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Stanton stands with Standing Rock; catering crew to feed 500 for Thanksgiving

“I’m going to support those people and give them sustenance. We also believe very strongly that people should be treated with respect and their property should not be abused by corporate interests.” --- Jeremy Stanton, owner of the Meat Market

Great Barrington — As the fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline grows more entrenched and violent at Standing Rock Indian Reservation, a team from the Berkshires is packing up equipment and heading to North Dakota to make a Thanksgiving feast for 500 people, mostly several hundred different tribes of the Standing Rock Sioux who call themselves “Protectors” instead of “protesters.”

Jeremy Stanton, owner of The Meat Market, The Camp Fire Grill, and Fire Roasted Catering, has packed up his catering equipment, and with his core staff of seven, will drive three trucks for 26 hours to the Oceti Sakowin camp, where a large camp kitchen — one of many across the camp — was assembled and run by volunteers to feed activists at one of our nation’s foremost battlegrounds for its moral heart.

Jeremy Stanton in the kitchen of Camp Fire Grill. Photo: Heather Bellow
Jeremy Stanton in the kitchen of Camp Fire Grill. Photo: Heather Bellow

For this massive Thanksgiving undertaking, Stanton and his crew, all seasoned at cooking and fire-roasting meat for huge parties, will run the show, he said, with 40 more volunteers to prepare and serve dinner.

“The logistics are beyond incredible,” Stanton said. “It’s a feat, dealing with the challenge of an effort of this magnitude.”

We are talking 30 pasture-raised turkeys, donated by Bill Nieman from BN Ranch in Northern California, and spit-roasted by Stanton and crew. Volunteers will prepare other dishes as well.

The dinner was the brainchild of Judy Wicks, activist and former owner of the Black Dog Cafe in Philadelphia, who used to host Native American Thanksgiving dinners at the Cafe, and invite Native Americans from that region.

“She got my number from [Blue Hill Stone Barns chef] Dan Barber, which was really cool,” Stanton said. “Then she called me, and I am so thrilled and happy to be involved. I happen to have a skill that fits nicely with what Judy’s vision was, and it was an opportunity to give something back.”

Wicks, he said, “had founded her restaurant with the intention towards supporting sustainable agriculture and preventing the demise of the planet.”

Stanton and Meat Market Grill staff catering a Berkshire event.
Stanton and Fire Roasted Catering staff catering a Berkshire event.

Stanton said he and his crew are used to “high-volume, high-quality catering for weddings and other events every weekend, so it was easy for me to say yes. It’s an honor.”

As usual, Stanton isn’t letting logistical uncertainties mess with his mission, though he knows it will be an adventure. “So many details are up in the air,” he said. “We’re 1,700 miles away from a humanitarian cause.”

He said he knows there will be some surprises, but he said he did as much as he could to make the entire undertaking as “comfortable and secure as possible.”

Oceti Sakowin camp kitchen.
Oceti Sakowin camp kitchen.

The Dakota Access oil pipeline is a $3.7 billion project by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, set to cross four states and carry flammable crude oil under the Missouri River. Citizens of Bismarck, whose population is 90 percent white, managed to steer the project away from the city, claiming it may contaminate drinking water. The path through the reservation not only threatens drinking water for millions as it moves downstream, but also imperils the Sioux’s sacred burial grounds.

But people need to eat, especially when the tear gas and rubber bullets are ready to fly.

“I’m going to support those people and give them sustenance,” Stanton said. “We also believe very strongly that people should be treated with respect and their property should not be abused by corporate interests. We’re going for cause, and for the specific mission to feed people.”

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