The Local Food Report | WCAI

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.

Wellfleet Historical Society

Almost every town in Massachusetts has a Herring River or a Herring Pond. The migration of river herring from sea to coastal streams and ponds once marked an important rite of spring for New Englanders. For centuries, the small, oily fish were valued as both bait and an important food source. But today, taking river herring is illegal in Massachusetts because populations are so low. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay learns about what led one Cape Cod town to dike its Herring River—and how it hopes to bring back both the health of the river, and the fish it was named for.

Elspeth Hay

Most people are familiar with at least shiitake and crimini mushrooms. But there are dozens of other varieties that are both nutritious and incredibly good for you. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay talks with Wesley Price and Troy Janusz of Nantucket Mushrooms in Chatham. The farm grows twenty-two varieties of edible and medicinal mushrooms.

You can read more about the varieties the farm is growing on Elspeth's blog, Diary of a Locavore.

Elspeth Hay

What does it take to grow mushrooms inside? This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay talks with mushroom enthusiast and grower Wesley Price of Nantucket Mushrooms, which recently relocated to Chatham. He walks her through the growing process from mycelium to full grown king oysters, pictured here.

You can read more about the growing process on Elspeth's blog, Diary of a Locavore.


Elspeth Hay

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacteria native to North Atlantic waters. When ingested—usually through raw oysters—it makes people sick. Over the past several years, the number of reported cases of Vp have increased, but scientists and growers aren't sure why. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay talks with the President of the Massachusetts Aquaculture Association and an oyster grower from Barnstable about potential reasons for the apparent increase in the occurence of vibrio illnesses, and what local oyster growers are doing to keep their product safe. 

This time of year, we all crave a little green. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay talks with Truro resident Arthur Teubner about creating an attached indoor growing space. Arthur's south facing greenhouse was inspired by his time with the New Alchemy Institute in Hatchville. You can read more on Elspeth's blog, Diary of a Locavore.

This piece is a rebroadcast from February 18, 2010.

Andrew Cummings

Every year around this time, seed catalogs start pouring in to local mailboxes. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth talks with Wellfleet gardener Andrew Cummings about what varieties he's ordering for the 2014 growing season. 

You can read more on Elspeth's blog, Diary of a Locavore. And you can click on these links to read her past guides to seed ordering:

Elspeth Hay

They are hairy on the outside. Blood spills out when you open them. On The Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay investigates the often off-putting blood clam. And she discovers them - once you get past the blood and the visceral appearance - hearty and delicious.

Find out more about blood clams, and see Elspeth's recipe, on her blog, Diary of a Locavore

Elspeth Hay

Sourcing local food can be a lot of work for school cafeteria directors, and they already have a tough job. A new statewide program aims to make the process easier: it's called Harvest of the Month, and it's run by the Massachusetts Farm to School Project. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay talks with Wellfleet Elementary Cafeteria Manager Tonya Felix about how the program has helped her put local food on the menu. 

Most schools across the country have contracts to get their meals from corporate food service providers. These providers are big, often multi-national companies that provide meals to schools, hospitals, and prisons.

They buy huge amounts of food from big, industrial farms at very low prices, making lunch inexpensive for the schools and profitable for the companies. Some schools have exclusive contracts, meaning they can only buy their food from the companies, and others have looser arrangements. Either way, school food budgets are based on these sorts of deals, which means there's very little money available for lunch.

Elspeth Hay

Twenty years ago, Drew Locke was a student at Truro Central School. Now all grown up, he runs a poultry farm that feeds the current students a chicken lunch every Thursday. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay talks with Truro Central cafeteria manager Warren Falkenburg about the school's new Farm to School initiative. He tells her about the challenges and rewards of getting local food on the table. You can read more on Elspeth's blog, Diary of a Locavore.

Elspeth Hay

Many local farmers have a greenhouse to help extend the growing season. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay talks with a young Brewster farmer who got a grant from the state to build a mobile greenhouse. The structure itself is 25 feet long by 12 feet wide, but it can slide back and forth over two fields 12 feet wide by 50 field long. Lucas Dinwiddie of Halcyon farm will use this system to cover different crops at different times of the year.

Elspeth Hay

Two Skidmore College students started the Wellfleet Sea Salt Company with a simple proposition: let the sun do most of the work. On the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay explores the process and offers a delicious custard recipe for enjoying the results. How barebones is the salt-making operation? Seawater is evaporated within floating greenhouses, and the resulting crystals are crushed with a wine bottle. 

UPDATE: This report aired last January 2013.

Elspeth Hay

There are said to be roughly 600 cultivated varieties of garlic worldwide. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay talks with a Truro farmer who's sought out and planted some of the most unusual varieties of garlic on his quarter acre farm. This fall Peter Burgess put 6,000 cloves in the ground. As winter wears on, his excitement grows, and he muses on the satisfaction of knowing he has something growing to carry him through from fall until spring.

Elspeth Hay

These days, we don't often interact with the animals we eat. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth Hay talks with three local people about raising, slaughtering, and butchering pigs. She weaves their voices together to bring the animals from life to death and finally to the table.

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. 

You can read more on Elspeth's blog, Diary of a Locavore.