Tony Dobrowolski: Food for thought in spring
Given some of the weather that we had at the end of last week, it may not have seemed like spring. But spring is definitely here.
April is what I call a ‘tweener month. The calendar may say spring, but the weather is completely unpredictable, which really is about what we should expect. April is like a bridge between winter and warmth. Everything is in transition.
In sports, pro hockey and basketball are holding their playoffs at the same time that baseball season starts up. Pucks, pivots or pine tar. Take your pick. One season ending, the other beginning.
Under these conditions, cold weather followed by hot weather followed by cold weather is the norm not the exception. In my opinion, it’s all the monkeying around with the environment we’ve done that makes our typical April weather more extreme.
Spring is also when we begin to think about locally grown food, and farmers markets. In the Berkshires, the local farm-to-table movement keeps getting stronger every year. You can tell there’s a lot of interest when Berkshire Grown holds a networking event in February, and 55 local food growers, buyers and food producers show up on a weekday afternoon when it snows.
A group of Berkshire food entrepreneurs have embarked on a new venture. They’ve banded together to sell their wares at a new eatery that will open on Wednesday inside Boston’s Logan International Airport.
The Berkshire Farms Market is a partnership between Berkshire Grown and another local food-to-table organization, Berkshire Farm & Table. The two groups have been working on their project for nine months.
The 1,200 square foot market, located in the new United Airlines Terminal B, will feature foods that were grown and created in the Northeast. Products from 15 Berkshire-based food makers will be sold at the store, while four other local entities will be providing regional products. Cookbooks and other written materials by Berkshire authors will also be available.
Local food makers hope the new store will boost the Berkshires locally grown food movement in other parts of the state.
"We look forward to this having a positive impact, not only on our growing business, but for other farmers in the Berkshires," said Beth Phelps, the owner of Sweet Brook Farm in Williamstown, which will be supplying food to the new store.
The market is run by California-based Tastes on the Fly Restaurant Group, which specializes in bringing outposts of local dining establishments to airports. It will be based on a similar eatery that Taste on the Fly operates in San Francisco International Airport, a 5,000-square-foot establishment called the "Napa Farms Market."
Founded in 1999, Taste on the Fly has $50 million in annual revenue, according to its website. The company also operates eateries in New York City’s JFK Airport and Denver International Airport in addition to Boston and San Francisco.
These are interesting times for the Berkshire brand. Berkshire Bank became one of the lead sponsors of Boston Bruins games on the New England Sports Network this year, which spread the bank’s name regionally. The Berkshire Visitors Bureau and Berkshire Farm & Table are launching "Taste Berkshires" an initiative aimed at marketing the Berkshires as a year-round destination for food experiences.
Culinary tourism, also known as food tourism, is a $52 billion industry in the U.S. alone, according to the World Food Trade Association. Excuse the pun, but it would be nice if the Berkshires could get a piece of that pie. Spreading the food gospel outside the Berkshires with a restaurant in an international airport is a start.
Speaking internationally, a Berkshire-based business is being recognized for its global trade efforts for the second time in three years.
Interprint Inc. of Pittsfield, which designs and prints decor patterns, is one of three state businesses that were selected as the winners of the 2014 Associated Industries of Massachusetts’ International Business Council Global Trade Awards.
Jane Iredale Mineral Cosmetics of Great Barrington received a global trade award from AIM in 2012.
Interprint was awarded the Ambassador’s Award, which it will receive at AIM’s annual meeting on May 9 in Waltham.
The other state companies selected by AIM are Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., of Lakeville/Middleboro, which will receive the Chairman’s Award; and V.H. Blackinton & Co. Inc. of Attleboro Falls, the world’s largest manufacturer of metal badges and uniform insignia, which will receive the Diplomat’s Award.
Tony Dobrowolski is the business editor of The Berkshire Eagle. He can be reached at TDobrowolski@ berkshireeagle.com.