Cambridge and Somerville Local First - 2011 Coupon Book - Shift Your Shopping to Local First

Keepin’ It Real: BLFF’s Success at Staying Authentically Local

Sep 14 10:58 am

(Originally posted on the Boston Local Food Festival 2011 blog)

By Danielle Kennedy

You may not realize it, but the local movement is at a critical moment in its development. As buying locally increases in popularity across the country, skeptics want to say it’s simply the next big passing thing in food. This is the point when a movement is in danger of losing its credibility by “selling out,” and that’s what can kill it. Will the buy local movement go the way of so many failed ideologies, and be written off as a mere cultural trend in the history books?


Local certainly doesn't have to small!

Not if the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston has anything to say about it! SBN’s Boston Local Food Festival, which is expected to attract as many as 50,000 attendees this year, is back to bring local values to the masses. However, the BLFF doesn’t mainstream it with a watered-down message. Never accepting corporate sponsorship or vendors, BLFF has become huge on the shoulders of only local, independent businesses and organizations. BLFF also ups the sustainable ante by aiming to be a Zero Waste event. I’ve been to “green” events that didn’t even have recycling receptacles!

Events like this are so important to the movement. When you work within a small organization like Somerville Local First, it’s reassuring to go to a big festival and see that our supporters number in the thousands. BLFF is successful at converting new locavores because it truly has something for everybody. At last year’s inaugural celebration, activities ranged from DIY chicken farming to Post Secret-esque community art project Stir a Memory. And with free admission and the sample plates costing a mere $5 at most, BLFF has concocted a great way to introduce the “it’s too expensive” naysayers to local food on the cheap.

How has the BLFF become such a wide-reaching event without giving in to corporate pressure? “It has not been easy, but so far we have managed to do so for our first 2 years,” says Nicola Williams, President of The Williams Agency and producer of BLFF. “The success of the event is also due to partnerships and relationships we have developed with local businesses, local media, and nonprofit partners who share our organization’s values. If we succeed, they succeed.” The key to a strong local economy is the connections made between businesses. When everyone has a stake in the outcome, they will do more to ensure it thrives.


Waste not, Want Local!

For a movement that is working its way from the bottom up in grassroots fashion, it would be so easy to give in and just take the money (and money is hard to come by for us small-scale nonprofits). The fact that a local festival like this one has grown into such a huge event without taking shortcuts shows that people are actually being to realize that our current consumption patterns are just not sustainable.

The media has been touting the local movement as a fad ever since it started to really gain prominence around 2007. But the movement is still going strong. Localism is not a new concept, and it is gaining prominence now because we have come to a point where we HAVE to change our ways. So, amidst the grand ol’ time you’ll inevitably have at BLFF on October 1, remember the festival is also an ample learning opportunity. Spread the knowledge and the fun, and stay local, folks!

Get your foodie self prepared for fall and spend the day at the Boston Local Food Festival on Oct. 1, 11am-5pm. Get your tickets to the craft beer tasting, then sign up as a festival volunteer and do your part for the local movement (or do it for the freebies!).


Locally Caught Fish delivered to Union Square? It could happen!

Jul 06 2:17 pm

by Emily Currier
Cape Ann Fresh CatchGloucester Fishermens Wives Association

You've heard of CSAs, now check out CSFs!

Want to take part in Somerville’s newest sustainability initiative? With summer in the air, Cape Ann Fresh Catch(CAFC)- Community Supported Fishery (CSF) is pleased to announce that it will be coming to UNION SQUARE with fresh seafood deliveries set to start at the beginning of July. The fish is locally caught, fresh and delicious and the price is right—this program offers a sustainable and fun way to try somethinginteresting and new this summer!
Along with unparalleled freshness and flavor, this fish also comes with an added benefit: peace of mind. While enjoying into your locally caught dinner, you can pat yourself onthe back for being green and supportingthe local economy as well. CAFC fish is caught by community-based fishermen using sustainable fishing methods. Also, CAFC provides these local fishermen with a fair, higher-than-average price for their catch- helping many of them to stay in business during these tough economic times.


During its two years in operation, CAFC has been pleased to provide its share-embers with such varieties as bluefish, hake, monktail, pollock, skate, whiting, and red fish, as well as staples like cod, haddock and flounder. Because of our simple and direct boat-to-consumer model, thefish is usually swimming the morning before it hits your plate-completely unprocessed and never frozen. CAFC seafood is good for the local economy, good for the environment, and good for you!

A variety of share options are available to best suit your family’s needs. You can pick up your fish in UNION SQUARE on SATURDAYS from 11am-1pm. Please see the CAFC website formore information on the program:

Who Fishes Matters!

Before CAFC can come to Somerville, at least 80 people must express an interest in signingup by emailing us - be sure to spread the word so thisgreat program can come to Somerville!!!

