Sunday, April 11, 2010

down:2:earth, Boston's Sustainable Living Expo

I just did a fermentation demo at down:2:earth, Boston's Sustainable Living Expo. My demo was arranged by Ilene Bezahler, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of Edible Boston, d:2:e Advisory Board member, and powerful force for real food in the Boston area.

I had 20 or 30 people in the audience (give or take), and as usual, the time was much too short! I told them I would put together a list of fermentation resources for them. Here's what I have so far: . I'll update it, so come back and visit.

After I finished my demo, I visited the exhibitions.

d:2:e had a real local and sustainable feeling to it that some of the larger natural products expos are missing.

A company was demoing their barbeque sauce on some grilled chicken. I asked them where the chickens were from; they told me that they were from a farm near their house, and we talked a little bit about it. I was impressed.

I would love to help create a world in which chickens live on farms.

Taza chocolate was in attendance, and as usual, I ate slightly more of their chocolate than strictly necessary.

Organic Valley was there, including a couple of their farmers. I "tasted" their drinkable plain yogurt a few times—it helped keep me going through the day. I gave them positive feedback on their cultured pasture butter, which I use a lot. They were pouring cream into mason jars, then having expo attendees shake the jars until the cream turned into butter and buttermilk. I'd forgotten about this method. Great thing to do with kids.

LÄRABAR had a booth with bite-sized samples of some of their bars. I like their bars because they don't contain any junk. For instance, their "Cherry Pie" bar has three ingredients: dates, almonds, and unsweetened cherries. Or "Coconut Cream Pie": dates, unsweetened coconut, almonds, cashews, extra-virgin coconut oil. While almonds may be problematic, and while nuts are best when they've been soaked, LÄRABAR is way ahead of all the other bar companies. Everyone else's bars contain soy protein isolate (really bad) or agave "nectar" (similar to HFCS) or unsweetened cane juice or concentrated fruit juice (a step up from sugar, but still not great in large amounts) or sometimes plain old sugar.

Harvest Coop, a food co-op a few blocks from my house, was at the show. I got to meet Chris Durkin, Director of Membership and Community Relations, and up until now just a name at the top of bimonthly newsletters.

Lots of other interesting exhibitors, including green building (environmentally friendly & well-insulated), green gardening, bicycles and electric bikes, green clothing, Qi Gong, and so on.

d:2:e is definitely worth a look when it comes back around next year. I'm sorry I couldn't have blogged about it sooner.


Virginia said...

I went up to the Made in NH Expo and ate a ton too! Love OV's cultured butter, I also use Kerrygold. Larabar's are great "real food"

Wish I could have seen your ferments class! Have a good week...

Alex Lewin said...

Pity they were the same weekend!

Thanks Virginia. You have a good week too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex!
I just made red cabbage sourkraut and thought of you. I'm sad I missed this event, it sounds great. I'm also in love with lara bars- to the point that I've started researching making my own. I figure with three ingredients, it can't be that hard, right?

Abbe said...

Thanks. I missed your demo (went Saturday, which might have been a mistake, but we had plans on Sunday), but appreciate the positive perpective on the rest of the expo. Honestly, I came home cynically thinking "well, at least there were coupons on not-so-bad semi-local organic dairy products I buy anyway, and the people selling packaged goods all had decent answers to my sourcing questions." I didn't talk to the Larabar people, and thus didn't actually realize that they were cooler than the rest, and stuff like that and Cascadian Farms had me thinking ar more cynically.

Alex Lewin said...

Yah, by its very nature, it's hard to have an expo of really small businesses, because many of them can't spare the time to come to an expo, because they're too busy running their businesses.

These days, I think if you can support not-so-bad semi-local organic dairy products, and if you can find people selling packaged goods with decent answers to your sourcing questions, you're way ahead of the game...unless you live in a rural area and can buy food from your neighbors and friends...