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Eat Local Challenge

Are any of you Boston 'hounds participating in the Eat Local Challenge for September?

I know plenty of places to find my produce around town, but I'm still looking for better sources for local kitchen staples, pasta, chicken, pork, and dairy, to name a few. What farms and brands are on everyone's foodshed list? I know there must be good places in the South End and North End, but I don't know where they are.

Also, what restaurants are super-dedicated to sourcing local ingredients? You're allowed to make your own rules, and I think I'm going to say one day per week's worth of meals (3) or less don't have to be local, in case I need to eat out with someone, or I really need avocado or citrus, but a restaurant that I can count towards a local meal means one more restaurant meal I can have each week.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. There are some great links on this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/406151

    Oleana in Cambridge is a great restaurant for local food (if you don't mind the price tag!). Also Henrietta's Table in Harvard Sq uses a lot of local produce and lists the farms on the menu.

      1. re: gini

        River Rock Farm has some of the best tasting beef I have eaten. I was a little bit skeptical considering it came frozen when I bought it at the farmers market in harvard square, but it was great.

        1. Grille Zone on Comm Ave at Babcock uses local products and they taste good too.
          Check out the hot dogs from Roxbury and the bottled sodas. They are contenders for best burger plus they use all recycled paper products. Even the wall is made out of recycled materials.

          1. If you want to be really dedicated, you could join a local CSA. My wife and I joined Chestnut Farms (http://www.chestnutfarms.org/) for our meat and eggs - all local grown, grass fed - and have been extremely happy with the quality and selection. They drop off at a number of places in the Boston Metro area. There are others that our friends joined. Check out:

            3 Replies
            1. re: tpapa2

              tpapa2, I started the meat CSA at Chestnut Farms in June, I'm a little on the fence about it. The pork chops are perfection, the lamb wonderful, but the beef I found to be somewhat uneven. Chicken is just chicken to me. I got sausage the first month, but there was an issue with the salt level and we haven't gotten it since. (I'm wondering if that issue has gotten better.)

              I bought eggs at the feed & grain place in Acton when I went to buy dogfood of all things. I figure tons of omlets for the next two weeks, yumm..

              I was hoping to have fresh duck from my friend, but that damn a Fisher Cat killed them. Didn't even have the decency to eat them all, kill a whole bunch and only take one to eat. (The ballooning Fisher Cat population in the exburbs is usually not a problem with the grocery store. All I know is my plans for homemade duck confit for fall are now destroyed.)

              Verrill Farms also has read to eat meals. I'm not sure how much is local vs not, but they are yummy. Nancy's Airfield Cafe in Stow serves dinner on Friday & Saturdays, breakfast/lunch otherwise and they keep local most of the time.

              1. re: stupiddog

                There are places in Chinatown that have live chickens that they'll kill on the spot for you, I wonder if they do ducks.

                Then again, who knows how long those birds have been in what looks like a kennel in there...or where they were raised to begin with.

                If you do 150 miles like I'm planning to, the whole east end of Long Island is game, and they're big on ducks. It's a long trip, but it's a nice visit. Plus there's lots of local wine down there too.

                1. re: stupiddog

                  stupiddog,We've getting meat from Chestnut Farm since about June as well. You're right the lamb and pork products are sensational (and especially the bacon!). I've had good luck with the sausage - both breakfast links and Italian - we've had a lot of house guest this summer who have all glowing scarfed them down. Some of the beef cuts are not your typical grocery store cuts and require some long slow cooking - it makes for interesting cooking. Though have made the wrong call on the long, slow vs. high fast on one or tow occasions. They are nice people who make decent product - I hope you give them another chance in the future. Too bad about the Fisher Cats, just thinking about making confit makes me salivate - call me pavlovsdog.

              2. I love this thread.
                For my husband's birthday back in June I was charged with an entirely local/100-mile-diet dinner, as per his request. A challenge to say the least, but actually quite enjoyable. He was a stickler for accuracy, so even as I was begging for certain "wild cards", he kept me to 100 miles from Boston. Since the meal was actually taking place on the Cape, I extended the reach to be 100 miles from there as well... he complied, but it took some convincing. (My wild cards, for anyone interested, were olive oil, lemons and peppercorns... all denied, and vehemently so.)

                He collected sea water from Vineyard Sound that I boiled down into salt (gathered in a bucket off a dock during the low tide-high tide rush, so as clean as it was ever going to get), which is a really interesting thing to do and I reccommend it to anyone with access to clean seawater, an hour or so to spare. I'm not sure the high-flame natural gas usage required to make about a ramekin's worth of salt is as environmentally-friendly as we intended, but if nothing else we learned how to do it and actually made quite a nice little fleur de sel-type salt that we're still enjoying now. The best part about making salt is the last few seconds of an otherwise uneventful procedure; the water turns this murky, briney, grey color, then begins to thicken, bubble and sputter like a volcano's lava, and then, while you're still a bit in awe of the whole process, Presto Magic!! you have salt. Just amazing. I even had to take a video to prove it, as I was the only one in the house at the time! And although I must admit to being skeptical of the clenliness of our beloved Vineyard Sound, the salt is really clean-tasting and purely white. No off-flavors at all. A miracle!

