Boston hosts local food festival


by Meaghan Dowd, news correspondent and Liam Hofmeister, inside editor

Children ran around the festival grounds with broccoli tattooed on their arms as the locavores of New England conversed about their sustainable farms.

On Sunday at the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the sixth annual Boston Local Food Festival (BLFF) united the local growers of New England to share in a day of environmental sustainability and healthy cuisine.

Presented by the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN), the BLFF offers a venue for farmers, businesses and citizens to meet and discuss the need for local food in urban communities. The festival is annually one of the largest national food hubs with this year’s attendance numbers totaling almost 50,000 people, according to an SBN press release.

“There is a cultural shift happening with the change in public imagination,” Tom Kelly, University of New Hampshire Sustainable Institute director and SBN research affiliate, said. “In regards to the [innovation, we’re] looking forward to 50 percent of food being produced by New England.”

Festival attendees got a taste of several restaurants putting forward a locally grown platform and offering health-conscious cuisines. The line for Mela, a modern Indian cuisine booth, was ever-growing as people ordered chicken tikka masala and mango lassi. Other crowded booths included the R&S Jamaican Restaurant, Recreo Coffee & Roasterie and Cupcake City.

“We never knew about this restaurant called ‘Koy’ which seemed pretty cool,” Shannon Pires, a Northeastern University freshman music industry major. “We learned about a lot of cool restaurants and can’t wait to try them out.”

The festival’s foot-in-the-door approach brings restaurants that use local goods new business, allowing them to sustain their models of self-reliant food practice.

More than 50 food vendors were in attendance, some selling meals for $6 or less. Over 100 booths were selling locally-produced foods to be brought home and prepared.

In addition to food vendors, the festival showcased multiple cooking demonstrations by the professional chefs of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, a seafood cooking throwdown and Bollywood and swing dancing. Each part of the greenway had a theme that catered to a unique event.

The seafood throwdown was the main focus of the fish stock area. Two chefs competed to prepare the best dish from a mystery fish and ingredients sold at the festival. After the heated cook-off, there was a fillet demo that showed how to prepare healthy fish, falling in line with the theme of self-reliability in food.

Sustainable farms such as Backyard Farms, Cape Cod Select, Chestnut Farms and Westminster Meats were in attendance. Exhibitors included Boston Food Forest, Harvest Coop and Eat More Kale.

This festival was a day focused on trying and learning new things.

“I saw a lot of locally grown food and companies that I didn’t really know well,” Aubrey Kenderdine, a sophomore biology and political science major, said. “There was this one table that was different flavors of honey. I didn’t even know that was a thing.”

Nearly all waste from the festival was offset. 91 percent of physical waste was recycled or composted, and the festival was 100 percent powered by renewable energy. according to a press release by SBN.

The SBN organized the gathering with a goal to promote “Healthy Local Food for All.” This directly ties to the goal of “50 by 60,” a New England food movement which aims to have 50 percent of all food consumed be locally grown by 2060.

“A lot of the tables [at the festival] focused on sustainability,” Kenderdine said. “ It was a really good conversation around sustainability and green farming and supporting local business all around.”

Photos by Scotty Schenck