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My family and I raise meat for sale in Massachusetts, and our customers are increasingly asking us for our thoughts about Massachusetts Ballot question 3. A yes vote would prohibit any confinement of pigs, calves, and hens that prevent them from lying down, standing up, fully extending their limbs, or turning around freely. If passed, the new law will take effect January 1, 2022.
We fully support the passage of this law, and we thought it would be useful to tell voters why and to share what we think the longer-term consequences of a law like this might be.
For lazy gardeners—or for anyone who wants to grow some of their own food but has no time—perennial vegetables are the answer: you plant only once and reap the harvest year after year. Rhubarb, collards, kale, and radicchio can all be grown as perennials in this climate, but asparagus stands head and shoulders above its peers. Not only is it a delicious, versatile, nutritious, and downright classy vegetable, but once the harvest is done, a bed of it produces a lovely screen of tall, airy ferns.
Reading Adam Centamore’s Tasting Wine and Cheese is akin to taking a course in the art of pairing. It’s no wonder; Centamore teaches sold-out interactive pairing workshops near and far. He knows his wine and cheese!
Every hard-core locavore maintains a private list of foods that will simply never be locally-produced, but without which life is not worth living. Which exotics are deemed indispensible varies by palate; citrus, olive oil, bananas, and rice are a few from my roster. We rationalize by buying fairly traded and organic versions of luxurious essentials. We support local companies trading in them. We tell ourselves that the world would not be a better place if we gave up morning coffee. Continue reading
On March 24th, foodies and locavores alike will gather at Lombardo’s in Randolph for the 20th annual Taste of the South Shore fundraiser. More than two dozen area restaurants, caterers, bakeries, wineries, and breweries will fill the bellies of attendees—all in an effort to help under-served families on the South Shore. One hundred percent of the money raised goes to scholarships and financial aid for camps affiliated with the South Shore YMCA.
Spiced Smothered Cabbage Recipe
An Indian friend went into ecstasies upon tasting this dish
Buttery Cabbage Lasagna Recipe
Like an exploded wonton, if wontons were ever this good.
Happy St. Patricks Day!
Readers of edible South Shore & South Coast who reside in the suburban sector jocularly known as the ‘Irish Riviera’ will find this hard to believe: I grew up here without knowing a single person who advertised Irish ancestry. That’s right. After a thorough rummaging of the (admittedly meandering and poorly-insulated) halls of my memory, I am forced to conclude that the familiar tropes of Irish-American culture were entirely absent from my Rehoboth upbringing. While I was well acquainted with people whose surnames I now know to be Irish (Foley, Fleming, Roarke, O’Connell) I don’t remember hanging around with kids who self-identified as Irish-American until I was in college, where it seemed half my friends’ parents had emigrated from Ireland; the other half were Jewish, from NYC.
Based on a scientific survey of those aforementioned drafty memory vaults of mine, I’d say the ethnic core of my hometown, back in the seventies, was a composition of Portuguese, Yankees, and Italians (a distant third), orbited by a smattering of us outlying ‘others’. So my youthful exposure to Saint Patrick’s Day, including its de rigueur culinary components, was limited. Some years Mom actually tried making the standard-issue boiled dinner, but the metallic-tasting unfamiliarly-colored corned beef and the way-beyond-al-dente vegetables were so unlike her usual Julia Child-inflected cuisine that the meal may as well have been delivered to our table via space probe. Mom’s efforts were all the more valiant considering her upbringing. Her father was not shy about exhibiting the reflexive hatred borne by his immigrant forbears for the “maudite Irlandais”…(damned Irish).
Questioned about this today, my parents, who were at the time generally slippery about translating our Grandpapa’s outbursts, rationalize that linguistically challenged immigrants from many lands resented the seemingly easy entry into American employment that had, to all appearances, been granted to the English-speaking Irish. But my grandfather was born in Rhode Island, into a respectable, professional-class Franco-American family who all spoke perfect, educated English, so I’m unclear as to the direct source of his beef. A reliable crank, he may have just been gratuitously delighted to perpetuate the views of French-Canadian laborers of earlier generations. (I remember that he was a bit taken aback by the ethnic mix of my college friends, but surprised me in turn by trying to engage some of them on topics like the writings of Spinoza and the culture of ancient Phoenicians. An interesting, infuriating, guy.)
