Monthly Archives: February 2011

Learning from teens at the Food and Justice Summit

beet salad

Two salads: one kale, one beet. Photo: Jaime Lutz

When I was a teenager, I usually didn’t care what I was eating. I ate wildly, decadently unseasonal: Chilean strawberries in January, grilled and salted zucchini in March. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about slow food or healthy eating or the environment – I simply didn’t know about any of the issues caught up in the production of food.

Bless, then, those bright, health-conscious, Pollan-reading high schoolers that were all over the Northeast Food and Justice Summit at Northeastern University over the weekend. Sponsored by Real Food Challenge, The Food Project and Boston Latin School’s Youth CAN, the summit connected student groups, activist organizations and leaders in the slow food movement from all over the Northeast (the Food Project previously held conferences in other corners of the country).

There was an even mix of high school and college students – in total, conference organizer Anim Steel said that over 600 people registered or volunteered to attend. At the conference’s center were an abundance of workshops, usually led by people both younger and more dazzlingly brilliant than I am – I never thought I’d finally learn how to chiffonade greens from someone who is, probably, learning the quadratic formula as I type this. (After the jump – more from the conference and a seasonal beet salad recipe!) Continue reading

Plink, Plink, Plink

Natick Community Organic Farm (NCOF) started tapping yesterday. Catch those first melodic notes here:

And the farm is boasting two new kids (well, rather, their goat Tilly is, but you know what I mean)–another reason to visit.

Not all farms producing maple syrup are members of the Mass Maple Producer’s Association and therefore listed in its directory (NCOF would be one such example). Check the websites of farms in your area to learn if they’re tapping!


PRK visited NCOF in November. Read about it here.

PRK is covering the Northeast Food and Justice Summit

Young food activists are working to end processed dinners (photo: Clean Wal-Mart/Flickr)

Think kids today are lazy bums whose only form of activism is changing their Facebook status?

Check this out: the 2011 Northeast Food and Justice Summit, attracting over 600 high school and college-aged students to Boston this weekend for workshops on food justice, activism and nutrition for all. Conference organizers say the event will be the largest of its kind ever. We’re intrigued, to say the least.

I’m attending the conference on Saturday to let readers know what the next generation of foodies are up to. I’ll be tweeting all day, so be sure to check out the PRK Twitter account for tips, ideas and motivation from speakers and activists.

Any questions on how you can start your own food activism project? Tweet @pubradiokitchen and I’ll try to get your questions answered!

Spotlight: A Thought for Food

Photo: Courtesy of Brian Samuels

It’s hard to say which keeps me coming back to Brian Samuels’ blog A Thought for Food: the food, or the photos? It’s a legitimate question to ask, as Brian’s passion for both are apparent in every post.

A Thought for Food began in 2009 as a way for Brian to share his favorite recipes with family and friends and to communicate his love of food and the role it plays in his life. In turn, by putting his musings out in the open, Brian wanted to generate a discussion amongst his readers on the impact of food on them as well.

But the site has evolved considerably since its earliest days. Brian now has a readership that extends beyond his inner circle and a new project. Continue reading

An Epic Day

Photos: Courtesy of Powisset Farm

Meryl never ceases to amaze. Read below what “potting soil day” entails for her.


Meryl LaTronica
Farm Manager, Powisset Farm
PRK Guest Contributor

There is a special day that comes once a year for me. A day that, like a jack-in-a-box, even when I know it’s coming, always takes me by surprise. A day that holds both the incredible excitement of opening a birthday package from your best friend who lives miles away and the nervousness of meeting someone for a first date; hoping it will all go OK. I know that’s a lot of emotion to put onto potting soil, but potting soil day is always epic, hopeful and one of the markers for me that the new season is upon us!

The potting soil arrives at the farm on an 18-wheeler. The truck somehow maneuvers its way into the small section of farm driveway that is free from snow, in between two snow banks much taller than I. The wheels spin as it squeezes off the curvy country (ish) road that our farm is located on, and I imagine the truck toppling over with 20 pallets of soil spilling onto the street. I push that thought from my mind and let the truck driver manage gracefully.

Once on the icy farm parking lot, he opens the back gate in one swift move and the grinding sound of the door sliding up let’s me know it’s time. I hop on our largest tractor, fitted on the bucket with its misshapen forks, ready to try to lift the immense bags of soil. Continue reading

Thursday Tidbits: Maple Month

Photo: Flickr/bruce_bruce948


Maple Month
Woo-hoo! It’s tapping season! The Massachusetts Maple Producer’s Association will be kicking off ‘Maple Month’ March 4 in Northampton. Visit four sugarhouses with the new Maple ‘Passport’ for a chance to win Massachusetts maple syrup. Or check out their website to find the sugar shacks closest to you. Support this utterly New England and delicious food bounty!

New Brew, Contest
Sam Adams is announcing a new brew this month, the “Wee Heavy” Scotch Ale, an addition to the brewery’s Imperial Series. If that doesn’t quite wet your whistle, brew your own and enter Sam’s Longshot Homebrew contest, beginning next month. You’ll get nationally distributed! All the deets you need can be found on the company’s website.

