The Local Food Report | WCAI

The Local Food Report

Elspeth Hay

Ken Mason is an avid cook. His son Morgan is a fisherman, and he often shares extra bluefin tuna with Ken. This summer, Ken’s been experimenting with smoking the belly, or Toro, of the tuna.


"As you can see have different kinds of toro here; there is otoro, which is the fattiest and the firmest and then this is chu toro, it’s got more connective tissue and it’s a little tougher and it’s a little flakier.” 

Until the other day, I’d never thought about how an animal’s diet affects the ways farmers control them. When we talk about the differences between farm animals raised on grass versus grain, we usually focus on health. But there’s also a set of relationships that’s lost when these animals follow the sound of grain in a bucket instead of grazing.

Elspeth Hay

Simon Thorrold and his border collie Quinn are moving sheep in a dry, dusty pasture. This year, in addition to COVID-19, he and fellow sheep farmer Diana Wickman face another challenge: a level 2 statewide drought. This July was the second hottest on record for Massachusetts, and most areas are in a rainfall deficit of 1 to 3 inches. Diana and Simon are committed to raising grass-fed lamb—they think it’s better for the people who eat their meat, for their sheep, and for the environment—and some people would say it’s also delicious—but this year, the grass just isn’t growing. Back in the barn, Diana loads up a bucket.

Elspeth Hay

Elinor Arsenault knows the secret to a good pastry.

“That’s made with butter, real butter, I use a lot of real butter.”

Elspeth Hay

My mother is a profound believer in the power of zucchini. A zucchini patch, she says, is a meal. It can feed a family for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner on the grill. You name the zucchini recipe, she's made it. She has four recipes for zucchini bread alone.

Jono Neiger

In 2018, Jono Neiger planted seven acres of blight resistant Chinese Chestnuts in Western Massachusetts.

“I picked them because they’re a smallish tree crop, they come into production fairly quick—really they’ll start to produce in year four, five, six and then increase from there, and then the per acre number can be quite high from 2,000 to 5,000 pounds an acre, producing this high quality staple crop nut that is basically akin to wheat,” he said.

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.

Elspeth Hay

You know that liquid in the compost that you try to avoid? My neighbor Kris Smith is making something like it on purpose. It bubbles, and well, it’s active. It’s alive.

John Kempf

John Kempf is a longtime farmer in Ohio. He grew up on a conventional fruit and vegetable farm. His dad was a pesticide distributor and he became a licensed pesticide applicator at age sixteen. But in the early 2000s, no matter what they sprayed, they started losing more than two thirds of their crop every year. I caught up with John in his outdoor home office in the farm field.

Elspeth Hay

Have you ever had a black raspberry? Until about ten years ago, I thought they were made up—a way to describe a commercial flavor, like a blue raspberry Jolly Rancher.  I know, it’s a little embarrassing. Then a friend gave me a black raspberry plant for my garden. They’re a real fruit? I asked. She laughed. It turns out they’re native to the United States, and incredibly prolific.

Elspeth Hay

Zucchini is the home gardeners' summer squash of choice. But Wellfleet farmer Victoria Pecoraro prefers varieties that stay small. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth talks with Victoria about three round summer squash varieties the size of a cue ball, and gets Victoria's recipe for Zucchini Parmesan. 

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

I’ve been thinking about how long it takes to really get to know a place. Take the wild cherries, for instance.

Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust

Stephanie Morningstar is coordinator for the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust. The group started in 2017 as an informal alliance between farmers of color at Soul Fire Farm and Wildseed Farm in New York and Global Village in Grafton, Massachusetts. 

Elspeth Hay

When Dave Ross bought his first cranberry bog in the 1980s, the berry plants were over a hundred years old. In fact, most of the cranberry bogs in the area were built in the mid to late 1800s.

Liz Lerner

For decades, Anne Averill has been researching how our agricultural systems impact native bees. More specifically, she's been studying the diversity and abundance of bumblebees for 30 years now. 

Elisabeth Swan, 2017

Here’s what I know about asparagus: it’s delicious, usually green, and, most importantly for us, my friend Scott Britton grows it in North Falmouth. But his doesn’t look anything like the tidy bundles you find in the supermarket. And it sure doesn’t taste like supermarket asparagus—which is exactly what led Scott and his wife Liz to growing their own. It all started when  some friends gave them some wild asparagus….

Elspeth Hay

The other day, my girls and I visited our friend Stephen Spear at his pick your-own blueberry farm in Dennis. He walked us out to the woods alongside the fields, where a box of bumblebees had just arrived from Michigan.

A Local Food Economy That Works like an Apple Tree

May 21, 2020
Sam Willsea

Alice Maggio got interested in economics because of the local food movement. Her family had always kept sheep. And when she read Michael Pollan’s groundbreaking book the Omnivore’s Dilemma, she saw that this small act was part of something bigger.

Elspeth Hay

We’ve been talking recently on the Local Food Report about honeybees—why we need them, what challenges they face, and what local beekeepers, farmers, and citizens are doing to safeguard them. But native insects that act as pollinators are also part of this conversation. 

Elspeth Hay

I first tasted milkweed a few years ago. I was at Ceraldi in Wellfleet—a restaurant known for its focus on hyper local ingredients— and I tried the plants’ shoots. They were bright and snappy and so gloriously green-tasting that I wanted to learn more. Co-owner and chef Michael Ceraldi explains what Asclepias syriaca, or Common Milkweed is.

Elspeth Hay

With many restaurants shuttered and others limited to take-out, we’re eating and cooking at home more than ever before. Plus, there’s panic buying. For some local food sectors, this has meant an increase in business, for others, a steep decline. But across the board, it means meant change. Eric Glasgow runs Grey Barn Farm on Martha’s Vineyard, which includes a general farm stand and a specialty cheese operation that also wholesales to grocery stores. He explains how supply chain disruptions are happening.

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. 

Courtesy Scott Lindell

For years, Scott Lindell has been interested in a big idea, food from the ocean that could feed the masses. 

He started with farmed striped bass. Then he moved on to shellfish. These days, he’s researching seaweed.

Elspeth Hay

Now that it’s getting warmer out, I’ve been checking my foraging spots. I’ve got two for stinging nettles and one for watercress but I’ve been wondering—what else could I be getting? So I put out a call to my foraging friends. Are you going out? I asked. What are you finding? The voicemails started coming in.