Nibbles and Bits: Celebrating Somerville’s Cultural (and Culinary) Diversity

Feb 22 2:17 pm

(Ed. Note:  Today’s intro and repost is from the Nibble Blog, a new project of the Somerville Arts Council.  Be sure to tell us what you think or ideas you may have in the comments!)

Nibbles and Bits!

As part of its ArtsUnion Project, the Somerville Arts Council has launched a new blog about food and culture in Union Square and beyond. It’s called Nibble. To give folks an idea of what this blog is all about, let’s start with the definition…
Definition of “Nibble”

1) a small bite

2) an expression of interest in something

You may ask: Why is an Arts Council writing about food?

Several reasons. Food is a great common denominator; it gets people from different ethnic backgrounds talking. Through our ArtsUnion Market Tours of Union Square, we’ve found that food tells endless stories about cultural identity. We are also intrigued by the intersection of food and art—whether it’s a chef creating artful sushi or an artist using food as a subject or medium.

We invite you to join us on this gastronomic adventure. We hope you’ll leave comments, give feedback on recipes and initiate fiery discussions about esoteric foodie topics like which dried chilis work best in chili: ancho, guajillo or both?

“Nibble” is just an appetizer. We hope it inspires you to eat your way through Union Square—to shop at its numerous international markets and dine at its diverse eateries.

Here’s a recent post from the Nibble blog where Nibble guest blogger Alexis Kochka recounts a Saturday visit to the Somerville Winter Farmers Market and reflects on the culture of buying local.

Upon a recent visit to the Somerville Winter Farmers Market I was happy to see that New England’s farming heritage is strong and visible. Popping in to pick up a few things, I noticed that a lot of my Somerville neighbors had the same idea: to enjoy a Saturday morning among community and good food. The market is held in the old Armory—an expansive, unique piece of architecture that sticks out like a castle among Somerville’s double decker homes. Once a place for military drills, The Armory’s auditorium now hosts a bustling market on Saturdays.

Local Honey ~ just a bit sweeter

Local Honey ~ just a bit sweeter

The market includes a wonderful mix of local farmers and food artisans selling local and regional in-season produce and goods. Breads, root vegetables, fruit, preserves, meat, honey, cheese, wine, and even seafood fill the arena. Each vendor I met with was happy to entertain my questions. “Where’s your farm?” “How long have you been in business?” Consistently, their answers conveyed the time and mindfulness that goes into producing their goods.The cornucopia of staples and treats looked fresh, smelled tasty, and were fairly priced. I stocked up on winter carrots, apples, squash—and picked up a few treats, like a cider doughnut that I devoured then and there with the excitement of a squirrel feasting on his first acorn after months of hibernation. And I wasn’t the only one. Later I noticed that the doughnuts were sold out; apparently other squirrels at the market had sniffed out the cinnamon goodness.

Farmer's Markets = Community

Farmer's Markets = Community

Leaving the market, I felt pleased to have participated in the time-honored food culture of New England: eating what we grow, catch and store here—in a time of empty fields and stocked cupboards. It warms my heart that this tradition is alive and well in Somerville’s contemporary urban landscape. What’s more, I was thrilled to eschew a Saturday at a big grocery store buying produce that lacks the flavor—and the heritage—of a New England tradition. [Editor's note: There are also vendors at the market, like Taza Chocolate, who import produce from far away yet practice fair trade and environmental sustainability.]

The Somerville Winter Farmers Market is held at Arts at the Armory every Saturday from 10-2, from January 8-March 28; we suggest getting there early as certain items (like cider donuts and fish) can sell out early. Participating vendors include Enterprise Farm in South Deerfield, Winter Moon Farm in Hadley, Stillman’s Farm in Hardwick, Apex Orchards in Shelburne, Cook’s Farm in Brimfield, Austin Brothers Valley Farm in Belchertown, Globe Fish Company in Boston, Hi-Rise Bread Company in Cambridge, Great Cape Baking Company in Marstons Mills, 3 Little Figs in Boston, Seta’s Mediterranean Foods in West Newton, Q’s Nuts in Georgetown, Reseska Apiaries in Holliston, Elaine Hsieh, Chocolatier, in Somerville, Taza Chocolate in Somerville, Coastal Vineyards in South Dartmouth, Turtle Creek Winery in Lincoln and Zoll Cellars Winery in Shrewsbury.

The Union Square Farmers Market will begin June 4.

Nibble is part of the Somerville Arts Council’s ArtsUnion Project, which aims to spur the cultural economic development of Union Square, Somerville. Generous funding for the ArtsUnion initiative is provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s John and Abigail Adams Program and the City of Somerville. ArtsUnion has numerous partners, such as SCATV, Union Square Main Streets, ArtSomerville and the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission.