Chefs Cook for Mom
In this instance it’s Jodie Gilson, mom to Will Gilson, Chef/Owner of Garden at the Cellar, and wholesale grower of herbs and perennials. Jodie lost her greenhouses and her livelihood (J. Gilson Greenhouses) two weeks ago to the weight of the snow. On March 5th, local chefs will gather together to create a pop-up restaurant featuring their moms’ favorite dishes that evening, only, at the Boston Center for Adult Education. It’s Mother’s Day in March! All proceeds will raise funds for Gilson’s rebuild. Continue reading

On the morality of food

Photo: kimberlykv/Flickr

Here’s a provocative thought: the blog you’re reading now is a hotbed of sin. This sin is so evil, so pernicious and so destructive, in fact, that it’s able to pass by undetected.

What is this basic, biblical-like evil? Foodie-ism.

Sound laughable? Animal rights activist B. R. Myers made the case in the March issue of The Atlantic:

The book Gluttony (2003), one of a series on the seven deadly sins, was naturally assigned to a foodie writer, namely Francine Prose, who writes for the gourmet magazine Saveur. Not surprisingly, she regards gluttony primarily as a problem of overeating to the point of obesity; it is “the only sin … whose effects are visible, written on the body.” In fact the Catholic Church’s criticism has always been directed against an inordinate preoccupation with food—against foodie-ism, in other words—which we encounter as often among thin people as among fat ones.

In Myers’ biting, perhaps flawed case against foodies, he paints us as sinners against moderation, making false idols out of chefs (“The Roman Historian Livy famously regarded the glorification of chefs as the sign of a culture in decline,” he claims) and turning the simple, humble act of eating into its own phony religion.

Rancher Nicolette Hahn Niman struck back against Myers’ manifesto, arguing that foodies today care more about moderation and sustainability than voracious overeating. But something about Myers’ account sticks with me. I can’t help but wonder about gluttony, that “inordinate preoccupation with food.” I am small and thin – or at least a healthy weight. I eat small portions. But I may be a glutton yet. Continue reading

Breakfast in the Berkshires

Photo: Courtesy of Berkshire Food Journal


I can’t remember the last time I’ve said that word, let alone written it. But it fits.

Here is a list of 75–75!–breakfast spots in the Berkshires straight from Berkshire Food Journal. What I love about this article is not simply the tantalizing sound of pancakes and maple syrup (a childhood thing, I’ve written about it before), but also the fact that Judith Lerner’s list is a-seasonal. You can visit any one of these places any season.

So, bookmark the page. You may be skiing and snow-shoeing now, but Tanglewood is just around the corner.

Heating up the Kitchen with Sriracha


Fire-Roasted Corn Chowder. Photo courtesy of Ten Speed Press.

Just when it felt like the dull throb of winter was melting into spring, we have another sub-freezing day on our hands. At this time of year, we have to look for heat wherever we can get it – especially on our food. Luckily, we have Sriracha – that garlicy, ketchupy bottle of hot sauce that’s so versatile, one man devoted an entire cookbook to it.

Meet Randy Clemens: a man in love with a condiment. Obsessed with Sriracha after one fateful meal, he began using it in everything – buffalo wings, cornbread, even dessert. He compiled his favorite dishes – from the standard (fried rice) to the intriguingly odd (peach-Sriracha sorbet) in The Sriracha Cookbook: 50 “Rooster Sauce” Recipes That Pack a Punch.

We talked to Clemens about the sauce’s long trip from the Far East to our dinner tables – we even managed to nab a Sriracha recipe for corn chowdah!

PRK: The first thing I have to know is: how do you pronounce Sriracha, anyway?

RC: There’s a lot of interpretations of it, but Sear-rawh-chuh is the most common. It’s not 100 percent – like, if you were in Thailand, it’s incorrect – but in America, that’s just how it goes.

PRK: What drew you to profile this particular sauce?

RC: I initially had some about twelve years ago at a friend’s house – a Vietnamese friend of mine – and I had become a fan of his mom’s cooking pretty quickly. And I stayed over one night and woke up in the morning to find a big giant pot of fried rice that she made. And just sitting next to it was a bottle of Sriracha, and I had never had it, never seen it, never heard of it.

And I just gave it a try and fell in love with it. I got my own bottle pretty quickly and started using it on top of different foods, not just Asian food but any food I might have and after that I had the idea of maybe cooking with it. So, I started simple, with nothing revolutionary, just maybe an Asian stir fry that I stirred Sriracha into while I was cooking it. And then one day I just wanted to make Buffalo wings and I had the idea, what if I substituted Sriracha in place of French’s Red Hot? And it was just fantastic – I really, really liked it. Continue reading

Fish versus Fishermen?

Photo: Alex E. Proimos/Flickr

Numerous times on this site have you readers seen articles related to one of the most controversial food issues out there: seafood sustainability. In short, what to eat from our surrounding waters, and what not.

Today, we’re offering for your consideration a review published in Stuff of the recent “blacklist dinner” co-sponsored by Legal Seafoods’ Roger Berkowitz and the Culinary Guild of New England.

Louisa Kasdon, food writer and author of the article, condenses the evening’s agenda and the (new) issues it raised. To her mind, it’s a local, health-of-our-small-business-owners challenge — those small biz owners being, of course, independent fishermen. And there’s grave disagreement over whose numbers are correct as they concern the fish. The ensuing tensions are pitting the fishermen, backed by MA legislators and Gov. Deval Patrick, against the federal government and environmental NGOs.

Did you attend the blacklist dinner? What did you think of the discussion that evening? Are we headed towards more fish, “just not to eat”?


Some more reading about sustainable seafood on PRK:
The Pescavore’s Dilemma
Who wants Sustainable Seafood?
As The Oil Spreads
Celebrating Seafood

The Seafood Blacklist