Category Archives: Farmers Market

Eat, Learn, Share at Boston’s Upcoming Food Festivals

by Myrna Greenfield, Good Egg Marketing

Food servings from Boston Local Food Festival

One of the delicious dishes available at last year’s Boston Local Food Festival.

The principles behind Food Day are words that I try to eat and live by: promote safer, healthier diets; support sustainable and organic farms; reduce hunger; reform factory farms to protect the environment and farm animals; support fair working conditions for food and farm workers.

This September, Massachusetts is blessed to have two major food festivals that help people learn about and celebrate healthy local food. Although neither the Boston Local Food Festival nor Let’s Talk About Food was specifically created around Food Day, they’re both great places to build a community around Food Day issues.

Boston Local Food Festival logoThe Boston Local Food Festival (BLFF), now celebrating its 5th year, is a free outdoor event that will take place on Sunday, September 14 on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway (near the Aquarium MBTA stop) from 11am-5pm.  BLFF celebrates “Healthy, Local Food For All” by showcasing local farms, restaurants, food trucks, fishers, specialty food producers, and food and fitness-related organizations from around New England. The festival is a “zero-waste” event that aims to compost or recycle 100 percent of the waste generated at the festival.

The Boston Local Food Festival is produced by the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) and is built upon the principles of creating a local, green and fair economy. (Disclosure: I’m an SBN board member.) Earlier this year, SBN was one of the organizations that successfully campaigned to increase the minimum wage in Massachusetts. This year’s festival will serve as a launching pad for “A New England Food Vision,” a groundbreaking report from Food Solutions New England (FSNE) that challenges Massachusetts and the New England region to ensure that 50 percent of food consumed is locally produced by 2060.

Mystery seafood -  Photo by Pencil OneThere’s always tons to do at the fest, such as choosing which local restaurants to grab a bite from (servings are all priced at $6 or less), watching chef & DIY demos, and enjoying live music. Since I’m a big fan of TV cooking competitions, one of my favorite activities is the “Seafood Throwdown,” sponsored by Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA).

The competing chefs show up with three of their favorite ingredients, but they don’t know which seafood they’ll have to cook with until they arrive. Each chef gets $25 and 15 minutes to shop the Boston Local Food Festival’s vendors for ingredients, then they get one hour to cook.  This year, the chefs from Community Servings and Restaurant Opportunity Center of Boston will try to wow the judges with their skill and creativity.  As I know from watching the shows, it’s harder than it looks!

This year’s festival will feature an enhanced “Family Fun Zone,” where Nourish Boston will teach you how to grow your own plants and the Urban Hydr-“O” Farmers will show you how to build your own hydroponic system.  You can also explore a tidal pool exhibit from New England Aquarium.  And there’ll be tennis workshops and yoga classes, too.

Check out the BLFF festival website for more info.

 

Jody Adams Cooking Demo

Chef Jody Adams (right) leads a cooking demo at the 2013 Let’s Talk About Food Festival

Grow Your Own Collards and KaleThe Let’s Talk about Food (LTAF) Festival on Saturday, September 27, from 11am-4pm in Boston’s Copley Square is a free event featuring a wide range of activities, from food vendors, hands-on cooking demonstrations, and edible gardens to “Kids Can Cook,” “Ask-a-Chef,” and “Ask-A-Nutritionist” tents. Project Bread is running a “School Food Fair,” and the films Cafeteria Man and Fed Up will be shown.

On Friday, September 26, LTAF is partnering with Food Policy Action to present a “Vote With Your Fork” rally at Trinity Church from 6-8pm on why we should consider candidates’ votes on food and farming legislation when casting our ballots. The event features live music, speakers, and legislators. It’s free and open to the public, but registration is encouraged,

LTAF logoThe festival is organized by Let’s Talk about Food–a national organization founded in Boston in 2010 that is aimed at increasing the level of public literacy about all aspects of our food system.

LTAF holds events designed to get people to talk about everything from allergies to agriculture, school lunch to food science. In addition, LTAF has taken a leadership role in trying to improve the quality of the food served in schools.  In my opinion, bringing Food Day principles into the public schools is one of the fastest and most egalitarian ways to ensure that every child has access to healthy local food, so we need more of these initiatives.

Let’s Talk About Food founder and noted food writer/activist Louisa Kasdon says, “Talking about food leads to action about food. Through these conversations, interactive cooking demonstrations and sampling of healthy foods, we strive to educate and empower action in the kitchen—from changing the food our children eat to the food on the dinner table.”

She adds, “It is our hope that Let’s Talk About Food will improve the health of our community, while reducing the impact our food choices have on the environment.”

Here’s information on the LTAF festival schedule.

Can’t decide which festival to go to? How about both?

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National Farmer’s Market Week in Massachusetts

Image courtesy of http://www.menupix.com

The 15th Annual National Farmers Market week is in full swing! This week celebrates local farmers and the markets where they supply fresh food for the community.  Farmers markets are crucial to supporting local, small and mid-sized farmers. It’s important to recognize that they also provide a number of benefits for our health, our community, and our economy.

According to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick,

“Farmers markets are essential to the vitality of Massachusetts farms and are part of the cultural tradition of the Commonwealth; [they] create a festive open air setting which enhances community spirit and civic pride by offering a natural place for community gathering, [and] help heighten public awareness of the agricultural diversity of Massachusetts and the benefits of buying local and preserving open space” (www.mass.gov).

Here’s 10 great reasons to shop at your local farmers market this week, and throughout the year:

  1. Fresh food for you and your family: The produce at farmers markets is as fresh as it gets and that means you’re getting food that tastes better and is more nutrient-rich than food that has traveled hundreds of miles to a grocery store.
  2. Engage with your community: Farmers markets are perfect for meeting others in the neighborhood as well as your local farmers. Shopping at farmers markets is a communal experience, where you create a connection to your neighbors and your environment.
  3. Support local farmers directly: When you buy from farmers, the middleman disappears and they get full retail price for their products.
  4. Help conserve energy: When you buy local food, the environment benefits too. On average, our produce travels 1,500 miles (by air or vehicle) to the grocery store. When you buy local produce, the amount of petroleum used is significantly less.
  5. Create less waste: Buying produce directly from a farmers market, you don’t have to deal with any packaging. You won’t pay for the package, or have to dispose of any.
  6. Ensure a future for local food: In buying food at farmers markets, you keep those farms in your community and ensure that future generations will have access to fresh, nourishing, local food.

There’s no better way to celebrate Farmer’s Market week than to head to one of Massachusetts’ 306 farmers markets! Over 110 farmers markets in Massachusetts participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (accepting food stamps/EBT). To find a farmers market near you, visit MassFarmersMarkets.org.