The Economics of Local Food

Dec 15 2:44 pm

In light of the announcement of Somerville’s new Winter Farmers Market we invited community blogger Rachel Leah Blumenthal of Fork It Over, Boston! to share her wealth of knowledge on the local food economy. Rachel wrote this article for her master’s degree capstone project at Boston University’s Center for Science and Medical Journalism. This is an excerpt; please follow the link at the bottom of the post to read the full article.

Meat Meet Lamb Chops

Lamb chops from the Meat Meet

At 4:30 on a gray November afternoon, I stood alone in a parking lot near Central Square in Cambridge, warily waiting for a van. When it arrived, the driver swung open the back doors to reveal a refrigeration unit filled with coolers. Inside, I saw pork butt, lamb chops, liverwurst, pigs’ legs - meat of all kinds, neatly packaged in airtight plastic with printed labels. My apprehension lessened as others arrived and began to purchase meat.

This was a “Meat Meet,” a sporadic, unofficial version of a Community-Supported Agriculture program (CSA) organized by JJ Gonson, a private chef and “locavore,” and Katie Stillman, owner of Stillman’s at the Turkey Farm in Hardwick, a tiny town 20 miles west of Worcester. Several times a month throughout the winter, a Stillman’s van arrives at a pre-determined drop-off spot, and anyone can come and buy meat.

Word spreads mainly by mouth; I learned of the Meat Meet that very morning thanks to a vague message posted by Gonson on Twitter. It was the first Meat Meet of the season, and only five people, including me, showed up. The others stocked up on several meals’ worth of meat, but I just bought four lamb chops and prepared them for dinner that night. They were probably the most delicious lamb chops I had ever eaten.

This is what eating local food is all about - sometimes it takes a little bit of foraging to find it. From farmers markets to Meat Meets to CSAs (programs where you buy shares of a farm in exchange for produce), it can take a lot of time and effort to find, purchase, and cook exclusively local products.  Cost is a big issue as well: local food has earned the reputation of being an elitist movement, only available to those who can afford it. But when we stop looking at the prices solely from the consumer’s standpoint, it’s clear there’s a bigger picture.

Production costs, labor costs, and many other factors go into that number on the price tag, and though we’re used to seeing the artificially low prices that come out of the industrial food system, we can come to accept the “high” prices of food coming out of our local small farms as we examine the intangible benefits that those prices include. As Boston’s local food movement grows, the issues of affordability and accessibility will become more complex. However, a mix of policy changes, education, and cooperation between producers and consumers can lead to a better food system that benefits everyone.

Continue reading here.

Help Intern Julia Make Friends With Vegetables

Aug 04 11:48 am

by Julia Stimeck

A course on food security is what really opened my eyes to the local movement. I wanted to get involved to take power away from big companies who do scary things with seeds and cows and corn. Although it took a Tufts class to bring these issues to my attention, the more I looked around, the more it made sense. When was the last time there had been any cows grazing at the intersection in my town we still call “Cow Point?” Why do food ingredients sound more like they belong in a science lab than in my kitchen pantry?

I responded to my fear by searching for alternatives, and trying to convince my housemates to join a CSA with me. While some considered the idea and others balked at the price, one made the strongest argument of all. “Julia,” she reminded me, “you don’t like vegetables.” It’s true! I have a long history of ignoring everything green on my plate. How am I supposed to break free of the corporate giants when Pop-Tarts and Easy Mac make up two of my main meals of the day?

Nevertheless, I put the date of the first Davis Square Farmers Market on my calendar. I would prove my housemates wrong! I would eat vegetables, and I would like them! So on the first day, I took my shopping bags, I went to the market, and I bought…nothing. If I don’t know how to eat vegetables, I certainly don’t know how to cook them. For the next few weeks, I continued to marvel at shoppers who were confidently weighing out vegetables I had never seen before. I was jealous of their shopping bags full of colorful bounty, while all I had was a block of cheese or bar of chocolate.

These savvy shoppers clearly had knowledge on their side, but I had the internet, too. A few Google searches later, I found out what was in season and how to cook it. I wrote myself a shopping list and even made some impulse purchases on summer squash and heirloom tomatoes. My final preparatory step was to call my mom and ask for more cooking advice. I finally began chopping, sautéing, baking, and generally pretending I knew what I was doing.

The meal wasn’t perfect, but my housemates claimed to enjoy it (not that it’s hard to get people to say nice things when you’re giving them free food). The important thing is that I’m over my fear of the food. Me and vegetables aren’t best friends yet, but I can definitely make room for them next to the Easy Mac.

Readers - Help our Intrepid Intern Julia Shift her Shopping to More Local Produce - Comment Here With Suggestions For Her

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