The Local Food Report | WCAI

The Local Food Report


with Elspeth Hay and Ali Berlow

The world of food is changing, fast. As we re-imagine our relationships to what we eat, Local Food Report creator Elspeth Hay and co-host Ali Berlow take us to the heart of the local food movement to talk with growers, harvesters, processors, cooks, policy makers and visionaries. Through their conversations they aim to rebuild our cultural store of culinary knowledge—and to reconnect us with the people, places, and ideas that feed us.

The Local Food Report can be heard every Thursday morning at 8:45am and afternoon at 5:45pm, and Saturday morning at 9:35.

An avid locavore, Elspeth Hay lives in Wellfleet and writes a blog about food, Diary of a Locavore. 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. You can find more of her work at her website,

Ali Berlow lives on Martha's Vineyard and is the author of "The Food Activist Handbook; Big & Small Things You Can Do to Help Provide Fresh, Healthy Food for Your Community." Foreword by Alice Randall, Storey Publishing. You can reach her at her website,

The Local Food Report is produced by Jay Allison and Viki Merrick of Atlantic Public Media.

The Local Food Report is made possible by the support of the Local Food Chain.


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.

Elspeth Hay

It’s that time of year again. Seed catalogs are pouring in through the mail, and home gardeners are plotting and planning for the growing season ahead. It’s fun, but it can also be overwhelming. This year, rather than muddle my way through alone, I decided to talk with someone a bit more experienced. I met master gardener Celeste Makely in her home greenhouse, and she told me what seeds she’s planting this year.

Elspeth Hay

Brent Hemeon has five acres in Harwich. And everywhere you look, there are apple trees.

He has around 175 of them. He started his garden in 1990, but then it got big. "Too big,” he says.

Elspeth Hay

People don’t typically think about eating nuts that grow in our local woods. Before Europeans arrived, the forests of Cape Cod were more diverse. Stands of nut-bearing hickories, walnuts, beeches, chestnuts, and hazelnuts—all rich food sources—were much more common. Mashpee Wampanoag food activist Danielle Hill says that her people still use and remember these foods.


It’s seed ordering time again. While the cold blows in under the doors and through cracks in the windows, the catalogs pour in through the mail. And it’s time to start thinking about this year’s gardens. What are we going to plant? Well, together with his wife, Peter Staaterman runs Longnook Meadows Farm in Truro, and he has an idea.

Alison Shaw

Cathy Walthers of West Tisbury is a kale fanatic. Before publishing her cookbook Kale, Glorious Kale in 2014, while testing recipes, she ate the green for 140 days straight. Kale is one of the only local greens available for most of the year, and it’s also wonderfully versatile.

Boris Smokrovic /

John Portnoy of Wellfleet raises his own bees. He has one Russian colony headed by a Russian queen that he purchased. His other hives are headed by queens that are survivors, so he bred from his best queens every year in the hopes that his bees will get better and more locally adapted. 

Elspeth Hay

Around 2006, beekeepers and scientists started talking about something called colony collapse disorder. CCD at that time was a new phenomenon; suddenly whole hives of worker bees started disappearing, leaving behind a queen, plenty of food, and a few nurse bees. Ever since, scientists have been trying to figure out why.    

Elspeth Hay

Elspeth Hay's great-grandfather kept his eggnog recipe in the safety deposit box - it's that good. This week on The Local Food Report, Elspeth reveals its secrets, and how it got the sexton drunk.

Max Paschall

Staple crops are the basis of our everyday diets, the foods we eat all year round that it’s hard to imagine doing without—things like flour and sugar. Max Paschall, an arborist in Pennsylvania, thinks these staple crops could come from shrubs and trees. 

Max Paschall

A few years ago, a Philadelphia arborist named Max Paschall read an article about a man named John Hershey. Hershey ran a tree nursery and experimental farm in Pennsylvania in the 1930s. The article mentioned a food forest Hershey had planted, groves of carefully selected trees that were apparently still standing in a suburb of Philadelphia called Downingtown.

Elspeth Hay

One January, I gave a talk to the Village Garden Club of Dennis. In the midst of a snowstorm, we talked about landscaping with edible plants. I asked if anyone knew of any unusual food plants growing on the Cape, and at the end of the talk a woman named Susan sought me out. “There is a persimmon tree near my house,” she said.

Elspeth Hay

Until recently, I didn’t know that acorns are edible. It turns out that while the nuts require some processing to leach out bitter tannins and turn them into either grits or flour, once you’ve got ground acorns, there are all kinds of foods you can make with them. 

Elspeth Hay

I’m standing in a barn in Stoughton, Massachusetts, just south of Boston I’m at a workshop with the New England Acorn Cooperative. Five women are gathered around a machine called the Davebilt Nutcracker, where three young boys are churning out cracked acorns. 

Elspeth Hay

Some livestock unequivocally fare better on certain diets. Cows, for instance, do best on grass. But when it comes to pigs, local farmers are faced with a classic omnivore's dilemma. Pigs can and will eat just about anything. In this week's Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay talks with four local pig farmers about what they feed their pigs, and why.