Our Food Philosophy

Chewonki Food Philosophy

“Good food, good for you, good for the world.”  ~Bill Edgerton, Former Kitchen Manager

Item 1: Statement of Belief

Food is the fuel that supports our work and play.  Daily, shared acts of growing, preparing, and eating food are fundamental opportunities to responsibly fill one of our most basic needs as humans.  Education is inherent in all aspects of Chewonki’s farm and food system.  Both within Chewonki’s programs and throughout their lives, our staff and participants intentionally further Chewonki’s mission through intersections with farming and food systems.  We cultivate transformative personal growth and bolster communities on the farm, in the kitchen and dining hall and during meals shared on encampments and trips.  We model growing practices and purchasing choices that limit our impact on the natural world.  As we make choices about food, we value the following things: nutrition, environmental and ethical sustainability, financial cost, connection to place and community, program suitability, and sensory appeal.

Item 2: Values/Priorities (Note that these values are not prioritized)

Nutrition: To fuel the growth of program participants and staff, food served should be healthy and nourishing.

  • Are meals well-balanced, and are portion sizes appropriate to nutritional needs?
  • Are ingredients whole, or as unprocessed as possible?
  • Are dietary restrictions and allergies accommodated?
  • Do participants and staff have access to the information they need in order to make healthy choices regarding food?

Environmental and Ethical Sustainability: To support and teach stewardship of the natural world, food should be purchased from sources employing production methods that are environmentally and ethically sound. Purchased foods should be as sustainable as possible.

  • How does the production of the food affect the environment?
  • What are the inputs involved in producing this food?
  • How does this food’s packaging contribute to the waste stream?
  • Are our foods produced as ethically as possible?
  • Are the living and working conditions of the people involved in this supply chain just and fair?

Financial Cost: Our food system should contribute to the overall financial health of the organization. In purchasing food, we should seek to meet the other priorities listed here within a carefully maintained budget.

  • Are we consuming non-essential foods in an intentional manner?
  • Can we afford the labor and infrastructure required to grow and/or prepare this food?
  • Is the food we are choosing the least expensive in a set of equivalent products?

Connection to Place and Community: To help build a strong local community, food should be preferentially purchased from Maine providers or as locally as possible. To support the broader human community, food that cannot be purchased locally should be purchased from socially responsible sources.

  • How far has this food travelled to reach our plate?
  • What is our relationship with our producers/vendors?  Is it possible to know them?  Do we trust their practices?  
  • Is this food in season?  Are we focusing on utilizing seasonally available foods?

Program Suitability: In order to meet the needs of diverse programs and participants, food choices should be adapted to the population that the food will serve. We define suitability as meeting the needs of the specific program.

  • Does the meal and/or food meet the nutritional requirements of the population?
  • Given the program duration, are the ingredients diverse enough to satisfy the population?
  • Will this food meet the needs of participants, in terms of comfort, familiarity, and expectation?
  • Is the food shelf-stable, packable, portable, and preparable, given programmatic constraints?

Sensory Appeal: Whenever we prepare food, it should appeal to all five senses, especially taste.