Since we Civil Eats started six years ago, we have cast our net wide to report on local food stories about individuals and communities working together to create a more vibrant, resilient, and just food system. There is so much good news about innovative projects happening nationwide: From Alaska to Hawaii, we’ve been documenting the unfolding of what local food likes like on the ground. In this month’s note, I wanted to share some of our inspiring stories showing how local food systems are connecting producers to consumers, boosting local economies, and building community.
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The new public market opening this summer in Boston will never sell a banana or an avocado. In the winter and spring, when there are fewer vegetables in the fields, there will be fewer vegetables in the market’s stalls. And if local fishermen can’t catch it, it won’t be on offer.
Teacher Kinga Kelly extolled the virtues of eating colorful foods–like bright red strawberries and deep purple blueberries–to the group. “What is the benefit of eating the rainbow?” she called out. “We get nutrients,” they called back. “Iron! Vitamin C for your immune system! Vitamin E for your skin! Vitamin A! Vitamin D for your bones!” Meanwhile, the thud of dribbled basketballs echoed from a gymnasium down the hall. Read more
Quietly, Vermont has become a cultural, economic, and political force. Its public education system is consistently among the nation’s best. Vermonters weathered the Great Recession better than their counterparts in other states; the state’s unemployment rate is currently around 4 percent and dropping. Then there’s the catch-all distinction of being one of the top places in the country to live for overall quality of life.
Add local food to that list. Read more
As a pastry chef with 20 years of experience under her belt, Emily Luchetti was tired of being asked why she’s not overweight. As the Chief Pastry Officer at Big Night Restaurant Group in San Francisco and Board Chairman of the James Beard Foundation, she has been perfecting the art of making pastries with fresh, seasonal ingredients. But that doesn’t mean she thinks dessert should be eaten every day. Through her work, Luchetti says, “I’ve learned how to put it all into perspective—how to deal with having sugar around me all the time and still lead a healthy life.” Read more
It was evening at Coachella, the massive music and cultural festival that just wrapped up outside of Palm Springs, and people were heading to the food tents. But instead of waiting in line for something fried to munch on, about 200 festival goers attended a sit-down, white tableclothed feast of organic food and biodynamic wine.
In the past four years, school meals in Detroit have been transformed. Gone are the chicken nuggets and sugary drinks. Now school cafeterias serve fresh fruit and mixed baby green salads, lean meat, low-fat milk, and whole grain breads. Better yet, some even serve produce from school gardens and local farmers. Read more
Can a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription service help more small farms survive in today’s consolidated food landscape? In 2014, economic researcher Mark Paul conducted in-person interviews with 16 Massachusetts farmers for Ecotrust and E3 Network’s Future Economy Initiative. The area where Paul did the research, called the Pioneer Valley, was home to one of the first two CSA businesses in the United States, founded in 1986. Now, it’s the epicenter for a new wave of CSA activity and can shed valuable light on the industry as a whole. Read more
When you order a burger in a restaurant, chances are it’s comprised of several grades of ground beef that come from more than one animal raised in completely different locations.
And while more businesses are building brands around the fact that they serve local, pasture-raised, and grassfed burgers, it’s much less common to eat in a restaurant run by a family that raises its own cows. Read more
When Mariko Grady joined La Cocina’s incubator kitchen three years ago, the thought of owning her own business was little more than a dream. Following the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster that devastated Japan in 2011, she had started selling her homemade misos and kojis to friends to raise money to donate to victims in her home country.