By KATIE LOVETT
As the sun disappeared and the air began to chill Saturday night, Davidson College students gathered behind Vail Commons Dining Hall for a free meal – a locally-sourced barbeque dinner. Dubbed “Power, People, Pork,” the meal encouraged diners to think critically about the modern food system.
The home-cooked menu featured ingredients from nearby farms, all bought, prepared, and served by members of The Environmental Action Coalition (EAC) and the Davidson Food Club. These two student organizations cosponsored the event as a continuation of their mission to bring local, sustainable food to Davidson.
More than 500 students made the trek plates and forks in hand – it was BYOPS, Bring Your Own Plate and Silverware. They milled around before moving down the buffet line, piling their plates high with rice and sweet potato salad, cornbread, mixed greens salad, baked apples, and, of course, roast pork. Ingredients for the side dishes were purchased from Anson Mills, Barbee Farms, The Bradford Store, and Healthy Home Market.
The star of the show was the pulled pork, juicy and tender after slow roasting for 12 hours. Wild Turkey Farms, a joint venture shared by Lee and Domisty Menius and their two sons, delivered two whole pigs to Davidson’s campus on Friday afternoon. Located 20 miles away in China Grove, Wild Turkey Farms raises Berkshire and Tamworth pigs on pasture along with grass fed Angus beef, grass fed lamb, pasture raised broilers, and free range laying hens. They also feature their namesake, wild turkeys, around Thanksgiving each year.
Sophomore and Nebraska native Sara Nordstrand rolled out of bed well before dawn on Saturday morning to make sure the pig roasting began right on schedule. A member of the Davidson Food Club, Sara is also the main force behind the Davidson College food cart, stationed outside Chambers academic building Tuesdays from 11:05 a.m to 12:05 p.m.
When asked about the experience, she reflected on the process of taking the Wild Turkey Farms pigs from farm to table.
“I had an amazing time spending the day roasting the pig,” she said. “I have been a vegetarian for almost a year, but today I had my first bite of a Wild Turkey Farms pig. I challenged myself to be a vegetarian until I had raised, killed, and cooked my own form of protein. Although I didn’t kill the pig, I felt a connection with its purpose.”
Planning began for the third annual Power, People, Pork the moment Food Club members stepped foot on campus for fall semester.
“It takes a significant amount of planning. We handle everything from set up to cooking,” said senior Food Club member Abbey Thibeault.
The event also placed a strong emphasis on education. Food Club and EAC organized a trivia night with questions about food and sustainability during the week leading up to Power, People, Pork. Members also placed “food facts” on dinner tables to educate people about the importance of eating locally.
“The purpose of the event is to bring people together to enjoy a local meal, and to show people where they find local food,” Ms. Thibeault said. “If ten to fifteen kids can cook a local meal for 500 people in one night, then anyone can prepare healthy, sustainable meals for themselves.”
Added Ms. Nordstrand: “Now I have a greater respect for livestock and I was grateful to participate in the process.”
Organizers hope “Power, People, Pork” left the 500 Davidson diners with a similar respect for eating locally.