Somerville Local First

A Holiday Message from Slow Food: Shift Your Eating!

Nov 22 3:00 pm

By Erin McIver

Erin McIver is the president of Northeastern University’s chapter of Slow Food. Check out the Slow Food NU blog, and be sure to keep an eye out for the companion blog post we’ll be writing for them!



Read on to find out what Slow Food is all about!

Slow Food is a way of life that has grown out of an international movement to change our current food system and bring us back to a way of eating that is good for our bodies, our society, and our Earth. We believe that food should be good, clean, and fair for all. This means that the food we eat should taste good, be culturally appropriate, and be made with some tender love and care. Food should also be clean, and thus be nutritious and have a positive impact on our local ecosystem. Lastly, food should be fair. We believe that food is a universal right, and therefore, regardless of income everyone should have the ability to access it. This also means that food should exist in a system that is fair to those who produce it.

Slow Food NU, a local chapter run out of Northeastern University, and Somerville Local First are like two peas in a pod. We at SFNU encourage our members to support local farmers by shopping at the local farmers’ market. We were even able to get CSAs on campus for the very first time through the new NU Farmers’ Market. Shopping at the farmers’ market builds community between students and farmers, allowing students to be nourished by fresh, local foods and keeping small farmers thriving in business.

However, there is more to slow and local food than simply supporting our local communities. There is a global consideration we must make as well. When we step into the grocery store, we see a huge array of produce at our fingertips. But, we all know that bananas and avocados do not grow in New England - those things are being shipped across to the globe to get to our local markets. Food that you find at the supermarket has on average travelled 1,500 miles to get there. By eating what is in season, we can decrease the environmental damage caused by shipping foods in gas-guzzling 18-wheelers. Shopping locally also ensures finding fresher ingredients. That supermarket tomato has been picked days and days before reaching your kitchen. In order to compensate, genetically modified (GM) tomatoes have been produced to last longer and look fresher, but they certainly don’t taste any better than that farmer’s tomato that was plucked from the vine yesterday. Plus, no one really knows the long term effects of GM crops on humans - but we do know it is not looking too good for the environment.

So, what IS in season in New England right now for us to do our part to be good to our bodies, society, and the Earth? Let’s see: Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Celery Root, Chard, Cranberries, Fennel, Kale, Leeks, Parsley, Parsnips, Pears, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Rutabagas, Winter Squash and Turnips. Root vegetables seem to have been shunned throughout history, leaving them to be considered the food of peasantry. However, these vegetables contain no fat, little calories, and are a great source of protein and antioxidants. They are, in fact, a truly noble food! Our unfamiliarity with this class of vegetable has made us apprehensive and unwilling to experiment, but there isn’t anything you can’t do with them! Braise them, grill them, roast them, mash them, make them into soups, cookies or even chips!

Whether you’re a root vegetable fanatic or a newbie, try this delicious and simple recipe for Butternut Squash with Whole Wheat, Wild Rice and Onion Stuffing suggested by Slow Food USA for this holiday season. So load up on ingredients from your local farmers’ market or co-op, and do your part by helping out yourself, your community, and your Earth.


Serves: 8

  • 4 medium-small butternut squashes (about 1 pound each)

    Butternut Squash with Whole Wheat, Wild Rice and Onion Stuffing

  • 3/4 cup raw wild rice, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • 1 heaping cup chopped red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups firmly packed torn whole wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • Sliced fresh sage leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons season blend , or to taste
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.


Halve the squashes and scoop out seeds and fibers. Place them cut side up in shallow baking dishes and cover tightly with covers or more foil. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife but still firm.

In the meantime, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in the wild rice, reduce to a simmer, then cover and cook until the water is absorbed, about 40 minutes.

Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until golden.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked wild rice with the sautéed onion and the remaining ingredients. When the squashes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the pulp, leaving firm shells about 1/2 inch thick. Chop the pulp and stir it into the rice mixture. Stuff the squashes, place in foil-lined baking dishes, and cover.

Before serving, place the squashes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until well heated through.

VARIATION: To add drama to this presentation, try this recipe with other squash varieties. Hubbard squash, delicata, sweet dumpling and golden nugget are just a few of the stuffable edible squashes available.


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