Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day 2017

This Saturday more than seven hundred events will take place all over the globe with one common purpose – to celebrate raw milk cheeses! From France to New Zealand, Boston to Los Angeles, thousands of curd lovers will mark April 22nd as the third annual Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day.

Created by Oldways Cheese Coalition right here in Boston this day is meant not only to commemorate these tasty cheeses but also to educate people on the benefits of enjoying raw milk products. As Carlos Yescas, program director for Oldways Cheese Coalition, puts it, “Our aim is to educate consumers about two things. First, raw milk cheeses are delicious. Second, these cheeses are slowly disappearing.”

Yep. It may be hard to believe but raw milk cheeses are slowly diminishing in numbers, both in the United States and Europe. How can that be? Most Americans have always suspected the FDA was a bit prissy when it came to raw milk products, but the Europeans? They are the bastions of tradition, aren’t they? The thought of Parmigiano Reggiano or Le Gruyère made with pasteurized milk makes one shudder…

The reality is most regulations still allow for the use of raw milk, but many larger companies eschew the practice out of concern for safety. Larger, commercial cheese producers often use lower-grade milk and voluntarily pasteurize it to eliminate any issue that might arise from poor cheese making practices. Unfortunately, once that happens it is difficult to return to using raw milk because of the expense and strict controls and guidelines that must be reinstated.

Locally, dairy farms and cheese makers are keeping the faith alive as well. Nancy Lawton, owner of Lawton’s Family Farm in Foxboro, is a huge proponent of raw milk traditions. With twenty-five cows of milking age and raw milk retailing licensing since 1985 their slogan sums it up nicely, “Milk with a Difference”. When asked why the availability of raw milk to the public is important Nancy feels “people should have access to fresh, unadulterated food of all kinds.” Their Foxboro Cheese Company offers a raw milk Asiago, and the farm sells raw milk as well.

We are fortunate to have organizations like Lawton’s Family Farm and Oldways Cheese Coalition in our own backyard. Their tireless effort to bring attention to the benefits of raw milk cheeses, and all raw milk dairy products, is having a very real effect. Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day is a way to bring everyone together to celebrate, if only for a day. As Carlos says, “We all love raw milk cheeses and don’t want to see it go. If you cherish your gastronomic culture, buy some raw milk cheese and join in the celebration.”

I’m in!

By: Adam Centamore, a Boston-based wine & cheese educator, writer and award-nominated author who loves to .

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THE DISH ON MEAL KIT COMPANIES: FARMERS

From our friends at South Shore Organics

With all the ‘farm goodness’ on marketing materials, we asked if meal kit companies deliver on their ‘small farm’ promise, the results were not that surprising:

Menu’s Are Not Regional, or That Local

Large meal kit companies are sourcing and shipping raw ingredients nationally and internationally, and distributing the end product all across the USA. “There’s less carbon emitted to aggregate meat on a shipping container on a boat from New Zealand than if we were driving it from Nebraska to Chicago,” says Matthew Wadiak about grass-fed beef, Matthew is Blue Apron’s 38-year-old chief operating officer and one of its three co-founders.

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River Herring: Past, Present, Future

It’s one of those raw days you get along the New England coast in April. A light rain and gusty winds are making the weather seem much worse than suggested by the 50 degrees on the thermometer. Despite the nastiness, Bob Weber stands on a concrete slab at the edge of the Jones River in Kingston staring at the rushing water. Bob is one of many South Shore residents who take time out of their daily routines in the spring to count the herring swimming up the Jones River. On a day like this it can be a tough task to apply your complete focus for a full ten minutes. Especially when the fish haven’t really started running yet and it’s a safe bet you won’t see anything. Yet Bob and the others still take part because they understand the importance of this data collection and of the fish themselves.

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Volunteer, community efforts like this are going on at fish runs all over the South Shore and throughout the state. Watershed organizations recruit and train volunteers to monitor the river herring runs in order to help estimate the population returning to the rivers to spawn, a critical tool in understanding the health of the species. Monitoring the fish runs is a wonderful experience for the volunteers—getting them more attuned to this great natural phenomenon.

Life Cycle and Status

Herrings

From NSRWA website.

“River herring” is the general term used to refer to two species of migratory fish: alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) and blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis). While the two species are lumped together, they do have some differences in their spawning preferences. Alewife migrate as far up river as possible, seeking out headwater lakes and ponds. Bluebacks, on the other hand, prefer the mainstem of the river and will not ascend into ponds and lakes. Alewife spawning occurs when water temperatures come up to 50 degrees F, while bluebacks spawn slightly later when it’s a few degrees warmer. (It is interesting to see how herring respond to temperature cues. One day the fish will be stacked up at the bottom of the fish ladders–waiting, then on the next warm day, when the water temperature reaches that magic point, they will all start running up the ladder.)

