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Margaret and Family In June, my family packed our mini-van -- two tents, one cooler, one book box, three kids, and two parents -- and set off across the country. I'd like to tell you some of what I learned about food in six weeks and 8,500 miles.  


Food was not the focus of our trip. We planned to visit friends and family, sites that figured in family history and places we had never been before. We relaxed many of our family food conventions ("Cheerios!" the kids crowed). Our camp cooking repertoire turned out to rely heavily on pasta, burritos made with canned beans, and hamburgers (local and grass-fed, thanks to a route weighted towards the mountain west, California, and Oregon). We left behind our gardens, our farm animals, and the network of Valley farmers that provide us with much of the food that we eat every day here at home. Inevitably, we noticed their absence, and paid attention to the glimpses we saw of both industrial and local food across the country.  


We had an unexpected crash course in American meat processing, experiencing its promotional arm (a visit to Hormel Foods' SPAM Museum, where they play the Monty Python SPAM skit on continuous loop, and the nearby slaughterhouse processes 20,000 hogs each day) and a tiny slice of the lives of its workers (a taqueria dinner in a lake-front Minnesota town whose downtown businesses all serve the Asian and Latin American workers at the town's Swift plant). We even got a taste of the historical roots of the income disparity in American meat packing, passing the enormous estates of early meat packing barons north of Chicago.   


We loved seeing examples of the local foods that aren't local here: sacks of heirloom varieties of chick peas, cheese curds, and farm-raised buffalo. We ate pounds of cherries every day, stopping at farm stands at highway exits, and amassing little piles of pits on the floor of the car. In Milwaukee, we visited urban greenhouses, and in Portland, Oregon, the Food Front Co-op printed the total value of our local purchases on our receipt.  


But it turns out that our day-to-day pleasure in eating local comes not only from the food itself, but from knowing the people and the land that grew it. We drove through state after state experiencing drought conditions --but it's here at home that we run into a neighbor and farmer at the local creamee at 10 pm on a Friday night, grabbing a milkshake in between moving irrigation pipe. Here, we can judge the summer's weather by the stage of the crops in the fields we pass, and hear about a new pregnancy when we stop to pick up peaches. It was nice to visit (and sample!) other people's local food, but it's great to be home.


Margaret Christie

Special Projects Director 




Photo by Paul Shoul
Great Local Food, Giveways, (And No Dishes): Local Hero Restaurant Days 

On Tuesday, August 21st and Wednesday, August 22nd, participating Local Hero restaurants will highlight dishes featuring locally grown products. Show your support for local agriculture and great food by dining out at one of the 51 participating Local Hero restaurants! Not only will you get a tasty meal, but Restaurant Days diners can sign up for a drawing to win a Enterprise Farm Fall Harvest share, or share your experience on Facebook for more giveaway opportunities!


Taste the View: A Local Harvest Dinner and Auction to Benefit CISA

CISA's local harvest dinner and auction, Taste the View, is coming right up: Friday, September 14th, at Quonquont Farm in Whately. Only 200 tickets are available for this year's event, so be sure to get your tickets early and save your seat at the table! The evening will be filled with delicious local food provided by The Lone Wolf and the chance to bid on local items, dinners, and weekend getaways. But best of all, we will celebrate the beauty and the bounty of our local farms with you. Purchase tickets now.


Volunteer with CISA at upcoming Fall Festivals and Fundraisers
We are looking for event volunteers for two exciting events in September: our annual dinner, Taste the View, and Northampton Brewery's 25th Anniversary Octoberfest celebration to benefit CISA. We are also seeking outreach volunteers to represent CISA at community events, including Red Fire Farm's fantastic Tomato Festival. Visit our volunteer web page to learn how you can work with us to support local food and agriculture. Thank you!


Upcoming CISA Workshops

In partnership with the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program, we'll offer a Renewable Heating Workshop on September 19th at Red Fire Farm in Montague. In addition, CISA's Women in Agriculture Network offers "Protecting Your Working Body from Injury" on Thursday, August 23rd, 6-9 pm in Amherst and "Farm Equipment Maintenance & Troubleshooting," a 2-part series, on September 6th and 13th. Full descriptions and registration information are here.


New CISA Resource for Farmers and Food Businesses

We've substantially revised and updated our Marketing 101 Manual, which covers branding, marketing strategies, and much more!


Last Chance to Give Us Some Quick Feedback

Publication of CISA's Locally Grown: Farm Products Guide is a big project each spring. This year, we printed 75,000 copies. We'd love to know what you like about it, and how you think it could be improved. Please take our short survey, and we'll enter you in a drawing for a CISA hat or water bottle.

Local Hero Restaurant
Photo by Paul Shoul


To whet your appetite for Restaurant Days, we've posted new profiles of several Local Hero restaurants: BridgeSide Grille, Esselon Cafe, Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, Hungry Ghost Bread, and Jakes.


Farms and Food in the News

Visit our Local Heroes in the News page to read about how this summer's weather has impacted famers, and find articles about Seeds of Solidarity, Diemand Farm, Real Pickles, and UMass' new Agriculture Learning Center.


Watch CISA staffer Devon Whitney-Deal and cookbook author Deanna Cook make fish tacos and corn salsa, or listen to recent interviews with Bridgeside Grille and Kosinski Farm in our Press Room.

Visit CISA's events calendar for a full listing of festivals as well as workshops, forums, films, and more. Here is just a small sample of what you'll find on our website.  


The Northeast Organic Farmers' Association's Summer Conference includes dozens of workshops, films, panels, and activities for all ages. Friday-Sunday, August 10-12, UMass, Amherst.  


Seeds of Solidarity's Grow Food at Schools workshop features school garden and greenhouse techniques, curriculum connections, and service learning, Wednesday August 15, 1-4 pm, Orange. Appropriate for teachers, parents, school administrators, food service staff.


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Phone: (413) 665-7100  



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