It’s a chorus we sing often at Edible Boston. On our social media platforms— using #EatLocalMA—and in our own homes, we try to put at least one locally produced food into every dish we cook.
From June through October that task is an easy one: Making a meal of protein, vegetables and grains entirely grown and raised in New England is pretty simple in the height of the season. With CSA pickup shares, SNAP benefits and Bounty Bucks at urban farmers markets, and even gleaning programs that donate excess farm produce to soup kitchens and food pantries, for five months of the year it’s possible to consistently “Eat Local” in Massachusetts if it’s important to you and you put your mind to it.
As a regular reader of this magazine, you know this by now. I’m preaching to the choir. You already source your food from local farms or farmers markets all summer long and well into the autumn. You’ve even harvested a garden of your own or plucked homegrown tomatoes and herbs from patio pots because you know local always tastes better, and you frequent restaurants that follow this same philosophy. But it doesn’t have to end there.
Back in early November, when we woke up to discover the world had changed overnight, there were still farmers in Massachusetts pulling vegetables from the ground to store away in root cellars. Dairy farmers milked and cheesemakers took their cream to form wheels destined for aging caves. Meat farmers harvested their animals, butchering them for the freezer, all in preparation for the long cold season ahead. Life goes on, and so must we, so support the hard work of these food artisans and seek out their products, challenging yourself to #EatLocalMA even in the dead of winter. Check our website for a list of winter farmers markets near you, try our recipes for in-season vegetables and fish and read Diana Rodgers’ informative article (page 36) for tips on cooking with local meat. Throughout this season of giving, why not stretch the #EatLocalMA mantra to mean #DrinkLocalMA and #BuyLocalMA? Pledge to support your local community for your holiday festivities and gift buying, too; spending your dollars locally helps boost small businesses in these uncertain times.
We don’t know what the coming years will bring. From climate change to economic inequality to healthcare and global trade, nationwide food insecurity could be the end result of any sustained government inaction. But I’m hopeful that here in our area—with help from ongoing initiatives like Food Solutions New England (foodsolutionsne.org)—we’ll face these challenges head on to create a regional food system that benefits us all well into the future.
Do your part and take these waning days of 2016 to figure out what you and your family can do to make a difference. Every little bit helps, and we know you have great ideas. Starting in January, use our favorite hashtag, #EatLocalMA, to tell the Edible Boston community what excites and intrigues you about local food, and what you’re doing to ensure our regional food system thrives. Original recipes, agritourism getaways, cocktails made with local spirits, Instagram shots of funny-looking radishes—anything goes. Let’s join hands in our common cause.
And from all of us at Edible Boston, have a happy and healthy holiday season.