So why all the time and effort to count these particular fish? In New England, we are blessed with Striped bass, cod, tuna, bluefish. All of these predatory fish (plus dolphin, whales, and seals) love to eat herring. Herring are a foundation of the marine food chain and are critical to sustaining the species we humans love to eat. But recently, population declines in river herring have occurred all along the Atlantic coast. The declines have been significant enough that the National Marine Fisheries Service has listed both alewife and bluebacks as “species of concern.”

How the Herring Lost its Way

How did we get to this point? This region we call New England was populated thousands of years before there was even an “Old England.” Archaeological digs at sites like Bay Farm on the Kingston-Duxbury line have identified the remains of native communities that existed nearly 10,000 years ago. These places were used by Native American tribes as summer fishing villages. Tribes took advantage of plentiful fish in the rivers and ocean to make up a substantial portion of their diets.

When Europeans first settled the area they were quick to understand the importance of this resource. Colonial records are full of references to streams overflowing with fish and their importance to the local diet and economy. They understood the seasonal changes in the rivers and how that translated into the return of fish. Even as they started to harness the rivers for industrial purposes, the fish took priority. Wooden and earthen dams that were built to turn mill wheels or flood pasture land were taken down in the spring to allow the fish to pass. Although they took their share from the river, early settlers were careful to allow enough fish to pass upstream for spawning. But as the economic benefits of industry on the river began to outweigh the benefit of harvesting fish, these dams remained in place for longer time periods. The final blow began at the end of the 19th century when durable concrete dams became the norm. These dams have mostly outlived their original industries; remnant dams now block the passage of fish on rivers across the South Shore.

Fortunately, people are becoming aware of the need to reestablish natural stream flows on our local rivers. Recently several dams have been removed on the South Shore, allowing herring and native fish such as brook trout access to habitat that has been unavailable in some cases for over 100 years!

  • In Plymouth, the brook that sustained the Pilgrims, Town Brook, has had a fish ladder repaired and two dams removed to allow herring to reach spawning grounds.
  • On the Jones River, the Wapping Road dam was removed, opening up over three miles of river for herring to spawn in.
  • In Pembroke, a fish ladder on Herring Brook, which still has one of the best populations of herring, was recently completely rebuilt, eliminating the need for volunteers to physically move fish above the dam so they could spawn in the river and in Furnace and Oldham Ponds.
  • And the Jones River Watershed Association and the town of Kingston are currently working on removing the Elm Street Dam. 
  • NSRWA has removed 2 dams on the Third Herring Brook, opening up 8.5 miles of stream habitat for spawning. This spring we hope to document the return of spawning river herring to this habitat that has been blocked for over 340 years!

The Future of Herring

In addition to benefiting the herring, these efforts are helping to restore community connections to our local rivers. For many of us on the South Shore, one of our last remaining connections to rivers is annual fish fries. Pembroke’s “Grande Old Fish Fry” is a 35-year tradition on Herring Brook that puts the local community in touch with the ecology and history of the place the Native Americans called Mattakeeset, or “place of many fish.” Unfortunately, now they serve cod cakes during the annual festival due to the depletion of herring stocks.

The future of herring, and all the things that depend on them, is uncertain right now. But proactive management, restoration efforts, and community interest may be saving these species in the nick of time. On a raw April afternoon in the not too distant future, the challenge for volunteer fish counters may be to count fast enough rather than struggling to maintain focus. Local fish fries may return and recreational fisherman may once again be able to use herring to catch that “keeper.” And we’ll have some great herring recipes to share when we get there.

Sign up now: www.nsrwa.org/count-river-herring/

Local organizations need your help to monitor herring.
Jones River Watershed Association

www.jonesriver.org
fish@jonesriver.org

North and South Rivers Watershed Association
www.nsrwa.org
samantha@nsrwa.org

By Alex Mansfield, the Ecology Program Director for the Jones River Watershed Association. Lately, he’s been knocking down dams to help rivers flow and herring swim.

and Samantha Woods, the Executive Director for the North and South Rivers Watershed Association. She likes to eat the fish that eat river herring!

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Culinary Adventures : Cooking with Abby

Part One

Why do I lead culinary adventures to Italy and France? It’s simple, I want to share my love of cooking, eating, breaking bread, and truly “living” with those who travel with me. When my husband Richard and I journeyed with our daughters and friends to Italy in 2012, I realized that the time we spent together––especially the cooking and dining together––was life changing. I call it a “soulful shift in my life’s direction.” Continue reading

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Ferment It : Carrots

I don’t know about you, but I HATE wasting food. I have a long-standing struggle with keeping carrots; I love them, but can’t seem to keep them fresh. When I was a kid, we never refrigerated them, and yet they seemed to last forever. As an adult, I’ve kept them out of refrigeration and they dry out and shrivel up. Refrigerated, they turn soft and limp. I read somewhere to store them in sand. That didn’t work either. And it really kills me when it’s my own garden carrots that go to waste. This year I left them in the ground for as long as possible, then gave them a quick rinse and stored them in an open plastic bag in the fridge. That technique seemed to help, but still, I didn’t want to waste ANY.

