The Local Food Report | CAI

The Local Food Report


with Elspeth Hay

The world of food is changing, fast. As we re-imagine our relationships to what we eat, Local Food Report creator Elspeth Hay takes us to the heart of the local food movement to talk with growers, harvesters, processors, cooks, policy makers and visionaries. Through these conversations she aims 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,

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.

Rand Burkert

Shortly after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Julio Cruz and his family moved to the Outer Cape. With Spanish as his first language, Julio enrolled in an English as a second language class at Nauset Regional High School. Surprisingly his ESL class focused on building a garden of all things. The teacher Rand Burkert connected the students to each other, and English, by growing crops they remembered from home.

Graham Burnett /

I’m standing on the edge of about an eighth acre covered in wood chips and newly planted trees and shrubs at Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary. It doesn’t look like much now, but Sanctuary Director Ian Ives and volunteer Cara Wilking say the idea is to highlight native and edible plants in an interactive exhibit.

Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance

For years now, local haddock have been plentiful. But while the stock is big and healthy, the individual fish are small. Eric Hess, a haddock fisherman from West Barnstable explains.

Elspeth Hay

I’ve been thinking a lot the past few weeks about my grandmother. Biee as we called her, or Bobby Cary—was an excellent cook. She lived in Virginia, far away from my parents in Maine—and after my grandfather died in the nineties, she’d come to visit two or three times a year. She only flew on Wednesdays—the cheapest and according to her safest day to fly—and she always came for the month of December.

Nicole Cormier

Nicole Cormier stands in the rain on a cold, windy day, pulling fish bones out of a big tub that she just picked up from a local fish cutter. 


"We use all of it—tails, the heads, the guts, the skins, it’s all amazing parts of the fish to add,” Nicole said. 

Elspeth Hay

My mom’s friend Genie says the best gifts are “comestibles,” things that can be devoured and quickly disappear. She’s right.

Elspeth Hay

This time of year, it’s still dark when Patrick Rickaby and his springer Ada leave home. They climb out of Patrick’s truck at dawn deep in the heart of Cape Cod National Seashore. Ada’s a bird dog, and she and Patrick are here to hunt ringed-necked pheasant. Today I tag along.

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.

Purple Quahog Mystery

Nov 19, 2020
Danielle Hill

For hundreds of years, Wampanoag people have relied on quahogs both for food and for making wampum, traditional purple shell beads. But recently, Chuckie Green has been wondering if these two uses are competing. Green is the natural resources department director for the Wampanoag Tribe, and he says native quahogs are changing.

Elspeth Hay

Peter Burgess is as interested in the history of farming as he is in the practice itself. His farm in Truro is called Sixpence Farm, after a silver coin he found in the soil that dates back to 1689. Burgess focuses almost entirely on fruits and vegetables that would have been found here over a hundred years ago. On the day I visited, he told me about the apple varieties he planted, and why he chose them.

Sijie Yuan, Maine Community Foundation

The Agrarian Trust is a national land trust trying to reimagine American land ownership. As American farm land becomes consolidated into fewer and fewer hands, the trust wants to help communities move in the opposite direction—to help people across the U.S. buy and hold farm land collectively. One of the first groups to join the organization as a so-called Agrarian Commons is the Somali Bantu Community Association of central Maine. 

Micah LeMon

Last fall I noticed an unusual fruit tree. It was growing in Wellfleet in a protected courtyard, and there were bright orange fruits the size of golf balls hanging in the branches. 

Elspeth Hay

Dave Scandurra and Marina Matos are landscapers. But they’re not interested in planting your average Cape Cod garden of hydrangeas and beach grass. Instead, they work with people who want to fill their yards with food. Right now Dave’s excited about something called mioga ginger.

Elspeth Hay

According to farmer Ron Backer of Brewster, there’s only one fruit meant for salsa. The surprising thing is that it’s not a tomato.

“The tomatillos are what you really make salsa from,” Ron says.

Elspeth Hay

Ben Chung is obsessed with garlic. He lives in East Orleans with his wife, six kids, and uncle, and he works as a dentist. But when he’s not cleaning teeth, he’s outside working in his garden, where he grows over fifty kinds of garlic.

Elspeth Hay

What if I told you I’ve been making grape pie? Would you believe me? Or, like my mother, would you need me to cut you a slice, to prove it?

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.