Wednesday, May 19, 2010


A few weeks ago, Slow Food BU participated in SlowFest, Boston's first Session Beer Festival, with our friends at Slow Food Boston.

Session beer is beer with a lower alcohol content. According to the Session Beer Project, session beer is 4.5% alcohol by volume or less. This is the perfect excuse to slow down and enjoy more beers, and the session beers were the perfect pairing to the local food vendors present at the festival.

There were session beers of all kinds at SlowFest, and beer vendors present included Boston Beer Works (Boston, MA) and Cisco Brewers based in Nantucket, MA. See the complete list of beer vendors here.

(from left to right): Boston Beer Works and Cisco Brewers

Slow Food Boston brought together the local food vendors at the festival. The food vendors included Don Otto's from Boston's South End, Sherman Market from Somerville, Cuisine en Locale from Cambridge, and Nourish Restaurant from Lexington. For the list of local food vendors, go here.

Samples from Don Otto's

Speakers spoke about craft beer, and panel discussions addressed the local food movement. At the Saturday Session 2 panel, speakers included Jamey Lionette, previous owner of Lionette's Market in Boston, Niaz Dorry, coordinating director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Pete Lowy of Verrill Farm and Pete & Jen's Backyard Birds, and Jennifer Hasley of Pete & Jen's Backyard Birds and director of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project. Topics that were brought up included how the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project helps to connect people with limited resources who have an interest in agrculture to the resources that they need to begin a farm, sustainable fishing, ways to eat more locally and sustainably, and farmers who practice sustainable practices, such as integrated pest management, but are not certified organic.

Slow Foodies at the Slow Food table handing out Slow Food literature and samples of Iggy's bread, When Pigs Fly bread, Bonnie's Jams, and sauerkraut and kimchi from Real Pickles.

SlowFest was a wonderful way to end Earth Week, and a perfect excuse to slow down and enjoy craft beer and local food.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Massachusetts Raw Milk Protest and Hearing

In January, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) sent cease-and-desist orders to four raw milk buying clubs in Massachusetts.

For weeks, citizens anticipated a public hearing on May 10 to discuss the amendments to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) 330 CMR 27, "Standards and Sanitation Requirements for Raw Milk," which would outlaw buying clubs and make it illegal for individuals to entrust another person to purchase raw milk at the farm on their behalf.

However, just 3 days before the hearing, at around 5 pm on Friday, May 7, the MDAR announced that the proposed language related to raw milk purchase in section 27.08, which would make buying clubs illegal, would be removed and unavailable for commentary at the hearing until the MDAR took a "broader look at the issues" due to "passion and concern" on the raw milk debate.

Despite the confusion on whether or not the MDAR had backed off on the new proposed language, last Monday, over 200 citizens, including raw milk enthusiasts, dairy farmers, and Suzanne the cow, gathered on the Boston Common to protest for their right to access raw milk before the hearing at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.

Protesters at the rally marched to the hearing at the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture. In fact, because so many people wished to attend the hearing, some were not given access to attend, hear, see, or participate in the public hearing.

Although certain portions of 330 CMR 27 had been withdrawn, individuals were still allowed to testify about the buying club issue to Commissioner Soares, which many people did.

Over three and a half hours, 49 people testified about their passion for raw milk. Issues raised regarding section 27.08 included benefits of raw milk, the right for individuals to decide what they eat and drink, decreased access to raw milk and increased fossil fuel consumption if each consumer needs to drive long distances to the isolated dairy farms, and the economic impact of individuals losing jobs if buying clubs become outlawed. Some other issues:
  • Pasteurization was invented in 1864 and was not applied to milk until years later. Prior to that, people consumed raw milk for thousands of years.
  • Small dairy farms already go through rigorous inspection to ensure that the raw milk that they produce is safe (read the Massachusetts Raw Milk Laws and Regulations).
  • Although the MDAR states that they support the purchase of local products from local farms, making buying clubs illegal will put many small dairy farmers in Massachusetts out of business.
Numerous raw milk enthusiasts and raw milk dairy farmers testified, and some familiar faces included Mark McAfee from Organic Pastures in California, Max Kane from Wisconsin, and David Gumpert, author of the Raw Milk Revolution and The Complete Patient.

While some individuals stated that the regulations should go back to as they were so that the buying clubs can still operate, others argued that raw milk should be made even more accessible.

In some states of the U.S., such as California, raw milk can be sold in retail stores. In other states, any sales of raw milk are considered illegal. In Massachusetts, raw milk can only be sold at the dairy farm. Check out this map. Meanwhile, in Europe, there are even raw milk vending machines.

After listening to the numerous testimonials in support of raw milk, Commissioner Soares stated that a decision would be made within 30 days, and that many of the testimonials made regarding the buying clubs would be "more applicable" at future hearings on the raw milk debate as the MDAR continues to take its "broader look" into raw milk.

In the meantime, the cease-and-desist orders still haven't been withdrawn, the buying clubs are still not allowed to operate, and small dairy farmers continue to lose money daily.

Related coverage:

More Info on Raw Milk in Massachusetts:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Massachusetts Raw Milk Hearing

*IMPORTANT UPDATE: May 8, 2010* (see below).

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is holding a hearing on Monday, May 10th to review a proposal that threatens Raw Milk Buying Clubs and the access to raw milk in Massachusetts.

What can you do? Become more informed about the issue by visiting some of the links below, contact your local representative, write to Commissioner Scott J. Soares, Department of Agricultural Resources, 251 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 02114, and attend the raw milk hearing on Monday, May 10th, at 10 am at 100 Cambridge St., Conference Room A, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA, 02114.

*IMPORTANT UPDATE: May 8, 2010*:

"MDAR Drops Proposed Raw Milk Language in Favor of 'Broader Look' at Raw Milk. Marketing Agency cites 'passion and concern' associated with the issue." Read more info here and read David Gumpert's opinion on this update.

Nevertheless, the hearing will go on as scheduled (Monday, May 10th, 10 am at 100 Cambridge St., Boston), but certain provisions won't be discussed.

In addition, the Raw Milk Drink-In demonstration will still be held this Monday, May 10th, at 8:30 am on the Boston Commons near the Park St. T Station. (More info in this comment and on Facebook). Be there!