestead Dairy of Waukon, Iowa; Country View Dairy of Hawkeye, Iowa; and the 16 producers and growers affiliated with GROWN Locally, a cooperative of small farms in northeast Iowa that provides fresh, high quality foods to local food service institutions.

GROWN Locally producers include Andon Acres, Maynard; G It's Fresh, Ridgeway; Heathered Ridge Farm, Postville; J&J Farm, Waukon; Klauke Family Farm, Dorchester; Kymar Acres, Waukon; Mike and Laurie Tallman, Castalia; Peake Orchards, Waukon; Prairieview Vineyard, Decorah; Raspberry Valley Farm, Elgin; Rawson Berries, West Union; Ridgetop Acres, Decorah; Rockytopp Farm, Lansing; Tir na n'Og, Farmersburg; Top of the Hollow Farm; Decorah; Village Creek Farm, Lansing; and J & J Produce, LLC, Hawkeye.

"Our aim is to provide locally produced food that is good tasting, nutritional, fresh and safe," said Raddatz. "We are fortunate to work with local farmers whose products are produced, cleaned, stored and delivered to us efficiently and safely so that we can serve foods that have great taste, character and quality."

The Norse Culinary Team's drive to purchase locally produced foods is part of the multi-national corporation's buy-local commitment.  Sodexo directors recognize that consumers want to know where their food comes from, how far it travels from the farm to their plate, and how their food purchases affect the environment. They are concerned about health and wellness, and about sustainable systems of food production.

As a global leader in sustainability, Sodexo has developed policies that take into account social and environmental factors in food production and consumption. Objectives include:

• Promoting sustainability and the environment - reducing water and energy consumption, promoting waste reduction and recycling

• Improving nutrition and health - expanding Sodexo-owned programs to further promote balanced diets to prevent obesity and other health related illnesses

• Contributing to local communities – taking part in the social, economic and environmental involvement of the company and its employees in every community in which Sodexo does business

Sodexo supports sustainable local agriculture across the country by purchasing goods from more than 600 farmers in the same state or region those foods are served to its clients.

Tudor said the Norse Culinary Team is committed to sustainable operations so that the food, health and energy needs of its customers are met without compromising the earth’s resources for future generations.

Wayne Tudor