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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Support local farmers directly: When you buy from farmers, the middleman disappears and they get full retail price for their products.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Our blog started in 2012 to create a virtual town common where individuals and groups supporting Food Day can showcase their efforts. The variety of content, creativity in expression, and colorful images show commitment across the Commonwealth that inspires.
The most popular blog posts of 2013.
- 1 A Food Forest Grows in Boston?
- 2 Green City Growers Disrupts Local Food Industry in Boston
- 3 Dancing Our Way to Food Day!
- 4 KickinKitchen.TV, a Hip New Cooking TV Series and Interactive Website for Tweens and Teens!
- 5 “Connected Food” Event in Cambridge, MA
How did they find us?
The top referring sites in 2013 were:
Special thanks to Sarah Cadorette, the Food Day Organizer who managed our Social Media efforts in 2013.
By Jean Terranova and David Waters
One week from tomorrow, the SNAP/Food Stamp benefit stimulus created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will end. This means that all SNAP recipients will see a reduction in their already meager benefits beginning November 1. With the proposed drastic cuts to SNAP looming in the erratic Farm Bill negotiations, anti-hunger advocates must explore alternative sources of funding to supplement the food resources of people in need.
As the Affordable Care Act survived the showdown that brought the Government to its knees and states like Massachusetts are pioneering new models to improve health outcomes while decreasing health care spending, we believe the time is right for anti-hunger advocates to press for the inclusion of sustainable, healthy, affordable foods in the health care system. Studies show that food can be a low-cost means to keep people in their homes and communities, avoiding the need for exorbitant spending on emergency room visits, hospital stays, and nursing home admissions. A recent study estimated that if all states had increased by a mere one percent the number of adults age sixty-five or older who received home-delivered meals in 2009 under Title III of the Older Americans Act, annual savings to states’ Medicaid programs could have exceeded $109 million due to decreased spending on nursing home care. We believe this number would increase exponentially and have a major impact on our food system if these meals were to include high quality locally sourced fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients.
Here are three ways that you can join us and learn more about our campaign to advocate for the inclusion of food as prevention, treatment, and “medicine” for individuals with chronic disease and critical illnesses in health care reform initiatives:
Join the symposium we are co-hosting with Harvard’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, the Food Law Policy Clinic, and the Food Law Society on October 30;
Attend our session on “Food is medicine and prevention” at the American Public Health Association on November 5;
Contact us if you are interested in joining our Advocacy Committee.
David B. Waters, CEO, Community Servings
Jean Terranova, Director of Food and Health Policy, Community Servings
Hannaford Supermarkets are celebrating Food Day 2013 in over 20 stores across Massachusetts, and they’re inviting you and your kids to play with your food!
FOODPLAY, a national award-winning nutrition theater show, is bringing its cast of colorful characters, amazing feats of juggling, hip-hop music, and audience participation to turn kids on to healthy eating and active lifestyles to the Lowell and Hudson Hannaford locations.
FOODPLAY makes good eating great fun, but its messages are serious. In the last 25 years, childhood obesity rates have doubled among elementary school children and tripled among teenagers. One in three children is overweight, and less than two percent of the nation’s youth are meeting their daily nutritional requirements. Kids on average are drinking more than 600 cans of soda and consuming more than 150 pounds of sugars a year, missing out on recommended levels of fruits, vegetables and whole grains needed for optimal health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over one-third of the nation’s youth will develop diabetes if current eating and exercise habits don’t improve.
Locations in Leominster, North Brookfield, Lunenberg, Orange and Townsend will be holding an Apple Crunch, in which associates will visit local schools with apples for students to sample and discuss the benefits of a well-balanced diet. In-store displays will invite shoppers to taste test and compare apple varieties.
Food Day is a reminder to eat well all year-round, and we hope you join Hannaford Supermarkets in doing so!
The Harvard Square Business Association is proud to participate in the 3rd Annual National Food Day, with not one, but two exciting events: healthy and sustainable menu items in select Harvard Square eateries and a free tasting event!
The 20-Mile Food Challenge on October 24th will showcase restaurants that are featuring special dishes using ingredients sourced within a 20 mile radius of Harvard Square. Restaurants participating in the 20-Mile Food Challenge include:
1 Eliot Street, (617) 945-9450, http://www.osushicambridge.com
the red house
98 Winthrop Street, (617) 576-0605, http://www.redhousecambridge.com
1 Bennett Street, (617) 500-3055, http://www.rialto-restaurant.com
Russell House Tavern
14 JFK Street, (617) 500-3055, http://www.russellhousecambridge.com
8 Holyoke Street, (617) 497-5300, http://www.sandrines.com
52 Church Street, (617) 547-5200, http://www.sinclaircambridge.com
Summer Shack Cambridge
149 Alewife Brook Parkway, (617) 520-9500, http://www.summershackrestaurant.com
UpStairs on the Square
91 Winthrop Street, (617) 864-1933, http://www.upstairsonthesquare.com
The free tasting event begins at 5:30pm. Please join us on Brattle Plaza (In front of Crema Café – 27 Brattle Street) for this delicious event that will last as long as the food does! Representatives from the restaurants listed below will be on hand distributing tasty tidbits from their sustainable and creative Food Day menus. Be sure to get there early – with restaurants like these, food will go quickly!
Russell House Tavern
Summer Shack Cambridge
The Harvard Square Business Association is delighted to participate in Food Day, a celebration of and moving toward more healthy, affordable and sustainable food. Referred to as “Earth Day for food”, Food Day strengthens the connection between consumers and local producers, while advocating for policies that support productive and respectful food systems. Last year, Massachusetts led the country with the number of activities organized. This year, The Commonwealth is on track to host 700 activities to support this movement.
For additional information about National Food Day and other events in Harvard Square, please visit http://www.harvardsquare.com
By Erin Feeney
According to farmfresh.org, Eastern Massachusetts has over 1,200 fruit and vegetable farms. This profusion of locally available produce is enjoyed by great numbers of Bay Staters. While the local food movement is increasing in popularity in Massachusetts and around the nation, much of the food being produced is lost to waste. On average, up to 40 percent of agricultural production is wasted from ‘farm to fork to landfill’ due to modern farming practices as well as losses, particularly of perishable product, all along the supply chain.
Boston Area Gleaners’ (BAG) mission is to remedy part of this waste by harvesting and delivering gleaned produce to food pantries, shelters, and soup kitchens. Gleaning is a biblical term referring to the law of those times that required farmers to let peasants onto their farms after the harvest to “glean” whatever produce was left in the fields. Produce is left in the fields for various reasons. Sometimes crops are planted as a bumper in case others fail. If these crops are not needed, the farmer will usually plow it under. Other factors include the imperfection of harvest machinery, impending weather, highly successful seed propagation, closing markets, or slight damage caused by frost or pests, making it therefore difficult to sell.
All produce gleaned by BAG volunteers is donated to food agencies. Farmers receive no financial benefit; most decide to call in the Gleaners because of their own moral compass. However, because of the cost of labor, even if farmers wish to donate their surplus, they cannot afford to harvest it if it will not be sold. This is the gap that BAG’s volunteers fill with their labor. Volunteers experience the beauty of local farms and learn about the realities of farming, an excellent opportunity for the reintroduction of lost farming and food knowledge. By providing gleaning services to local farmers, BAG aids farmers in improving food in the Boston area. BAG has gleaned over 250K pounds since the project began in 2004 and we can do so much more with your help!
And don’t forget to visit our website at http://www.bostonareagleaners.org!