Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Boston Local Food Festival thoughts

Despite being laid out with a nasty cough & cold in the days leadings up to Saturday, I was able to rally and get myself down to the Boston Local Food Festival. The weather cooperated and the crowds came out in force . Those who made it out certainly weren't disappointed by all the organizations, demonstrations, and most importantly local food producers who made the event a smashing success!
Some personal highlights and favorites from the day:
Meeting Pat & Kristin Hayes (pictured above) of Hayes Farm in Enosburg Falls, VT. They made the 4+ hour trek to Boston to represent the dairy farmers of Organic Valley. They were one of the first people I interacted with at the festival and it stands out how down to earth they were. Their milk primarily goes into Organic Valley products, with the remaining milk going to Stonyfield Farm yogurts. Knowing that my patronage of Organic Valley & Stonyfield Farm supports dairy farmers committed to pasturing their cows and raising them right, like Pat & Kristin makes me proud to support these companies!
The abundance of non-food producers who had tables at the festival was great! The Boston Natural Areas Network, Boston Public Market, Chef's Collaborative, Heifer International, Lovin Spoonfuls Food Rescue, The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, and Slow Food Boston were just some of the great organizations and groups who worked hard to put out information and engage with all the attendees. One organization that was doing a great job engaging with children and encouraging healthy eating choices was the Boston Collaborative For Food & Fitness:
The BCFF had a wheel of 'fruit and vegetables' with trivia questions to engage children while promoting healthy eating. The person who ran the booth (pictured above) did a good job of engaging kids and adults alike.
There were demonstrations and cooking exhibitions throughout the afternoon:
(butchering demonstration)
(pickling demonstration)

Of course a major highlight was all the great food and food producers at the festival. Some of the highlights that stood out in my head: Summer favorite Batch was on hand vending their delightful salted caramel ice cream. Dough Raise Me was on hand vending some of the best chocolate cookies i've ever had (don't tell my girlfriend!!). Local pickle impresario Grillo's Pickles a long standing favorite of my girlfriend and I had a crowd at their table for nearly the entire afternoon. 2 cheese producers I had never heard of Shy Brothers Farm & Narragansett Creamery were stiff competition for Cabot Cheese & City Feed's fine selection of cheese samples.
Burnin' Love sauces won me over with their awesome 1919 Molasses BBQ sauce and sweet & spicy Heartbreak sauce, which I took a jar home to kick up some future stir fry's. Another happy purchase was made from the local artists at Taza Chocolate: A bag of their addictive Chocolate Covered Nibs and a package of Salt & Pepper Chocolate Mexicano.
There were also more then 20 local restaurants dishing out a variety of food for lunch in case people didn't fill up on samples and other tasty treats from all the farms and food producers. I had a delicious grass fed beef burger from FOUR burgers while Gail had indian from Mela. Longest food line was definitely for rib & pork slingers M & M BBQ. If that wasn't enough there was local pizza, grilled cheese, high end franks and fries, pressed sandwiches from Vermont Smoke and Cure (whose bacon I took home), and loads more to offer.
All in all the first ever Boston Local Food Festival was a really great event full of wonderful food and food producers which brought out thousands to support a variety of local business. I sincerely hope the local food festival becomes a regular event, as it was wonderful to see all the local producers.
One final note, the volunteers of the Boston Local Food Festival were great, contacting vendors to appear at the festival, helping set up the event, loading in the vendors, helping with the zero waste coordination, keeping everyone safe and smiling despite massive crowds in a small area, and staying late to help clean up! It's volunteers like Steve (pictured below) who made the event a smashing success and they really deserve all the festival attendees and participants gratitude!
(Volunteer like Steve deserve the credit for such a great event)

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