CALDWELL — Taking advantage of Idaho’s bountiful harvest before the cold months hit, The College of Idaho threw a dinner Saturday for nearly 80 people using 100 percent Idaho ingredients.

Bon Appetit, C of I’s campus food service known nationally for pioneering in the local food movement, strives to use as many local ingredients as possible year round, catering lead Justin Christensen said.

“Not only do we use local, but we try to use a lot of organic and non-chemical farming,” he said. “So it does make a big difference in food taste.”

The Idaho harvest is bountiful now, he said, but finding local produce in the winter gets a bit trickier.

Local food options are definitely slimmer in the winter, but not gone altogether, C of I environmental studies professor Rochelle Johnson said.

“It’s amazing, actually, how much food is available locally in the winter,” she said. “... A lot of what we grow are root vegetables that grow really well in the winter months.”

As weekly farmers markets begin to wind down, Idaho produce is still sold at places like The Boise Co-op, Karcher Ranch Market in Nampa, Cliff’s Country Market in Caldwell and online through Idaho’s Bounty, she said.

“The costs (for local foods) aren’t as high as what you would think,” Johnson said, because the food didn’t have to be transported and packaged.

Greenhouses allow foods to be grown even during off seasons, and farmers can apply for government grants to help with the costs.

Buying local also has a personal aspect to it and has allowed Bon Appetit chefs like Christensen get to know the farmers they buy from, he said.

“We know that they care … about giving the best to us so we can make beautiful food out of it,” he said.

Some of his personal favorites to cook with are Idaho’s corn, sweet potatoes and herbs.

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