Elspeth Hay | CAI

Elspeth Hay

An avid locavore, Elspeth lives in Wellfleet and writes a blog about food. Elspeth is constantly exploring the Cape, Islands, and South Coast and all our farmer's markets to find out what's good, what's growing and what to do with it. Her Local Food Report airs Thursdays at 8:30 on Morning Edition and 5:45pm on All Things Considered, as well as Saturday mornings at 9:30.

Sarah Reynolds

Barbara Austin is a Wellfleet legend. With hands like quicksilver, she’s won the Annual Wellfleet OysterFest Shuck-Off multiple times since it began in 2001. The Festival, held each October the Saturday and Sunday after Columbus day weekend, brings tens of thousands of shellfish lovers to town to eat, drink, and watch as local shuckers compete for the title. According to Austin, she developed her knack for opening oysters over 20 years ago.

Elspeth Hay

Marmelada, if you've never had it, is nothing like marmalade. It is made of quince, not oranges, and although it is a kind of fruit preserve, it is much more firm than the citrus stuff. It's so hard that the Portuguese eat it in slices, alongside a piece of banana maybe or plain or with a hunk of cheese.

Elspeth Hay

A small crowd of people at the Plimoth Grist Mill recite excitedly in unison, “One, two three: Water on!” One of the millers and a group of visitors are starting the water wheel at the same site where the Pilgrims built the first American grist mill in 1636. The replica mill, operated by Plimouth Plantation, works not only as an exhibit but also as a modern-day production facility. Kim Van Wormer and Matt Tavares are the millers. 

Elspeth Hay

I grew up in farm country, in Maine. Like most of us, I associate food with farms—big cultivated fields, animals grazing in pasture, aquaculture racks in the sea. But recently I’ve been thinking a lot more about wild foods. What would the world look like if more wild places filled our bellies?

Sky Freyss-Cole

My husband’s grandmother kept a big garden for years—roughly 15 by 30 feet, and always filled with beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peas. She passed away a few years ago and the land is still in the family, but over the past few seasons it’s been neglected, and now it’s overgrown.

JENNIFER BENDER

A butter clam is just a juvenile surf clam.

Surf clams are the big, wide clams Cape Cod cooks chop up and use for chowder or clam strips. In Asia people use the tongues for sushi, and lots of beachcombers collect the shells to use as soap dishes or ashtrays. But those are full-grown surf clams and they all come from a wild fishery. 

Elspeth Hay

Many farmers think of parsnips as an underappreciated vegetable—they're sweet, tasty, and they store well. But this week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay learns that growing them isn't as easy as it seems—and that other wild relatives may pose a risk as well.

Michael Holt’s rosehip obsession started with an apricot mousse. When he had it for the first time it quickly became one of his favorite desserts.

creative commons

You’ve probably heard of a huckleberry. But have you ever eaten one? The small, black relatives of the blueberry grow all over the Cape and Islands, and Neil Gadway has been picking them his whole life.

Elspeth Hay

It is squash season. I planted our patch in the spring, from leftover packets of seed I found in the garden basket in the mudroom. They were extras from the year before, February dreams we never followed through with, little packets of possibility languishing. 

Elspeth Hay

I first met Roe Osborn on a cold January evening at a WCAI pub night. Today, it’s hot and rainy, and we’re standing outside looking at a patch of leafy plants in his garden.

The last time that we spoke, he was excited about celery.

Elspeth Hay

It’s obvious that lettuce comes in all sorts of different varieties. Most people know the difference between Romaine and Boston Bibb. But strawberries? In grocery stores, they pretty much all seem the same. That’s not true, though, on local farms. I spoke with local growers to get an idea of the differences and what they really like.

FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/JAKECAPTIVE

It’s pouring rain at Ryder’s Cove in Chatham, where I’m standing with Don St. Pierre, the town’s herring warden.

He tells me about the herring's journey: They swim up a little stream, go under Rt. 28, and then to Lovers Lake. It’s probably around 1/4 of a mile trek for them.

Elspeth Hay

In the heart of downtown Hyannis, Hy West Elementary School faces a unique set of socioeconomic challenges. Compared to student population averages at school districts and statewide, Hyannis West has a disproportionate number of low-income students: 57 percent of the school’s student body is considered economically disadvantaged, almost double the average statewide. But in addition to that, School Garden Coordinator Sue LaVallee says there’s a wide array of other challenges.

K.C. Myers

If you live on the Cape, you’ve maybe heard of the Ballston Beach overwash. It’s the spot on the ocean side in Truro where the Perfect Storm broke through in 1991. One relatively low sand dune is the only thing here between the ocean and the Pamet River, which cuts through Truro east to west from Cape Cod bay. George Mooney’s family farm is a quarter mile inland from the ocean beach.

Elspeth Hay

Back in the 1980s, the Eastham Historical Society started an oral history project. Interviewers recorded dozens of old timers—people who had been in town since the early 1900s. Some were early summer people, others had been here for generations. In almost every single interview, the people from Eastham mention asparagus. Asparagus was a big industry in town in the 1920s and 1930s. This week’s piece weaves local voices together, to tell the story of what asparagus season during this time was like. 

Elspeth Hay

In many local gardens, rhubarb is the first plant ready to harvest. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth talks with her mother, Liz Pierson, about their favorite family rhubarb recipes. Favorites include spicy rhubarb chutney to serve with Indian food, a rhubarb custard pie similar to lemon meringue, and a sweet, tender rhubarb cake.

Sustainable Nantucket

Nantucket is one of the most expensive zip codes in the country. It’s also highly protected— roughly forty percent of the island’s acreage is in permanent conservation restrictions.

But, according to Dan Southey, a new farmer on the island, “nobody can buy land to farm on Nantucket.”

Elspeth Hay

Watercress was introduced to North America hundreds of years ago by European settlers. This week on theLocal Food Report, Elspeth Hay goes foraging for the edible aquatic green in the Herring River in Wellfleet.

You can find a recipe for watercress salad on Elspeth's blog, Diary of a Locavore

This piece first aired in May, 2016. 

Elspeth Hay

Two years ago my family started keeping chickens. Since then, we’ve raised birds for eggs and for meat, and we’ve always gotten the baby chicks at our local farm store. But this season I started wondering, what would it take to get a hen to hatch a few fertilized eggs on her own?

Courtesy Greg Watson

After the Cold War Cuba was forced to grapple with a series of agricultural crises when their industrial system suddenly lost access to chemical fertilizers, fossil fuels, and pesticides. In 2014, MDAR Commissioner at the time Greg Watson traveled to Cuba to study the takeaways from this country’s reluctant experiment.

Photo by Elspeth Hay

Ali Berlow and Elspeth Hay have been taking stock about why local food is important to them. They've talked about local food through a lens of economics, seasonality and now,  security .  

Josh Leveque and his family grow a lot of the food they eat. They have a huge garden overlooking Little Harbor in Woods Hole and each year they put up gallons and gallons of vegetables. The season starts with lettuce.

Elspeth Hay

All beehives are full of activity. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay talks with a beekeeper in Wellfleet who's taken the phrase "busy as a bee" to another level—with one of his hives collecting climate data for NASA.

This story is a rebroadcast. It first aired December 7, 2017.

Elspeth Hay

Richard Bailey is a pretty serious amateur forager. Every few months, he calls to tell me about a new wild food. Most recently, he took me to see a black walnut tree growing down the street from his house in Wellfleet. The tree is less than a foot in diameter, and fairly young.

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