All this is to say that Saint Patrick’s Day was not a red-letter day in the calendar of my youth. As a result of this childhood vacuum, this non-exposure, I had no memorable personal experience of the material known as Irish Soda Bread until I was around twenty. And I realize now what a stroke of luck it was to start right at the top, with the stellar recipe massaged into being by the Irish mother of my college friend Siobhan O’Duffy.
In her effort to recreate the flavor and texture of the Brown Bread of home for her family here in America, Mrs. O’Duffy had been compelled to winnow methodically and critically through packaged ingredients available in Minnesota grocery stores in the 1960s. Where most bakers ‘improved’ and Americanized Irish bread into a sweet, stark-white, puffy tea cake of a thing, Mrs. O’Duffy looked deep into its heart and saw the stone-ground whole grains as the crucial ingredients. Her brilliant, adaptive, solution: coarse-textured Ralston hot cereal and thick-rolled oats. The resulting bread was toothsome and gristy, with an honest level of tasty sweetness. I was lucky enough to scribble down her recipe.
Now Ralston Cereal has disappeared from supermarket shelves, and Siobhan’s mom has passed on, I hear, but I’m left with the taste-memory of that truly wonderful bread. In the spirit of Mrs. O’Duffy, I offer you a darn good version of the recipe using the ordinary whole-wheat flour found in baking aisles today. But you can, if so motivated, adapt this recipe to be even better. In fact, the general uplift in the quality of ingredients available to American cooks makes it possible to get closer to Mrs. O’Duffy’s childhood bread. Many grocery stores now carry an array of far more esoteric products than those I suggest. And for those of you who enjoy foraging as you travel, or scouring the internet, the real score would be getting flour freshly milled from locally-grown grain: something completely possible in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Quebec, and even parts of Massachusetts—a bit of a challenge, but well worth the trouble for a proper celebration.
by Paula Marcoux
In a pinch the other night, I picked up a jar of organic pasta sauce from Shaw’s (their new O Organics brand) – and I, the loudest advocate for ‘local’ in the room, did not read the label. Only the next day, as I was peeling the label to save the jar, did I see that it was made in China. I was horrified. We are seeing more and more organic food products from China in our grocery stores, (don’t get duped by distributor addresses on labels, you’ll have to hunt to find the original source of the product, but it should be on there). We’ve all had to become chemical, agricultural, and labelling experts just to buy groceries these days, who do we trust? We are going to map out the process for you, so to speak, in order of preference for anything not grown in the U.S.:
- Countries that have the same standards and similar process as ours, where the organic label is interchangeable – only Canada. Certified organic produce grown in the US may be sold in Canada under that label, and vice versa. We are in discussions with the EU to develop the same equivalence for the purpose of trade but we are not there yet.
- Countries that have trade agreements and National Organic Program accredited agents, who are able to certify producers according to the US standards provided by the NOP/USDA – European Union, India, Israel, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, Switzerland
- Rest of World – we have no direct USDA organic trade agreements anywhere else for product certification, and no other accreditations (that I can find information on) that link or tie countries or organizations directly to the NOP or USDA under the organic label.
So what about that pasta sauce from China? Well, there is still a process which can be followed, but it’s complicated, so bear with me. The retailer or distributor responsible for bringing the food into the country (let’s say Shaw’s) appoints a U.S. based and USDA/NOP accredited certifying agent (let’s say Quality Assurance International or QAI). This accredited agent can certify growers, distributors or manufacturers under the ‘certified organic’ label, but they can also conduct an assessment of a foreign certifying agent (let’s say Beijing Organics) based in the source country (China) to ensure that their certifying/record keeping processes are in accordance with the USDA standards and requirements. China Organics can then go ahead and certify producers in China for products destined for kitchen tables in the U.S.
