Boston Food Swap recently chatted with Jessie about why local food matters, what Locally offers, and how to incorporate local food into your cookie baking. Here's an excerpt of that conversation.
Jessie: Food has been a part of my life since I graduated from college. Since I started having to cook for myself, it was really important to me that I find the best and the most healthful foods. I got really interested in where our food was coming from. The more I researched, the more that I found that eating locally from sustainable producers was really more in keeping with the spirit that I was looking for than eating organic. To me, it tastes better. It’s more healthful because it hasn’t had to travel for so long. Vegetables, in particular, lose a lot of their nutrients in transport and it’s just a simple math equation. The less time they are out of the ground before they get to your plate, the more nutrients they have.
Then you have all of these issues like local economy. That’s a lot of what we’re trying to focus on: making sure that the dollar is spent on food coming within a local economy, and how that can impact communities. There’s a lot of fuel and a lot of resources being expended to move foods thousands of miles when it’s just not necessary.
Tell us more about Locally and how it works.
We’re in the very early stage of the company, and it’s changing all the time. We’re an online farmer’s market so we’re making inventory from farmers or artisans that provide our food available online to different communities around Boston. We deliver to people’s homes, their offices or what we’ve termed community pick-up locations. These can be a place of worship, a school, retail stores that want to this element as part of their neighborhood, any place that’s central to a community.
Is it just produce or is it other locally produced items as well?
No, it’s essentially anything that you could expect to find at a current farmer’s market. What we’re trying to replicate, ultimately, is the grocery story experience but with everything local. We spent the summer bringing on partners who would fulfill our needs for a perimeter of the grocery store, so all of your fresh foods. That’s your produce, your fruits and veggies, meat. Now we're doing the middle aisle of the store with pasta, candied yams, granola. The idea is that ultimately somebody this year will do probably 80 to 90 percent of their shopping with us.
We’re the same probably only in the respect that our food is local. We define local somewhat broadly, which is 300-400 miles that you could travel in one day, is what I’ve generally seen out there. Most of our products come from Massachusetts, probably within 70-100 miles of Boston.
We’re different from a CSA in that there is no upfront commitment, and there’s no requirement for purchase. People can buy what they want, when they want, in the quantities that they want.
With the Cookie Swap coming up, how can bakers incorporate local food into their cookies?
It’s a great question because I think that some of the elements that go into baking tend to fall by the wayside. But there are farms in Massachusetts that are starting to grow their own grain. I have a baking cookbook at home that’s really fantastic called Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich and she basically incorporates almost every type of flour or grain. She really turns a lot of the ingredients on their heads.
I think squashes and pumpkins are always a good addition to desserts. I like warm, mellow and a little savory dessert, and so it’s great to use some of the sweeter squashes and pumpkins in a recipe. I just read about incorporating beets into a chocolate cake recipe to make it nice and moist.
Do you have a favorite cookie recipe or a favorite type of cookie?
It's a peanut butter cookie with toffee, and then I make salted caramel and drizzle it over. Anything that has caramel is probably going to get me, and anything with chocolate or peanut butter. I’ve always loved those, the really old-fashioned peanut butter cookies where you can put a Hershey kiss on top. I also really like the jumble cookies that has everything that we have in the cupboard. Those are awesome!
Is there anything else that you’d like readers to know?
One of the things that it would be great to see is not only people eating more locally, but also getting more out of the produce when it’s in season. I would actually love to learn more from your swappers about canning and freezing and those other techniques because I’m just starting to get into it myself. If anybody has any advice to give, please come up and talk to me about it at the cookie swap.
Photos courtesy of Jessie Angell / Locally
Photos courtesy of Jessie Angell / Locally