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Boston Local Food Festival serves up healthy, local food for all

6/14/2011, 11:30 p.m.
(Joe Grafton photo) Chef Didi Emmons won the...


(Joe Grafton photo)

    Chef Didi Emmons won the Seafood Throwdown competition last year. (Photo courtesy of thehungrycrafter.com)
   

Last October, the first annual Boston Local Food Festival was held in Fort Point, on a picture perfect Saturday afternoon in front of the Boston Children’s Museum. A program of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston (SBN), Boston Local Food works to grow a sustainable local food system that provides healthy, local food for all.

We foster connections between eaters, local food sources, producers, distributors, restaurants, retail food businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations, with a core interest in supporting locally owned independent food businesses. This festival was no exception. More than 100 vendors from across Greater Boston and New England came to share their delicious local goods for thousands of delighted attendees.

This year’s event will be held Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 from 11 a.m. — 5 p.m. Built upon the principals of local, green and fair, the Boston Local Food Festival is Boston’s premier food event for restaurants, food producers promoting local food and the eaters seeking to support them. This is a free admission and zero waste festival where farmers, fisherfolk, producers and chefs sell and showcase farm fresh ingredients, and regionally-made, specialty products.

An important goal of the festival is to help Massachusetts eaters of all ages, races and socioeconomic levels see, appreciate and understand the connections between their health, the food they eat and the ways local food is grown, sourced, produced, distributed and provided to them. SBN accomplishes this through effective partnerships with many community-based organizations. Spectators of all backgrounds learn about the benefits of locally produced food, participate in educational activities, engage with top local chefs and enjoy local live music from a diversity of artists and local art. Drawing on the values of fairness, food served is priced at an affordable $5 per plate.

In its first year, the festival was enthusiastically received by more than 30,000 participants and support from the city, state and federal government and other organizations endorsing the benefits of locally grown, nutritious foods. Keeping to a zero-waste policy, more than 200 volunteers worked to leave behind a clean festival site, composting, recycling and disposing of all waste.

Vendors included MandM Ribs, City Fresh, Singh’s Roti, Haley House, Norma’s Catering and more. Chef Lee was a featured chef, demonstrating how to cook healthy Southern-style collard greens! Chef Nadine Nelson also cooked up a storm. Chef Didi Emmons from Haley House won the Seafood Throwdown competition, where celebrity chefs faced off to create amazing seafood dishes from completely local ingredients.

This year, Boston Local Food Festival is excited to have many of the most popular vendors and exhibitors returning. We are partnering again with Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, Haley House, The Food Project, South Boston Grows, Boston Public Market, Mass Farmers Market Association, Community Servings and Boston Area Natural Network, among others to make the festival even better.

We expect to have 2011 will feature an expanded Fish Stock, where we have a live Seafood Throwdown Competition — come see who will win this year. We will also have the return of the Family Fun Zone, cooking demonstrations from local chefs and a new “Do It Yourself” section. If you would like to be a vendor, volunteer or come to the festival, visit www.bostonlocalfoodfestival.com  or call 617-575-9165.