Why do it that way? Why don’t QAI just certify the growers themselves? Well, they may not have offices in the source country making it challenging to keep tabs on the farm/processing plant regularly and conduct required periodic inspections. If it were a handful of sites, it still wouldn’t be economically viable to set up offices and pay trained staff. Language could be a barrier too. This way, Beijing Organics can do the legwork, and QAI can fly in for annual and extensive audits of all records, and perhaps some on-site visits and inspections. It is a question of practical economics, you see?
So now, as a consumer, you can consider the practicalities of the system too, even if we put any doubts or fears about the certification process aside because grocery store chains will uphold the ethics of the label on behalf of their consumers, right? The certification itself will not answer all our questions. –How long has the product has been in storage? –What is its’ carbon footprint? –Were the tomatoes grown on a small scale family farm, or a large scale industrial one? –Were they grown in China, or were they imported from somewhere else? If they were imported from somewhere else, are those records also audited by the same firm? –What about the environmental impact of the farm in that country – was virgin land cleared? –Where is their water coming from? –How are farm workers being treated?
Doesn’t this process feel like we’re playing broken telephone? The USDA/NOP sets the standards, hands them over to an accredited certifying agent, who hands them off to a foreign certifying agent, who hands them to a farmer on foreign soil – it doesn’t invoke confidence, does it? And it’s PASTA sauce! We grow tomatoes and can make it here – so why don’t we?
We used China as the example, but it could be frozen carrots from Russia, canned peaches from Argentina or marmalade from South Africa. I would like to think that no U.S. based accredited certifying agent like QAI is going to risk its license and entire business operation on a questionable foreign certifying agent, but I think the best peace of mind you can hope to find will be in sourcing your food as close to home as possible. Let’s keep it simple, grocery shopping should not be this complicated.
By Pamela Denholm
Re-posted from South Shore Organics with her permission.
Interested in an entertaining distraction from the winter doldrums? Buoy the Winter Blues may be just what you need to set you sailing toward spring. Brainchild of Gay Gillespie, a longtime supporter of Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA), Buoy the Winter Blues has become a much anticipated annual event and an important fundraiser for the organization. Invited artists are supplied with a cedar lobster buoy, handcrafted by Maine Wooden Buoys. Each becomes a canvas, and artists are encouraged to create innovative and decorative final products which become part of a silent auction. In past years, buoys have varied in design from clever to whimsical—and have been painted, forged, and even bedazzled!
The auction is now in its’ third year, and the number of local participating artists has increased annually with over sixty entries expected this year! Artists, both professionals and dabblers, donate their time to decorate the buoys, their generosity allows 100% of the auction’s proceeds to be utilized by the WRWA. According to Community Engagement Manager, Steve Connors, the auction supports the Watershed’s education and science initiatives—including a program in the Westport Schools, which serves more than 2,000 students in grades K-12.
The decorated buoys will be on display at the Dedee Shattuck Gallery beginning Saturday, February 27. The event is open to the public who are encouraged to view the display at the Gallery or online at www.westportwatershed.org. All are invited to bid on a favorite buoy (or buoys) during the silent auction that will take place on Saturday, March 5. A celebratory reception will follow. With more than 300 in attendance at last year’s reception, the event has become a respite for many winter-weary residents on the South Coast!
The Westport River Watershed Alliance, founded in 1976, has grown from 15 concerned individuals to an impressive 2,000 members. The Watershed encompasses 100 square miles and includes the communities of Westport, Tiverton, Little Compton, Fall River, Freetown, and Dartmouth. WRWA is an established leader in the grassroots environmental movement and is considered a role model for many communities.
Westport River Watershed Alliance
1151 Main Road
PO Box 3427
Westport, MA 02090
Dedee Shattuck Gallery
1 Partners’ Lane
Westport, MA 02090
Elle Maynard is a life long New Englander and current resident of the South Shore, Elle is always on the lookout for creative ways to keep winter-weariness at bay.
Shared from edible South Shore & South Coast