Illinois State students sampled delectable dishes created from local ingredients at the 7th annual Local Foods Dinner, hosted at Linkins Dining Center on August 27.

The menu for the dinner featured more than 20 items including dishes such as grilled yakitori chicken with green beans, braised pork belly with a green chili crema and calabacitias, beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts, cherry tomato and sweet onion salad, and apple crisp. All were made from ingredients available in Bloomington-Normal and the surrounding region.

Purchasing from local vendors gives Campus Dining Executive Chef Matt Horton ’12 and his staff the opportunity to try new recipes, while also working with fresher ingredients, often at a lower cost. Students are able to taste the difference and expand their palates through new flavors and styles of cooking.

“Campus Dining offers this event because we’re interested in the local economy and are trying to decrease our carbon footprint,” said Dianne Feasley, associate director for nutrition and culinary services. “There’s also a local foods and farms act passed by the state legislature, and they encourage us to buy local foods. So it was one of the ways we could get our foot in the door, try to work with local farmers, and see what it would take to increase the amount of local foods offered to our students.”

This was also the first year Campus Dining did not require tickets for the event, opening the dinner up to any student who pays the normal door price or uses their meal plan.

Vendors included Anna and Betty’s Garden in Streator; Bane Family Meats in Sidney; Brown’s Produce in Bloomington; Carl’s Ice Cream in Normal; Curtis Orchard in Champaign; Green Acres Herb Farm in Lowpoint; Huelskoetter Pork in Beason; Prairie Fruits Farm in Champaign; Rendleman Orchards Inc. in Alto Pass; and Troyer Family Gardens in Hudson.

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