You may notice that Farms & Fields Project has a very unique menu, compared with the other dining venues on campus. Whereas Frank’s next door always offers a fantastic sandwich that doesn’t change day to day, one always has to check the chalk menu board outside of F&F to see what the options are. There is a reason for this.
Farms & Fields Project goes off of what is called a “seasonal menu”. This means that on any given day, the food that is served at F&F celebrates and gives thought to the current season. As you may know, food originates from the ground or a tree from a plant or from an animal. Where you are geographically affects your climate and the ability of some food plants or animals to thrive. For example, it’s hard to conceptualize carving a pumpkin in the springtime. In the same way, our ancestors used to think of a tomato in the wintertime. It doesn’t make sense because tomatoes don’t grow in the wintertime (in Virginia and most other places in the US). That attitude has changed about tomatoes but not pumpkins because of the fact that we can import our tomatoes from far away in all seasons, but we still reserve pumpkins for fall because it’s so ingrained in our culture. F&F gives thought and respect to the idea of a food culture, where eaters can celebrate and indulge in what the current season has to offer. In the same way how carving pumpkins is fun but feels special because it comes once a year, as can the myriad of foods Virginia and the region have to offer. Putting the seasonal food cycle back into culture brings a richer way of eating, sharing, cooking, supporting our farming neighbors, and loving where we live.
Eating seasonally is not about restricting options, but rather celebrating the seasons by living by them and learning new things about what our land has to offer.