Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tales of local food, blueberry soda, and tofu

By the time I arrived at the Boston Local Food Festival (held next to the Boston Children's Museum on October 2) it was in full swing, and frankly, quite crowded. I took this as a positive. The local, slow food movement is far from fringe now; it is front and center and taking off.
There were dozens of entrepreneurs at the festival, showcasing all manner of local, organic, and artisanal foods. Local chefs gave demonstrations, including the carving of a whole roasted pig (but I did not want to see this--I just heard it was spectacular!) We sampled cinnamon-chocolate chip ice cream, purchased fresh produce from a community garden in Roxbury and fresh mozzarella from the Narragansett Creamery (RI), and drank the best root beer in the world from Maine Root, who also make a mean and surprisingly delicious blueberry soda. Other vendors sold vegan cookies and pastry, seaweed salsa, locally-caught seafood and organic pizza.
The place smelled heavenly, and it was a glorious breezy sunny fall day, with live music and dancing babies and people looking pretty happy. Of course, food tends to make most of us pretty happy.
To my great delight, the festival also featured dozens of nonprofit organizations that work to promote everything from the banning of bottled water, to zero-waste events, to helping neighborhoods launch their own community gardens. I got a fantastic agricultural map of Massachusetts, that identifies every farm in the state and what it produces. I met an urban gardening advocate who teaches Boston residents how get a vegetable garden growing, no matter how small their outdoor spaces might be (they use paint buckets if that's what it takes!).
I met the folks at Green City Growers, who will come to your house and build your organic garden and get it growing for you, for a fee. I came away inspired and also newly armed the with information I need to propose that school garden to my PTO. That will be happening this week. I'll post the outcome as soon as I can.

Later this week, A Teachable Feast will hold its third food workshop, "Taking the Eeew Out of Tofu", taught by personal chef Lester Esser. We have a small but enthusiastic group of students who are curious about the best ways to prepare this enigmatic curd. We had an interesting thing happen while enrolling folks for this class. A person dropped out, saying her health-conscious neighbor told her that tofu "is not good for you anymore."

I was surprised by this comment, and looked it up. Sure enough, tofu has come under fire in recent years, with some people denouncing it for causing deforestation as rainforests were cleared to plant more soy farms. Others say it messes with your digestion in large quantities. But there are plenty of soy defenders who say it is still a healthy source of protein-- especially if you are a vegan and don't have other traditional options. Lester and I both feel that moderation with any food is the key to health and happiness. You wouldn't expect to eat cheesecake every day, but I bet you would still take a cheesecake-making class. You wouldn't eat a whole loaf of bread every day, but still you might be glad to take our breadmaking workshop. Moderation, people, is the sweet spot of life.

Happy eating,
Margie

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