Shrouds of gray fell over the Boston skyline last Sunday, but that did not deter Bostonians from soaking up as much warmth as they could over the past few weeks at the Boston Local Food Festival.
Tucked in between the New England Aquarium and Faneuil Hall were rows of white tents, each featuring an array of different foods, enticing shows, and curious minds, all culminating in the lively event that is the Festival.
The Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) started the annual festival in 2010. Since its inception, the festival has aimed to promote and support the local food industry. With its recurring theme of healthy, good food for all, the event has received an increasing amount of recognition over the past seven years.
Initially, the festival grounds were located in front of the Children’s Museum, but due to an increasing number of attendees, it has since moved its location to the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Public relations and logistics coordinator, Nicola Williams, explained that this allows the festival to accommodate more visitors, as numbers have risen to more than 50,000. The new location is also in sync with “the green way of life” that both the event and the park try to educate on and encourage in the residents of Massachusetts.
Hundreds of diverse vendors are dispersed through five blocks of the Greenway—the colorful array begins at State Street and ends on High Street. Products range from all-natural condiments, sauces, and syrups to fresh seafood and international, but locally produced, dishes. Vendors like Maple Nut Kitchen, a local granola company, have been participating in this food festival ever since the beginning of the company.
Vivian Cubilla-Lindblom, the owner of Maple Nut Kitchen, decided to join the festival after hearing about it from another vendor. She was attracted to the idea of a festival that was well attended and focused on healthy, flavorful foods.
Other than the promotion of environmentally friendly means of living, the Boston Local Food Festival also strives to practice sustainability, as it is a zero-waste event.
The Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts made it a point to minimize the impact on the environment. Williams emphasizes that it is an event that is able to divert over 91 percent of its waste and offset 100 percent of its energy use. On the official website, an extensive informational guide on the different means of transportation to get to the festival was provided in order to encourage the use of public transportation.
A “green” mindset has become a popular lifestyle for many like Emily, an experimental cook who heard about the festival from a friend. What struck her most about the festival was the variety of products and the ways in which natural food sources are being used for different things.
After making her way through the entire five blocks, she said that it was a great way for tourists to be exposed to the local cuisine and for Boston natives to truly appreciate the vibrant culture of the city. This sentiment is reflected in the observations of Trina, a tourist from Japan who said the food festival was a great way to spend time with family on a Sunday, and that it is an interesting concept that hopefully will be started in her home country someday. She continued that it’s a great way to help the local economy and promote the culture of any country.
The most challenging thing about running this festival, according to Williams, is the inability of the organizers to control the weather at the time of the event. She said that even if it rains, people still come out to support.
Williams stresses that it’s not a festival exclusively for foodies, it’s a celebration for the everyone in the Boston community. It’s a means by which foodies, chefs, students, children, and adults can learn about the local industry, as well as support it.
Featured Image by Maxine Alindogan