Brown University's 2005 "Ripe" calendar depicts amateur student models provocatively posed with the appropriate produce ripe for each month of the calendar year.
Think of it as Calendar Girls (and Boys) needing colanders. The tasteful-yet-provocative compositions with the strategically placed produce have made "Ripe," a 2005 calendar featuring unclothed amateur student models, one of Brown University's hottest-selling on-campus items.
"Ripe" was produced by Brown's local foods task force to promote the consumption on campus of seasonal fruits and vegetables grown in Rhode Island. Each month features a different crop that is "ripe" at that time of the year, along with a list of other fruits and vegetables in peak season that month, and a simple recipe featuring the pictured item...oh, there's also a picture of the particular fruit or vegetable, posing with students in the buff.
"We're trying to get people to think about how to eat more with the seasons," understates "Ripe" impresario Louella Hill. "For example, we want to show why it's better to serve cucumber salad in June, when locally grown cucumbers are ripe, than in April, when they have to be shipped in from hundreds of miles away."
Hill, a 2004 Brown graduate whose selfdescribed title is "local foods ambassador," was hired by the school last year to coordinate, expand and promote the use of locally harvested foods on campus. The initiative started with apples last fall but has expanded to encompass a range of other crops, as well as dairy items like milk and eggs. Hill says she is also exploring ties with a local poultry processor and even fishermen who ply the nearby waters of the North Atlantic.
The crowning achievement of Brown's local foods initiative so far has been a weekly farmers market that brings fresh produce directly to the campus community while giving local growers a guaranteed market for their crops (the school purchases any unsold product at day's end).
Hill acknowledges-that her project faces significant hurdles, not the least of which is Rhode Island's abbreviated growing season, which generally overlaps only about half of the school year. There is also the problem of logistics: smaller producers can't economically deliver to the campus with the needed frequency. Hill says she is looking into working with a wholesaler but is reluctant to increase costs by introducing a middleman.
There is plenty of room for growth, however. Last year, the school purchased only about 30,000 pounds of local product all together, a drop in the bucket of the food needs of a school that serves some 4,000 meals daily in its dining halls alone.
As for the risque calendar, Hill says there was very little controversy over it at Brown. "There was a little nervousness on the part of the students who modeled, but generally it was seen as something very positive," she notes, adding that the local foods task force is already talking about a 2006 version. They don't expect any shortage of volunteers to go before the cameras.