                Let's see: what else did we have and what other local sources can I pass on? Buzzards Bay Brewery actually grows some of the hops they use for their beers, so they passed the test, while Harpoon and other local brewers did not. Westport Rivers winery had some passable and some delicious wines made from local grapes. Apple cider vinegar from the Shelburne Apple Company in Shelburne MA was our only acid, blended with local cream, Great Hill Blue Cheese, thyme and red scallions for salad dressing. Quohogs and striper (quohogs hand-harvested out in the salt pond behind our house; striper bought from the fishmonger down the road but line-caught in the Sound) were topped with herbs, more red scallions and Mendon Creamery butter, with a little cider vinegar to replace lemon. I made yogurt from local milk, blended it with honey from Allandale Farm, froze it in the ice cream maker and served it with (then in-season) organic strawberries.

                So, all that being said, restaurants committed to local produce are Oleana, Craigie Street, TW Foods, any of Barbara Lynch's places. Other than the farmer's markets, try Lionette's in the SEnd for meats and produce, try Formaggio Kitchen for local cheeses, dairy, produce and dry goods. Try the Wine Gallery for local beers, wines and I even found a Maine potato vodka there (I made a cocktail for the dinner blending the vodka with local honey, lavender, lemon balm and sage from my garden, a bit of the cider vinegar - strange but good - and soda water).

                4 Replies
                1. re: porcospino

                  You made your own salt? You might be my new hero. What a great story.

                  1. re: smtucker

                    I got instructions from someone's 100-mile-diet blog. Oh, InterWeb, what a wonderful resource you are!

                  2. re: porcospino

                    Though I thoroughly support the idea of eating locally, I'm a little appalled about your salt making. Generally eating locally is about reducing carbon footprint, supporting local business, organic farming, etc. Boiling down seawater to make salt on your stove, seems like a rather "carbon producing" act. Could you have evaporated it in the sun as many of the salt makers in France do? It certainly would have taken a lot longer than an hour, but it would not have to be attended.

                    1. re: BikeToEat

                      Of course, with lots of time, the evaporation technique would be better. This was more an experiment than anything else. However, "appalled" is a bit harsh. It was neat, and while I don't think I'd do it again, I'm certainly glad I tried it. My other local purchases and foraged goods more than made up for the carbon I expended to make the salt.

                  3. ...and one other thing. Grey's Grist Mill out of Rhode Island mills Johnnycake Meal, which is essential to the 100-mile diet regime in this area as it is the only bread-type flour locally-grown. I made the classic Johhnycakes, and they were delicious, but as the dinner was in June I did not have access to local sweet corn which make them that much better. Actually, I think sticking to strictly local in the month of September would be fairly easy, tho' I'd miss olive oil something fierce. Make sure your rules include it! (...and pepper, for that matter.)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: porcospino

                      Where does King Arthur get their grain from? Is it not local?

                      (and all this time, I thought I had the flour thing wrapped up..)

                      1. re: katrinkala

                        Not local. Grown in Kansas. But I just read that Borealis Breads in Maine is using Maine-grown wheat now. Their website should give more info about where to buy it: www.borealisbreads.com

                    2. As reported on the linked thread, local chicken and eggs at Chip-In Farm in Bedford. They also carry local milk and ice cream from Shaw Farm in Dracut. They're much cheaper than Wilson Farms.

                      Dave's Fresh Pasta also carries Chip-In eggs, but at about twice the price that they charge at the farm.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: DavisSquare

                        Russo's also carries Chip-In eggs, as well as milk and cream from Whittier Farms.

                      2. What's our mile limit, pleases/ Whole Foods often counts all of New England as local...;)

                        Also, is there a link to this challenge?

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: galleygirl

                          Personally, I'm going for 150 miles, and if something I need isn't produced/grown that close, than all of New England (which only adds the top of VT and NH, north of about Montpelier, and Maine north of about Augusta...which is a lot of Maine.) For example, the Maine sea salt is produced beyond 150 miles, but no one else does salt closer than that, and I don't know if I want to haul jugs of water home from Revere Beach :o)

                          1. re: katrinkala

                            So, it's everything from Vermont Butter and Cheese Co., in websterville, thondairy is pretty easy...Still, that's accessible even when the farmers' markets aren't open...

                          2. re: galleygirl

                            There's this one: http://www.eatlocalchallenge.com/ which chronicles how people are eating locally throughout the country. And this one: http://100milediet.org/.

                            1. re: gini

                              That part of my post disappeared! I wasn't ignoring that part of the question...I had a link to the September guidelines post:


                              To sign up and be counted, here's the website for the original San Francisco Locavores, who co-sponsor the project:

                              (I'll tell you, it's a lot easier to do a 100-mile diet in California...)

                          3. Thanks for all your suggestions, guys...your interest is making me get excited!

                            One thing I just thought of, what can I make cereal or granola out of? Are there any oats for oatmeal around? Otherwise, I'm going to get awfully tired of eggs and yogurt for breakfast..

                            1. While browsing restaurant websites today I discovered that T.W. Food is doing an "all New England" menu every Wednesday. I have never been to T.W. Food, but I thought you might be interested.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: LauraB

                                I saw that as well. It caught my eye because it has chocolate on it. Not much growing in New England.

                                1. re: vinovino

                                  Taza chocolate is produced in Somerville although the cacao clearly comes from elsewhere; likely Mexico and/or the DR according to taza's website. I guess it depends on what "local" means to you.

                              2. Folks, we're starting to veer away from the goal of this board- to share tips on where to find chow in the Boston area. We've moved a few off topic digressions, which you can find at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/438427 and http://www.chowhound.com/topics/438423