The Solution: Fermentation

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THE DISH ON MEAL KIT COMPANIES (part one): PACKAGING

From our friends at South Shore Organics, by Pam Denholm:

I have been watching the meal kit company space develop with great interest over the last year or two. I’ve overheard people talking about how convenient it is, and how there is no waste, and how it all seems too good to be true. And it is. Not only do meal kits take all the spontaneity out of cooking, but they fly in the face of all ethics we value and cherish.
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Volunteer Bloggers Wanted

Enjoy cooking? Writing? Eating? Join the ranks of eSS contributors. We are seeking volunteer bloggers to write about our local food community. Explore your passion, share with our readers, and build your portfolio.

We are looking for people willing to make a 3-month commitment, with 2 blogs a month, 500 words or less per post.  We do prefer each blogger to have his or her own single theme or focus for all posts. Continue reading

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SWEET INDULGENCES

Local bakers rise to the allergen-free, gluten-free challenge!

A favorite article updated for February 2017!

Sweet indulgences. For those with food allergies or other dietary restrictions, finding a place to purchase those scrumptious cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and pastries can be a challenge.

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Cafe Create A Cake treat

We’ve tapped the edible South Shore & South Coast (eSS&SC) community, to help us identify local businesses that are baking up delicious and safe foods for this growing segment of the population. Our goal? To find local bakers and bakeries that not only are making safe products but have created goodies that will leave even the most discriminating cupcake or cookie connoisseur wondering how the treat could possibly be allergen- or gluten-free.

If it seems like more and more people have food allergies, celiac disease, or gluten intolerance … they do. According to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), food allergies are on the rise, affecting up to 15 million Americans, including 1 in 13 children, or roughly two kids in every classroom. Sharon Schumack, Director of Education and Programs for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, New England Chapter (AAFA NE), stresses that “since a very tiny amount of an allergen can trigger a serious reaction, avoidance is key.” The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness notes that celiac disease, an autoimmune digestive disease, affects 1% of Americans, has no cure, and requires a 100% gluten-free diet … and 83% of those affected have yet to be diagnosed. So, if you don’t yet know someone with these dietary restrictions, chances are, you will.

Read the entire article on the edible South Shore & South Coast website.

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THAR’ SHE BLOWS! • CRAFT BEER COMES TO NEW BEDFORD

When it comes to the future of beer in New Bedford, call us thirsty. Moby Dick Brewing Company is coming to the corners of Union and South Water Streets.

Moby Dick Brewing

A family-friendly brewpub named after the classic Herman Melville novel, Moby Dick Brewing is aiming to open in March of 2017. Nautically themed, the brewery will offer seating for nearly a hundred patrons indoors as well as seasonal outdoor patio seating. Huge windows will overlook the New Bedford Whaling Museum, located just across the intersection. With a design meant to reflect New Bedford’s rich whaling history, the decor will feature authentic artifacts, artwork, and photography.

Moby Dick Brewing plans to offer between five and seven beers from their ten-barrel brewery operation viewable behind the bar. Each beer will be named for themes from the famous novel. They aim to produce 750 barrels the first year. The menu will be traditional pub fare emphasizing locally sourced fresh ingredients. Future expansion plans being considered include a retail area for purchasing memorabilia, and perhaps a growler refill station for those that prefer to chase whales at home.

Powered by a team of local investors, Moby Dick Brewing Company is a $1.3 million project of love. President and operations leader David Slutz, a Drink Localformer CEO of a North Shore manufacturing company, joined efforts with Maureen Sylvia Armstrong (CEO of the Sylvia Group in Dartmouth), Peter Kavanaugh (president of La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries in Dartmouth), Richard Lafrance (CEO of Lafrance Hospitality), and Bob Unger (principal of Unger LeBlanc, Inc. Strategic Communications). Each came to the table wanting to contribute to a project that would add allure to the downtown district. As Slutz put it, “We all wanted to do something that would be interesting and good for the city of New Bedford.”

With such caring stewardship, a prime location, and total focus on food and beer quality, Moby Dick Brewing Company looks to be a whale of an addition to the New Bedford restaurant scene.

Moby Dick Brewing
16 South Water Street
New Bedford, MA 02740
(508) 542-1252
www.MobyDickBrewing.com

Adam Centamore is a local wine and cheese educator and author who lives in Quincy. When he’s not scoping out cheese and booze combinations for his next book, Adam enjoys diving deep into the local food scene, wherever that locale might be.

Reprinted with permission from edible South Shore & South Coast 2007 Winter edition.

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GREENING THE FAMILY

 “STOP TRYING TO SAVE THE WORLD!”

(AND OTHER PESKY RESOLUTIONS)
A few years ago I was more than ready for the New Year. In contrast to previous celebrations, I was equipped with an amazing resolution. I could hardly wait for the ball to drop in Times Square. C’mon Dick Clark, I’m ready! Having been too self-absorbed for years to think about the environmental problems we face in our everyday lives, I had recently awakened to the cause. The world needed me! And I was prepared to join the fight for the planet! I felt like a superhero—I couldn’t wait to fight our enemies (I myself being one of them)!

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