Why I support labeling genetically modified food products

This blog presents the viewpoint of the author, not necessarily the members of Grow Food Amherst nor the GFA Steering Committee (which voted unanimously on April 15, 2014 to support the bill requiring GMO products to be labeled in Massachusetts).  GFA asks you to contact your legislators to ask them to support the Right to Know Legislation.  I write about why I am personally in favor of this legislation below.   Warning: if you are looking for “bumper sticker” solutions don’t bother reading further…. its complicated!

John M. Gerber


Many of the advocates of labeling genetically modified products cite potential health and environmental risks as the reasons for labeling GMO products.  Personally, I’m not convinced by these arguments.  I believe there are cases where genetic modification has value, such with cotton where the incorporation of a gene to use the Bacillus thuringeinsis protein to ward off bollworms has reduced insecticide use in growing of cotton.  In other cases, genetic modification has increased the use of herbicides such as for glyphosate resistant soybeans and corn.  I’d like to know that we can continue to use this technology to produce low cost insulin for diabetics for example, and hopefully someday to clean up toxic waste spills with modified microorganisms.  I believe there are appropriate uses for GMO products.  And I think they should be labeled as a product created through genetic modification.  This makes me unpopular with both sides of this very divisive issue.

GMO-TomatoFrankly, I’m not attracted by the “Chicken Little” cry that the sky is falling whenever GMO’s are discussed.  Nor am I convinced by graphic images of tomatoes being shot up with a syringe (although I’m not above incorporating such images into my blog posts for a little color).  As a technique, genetic modification is not evil or immoral – in my opinion.  Nevertheless I do understand and respect the viewpoint that incorporating genes from one species of higher (complex) organisms into another is bit of “playing God” and something that would not happen in the world without human intervention.  I’m much more comfortable when genetic modification happens at the microbial level (bacteria pretty much share genes indiscriminately in nature – they are promiscuous little creatures).

There are indeed many shrill voices ranting about the evils of GMO’s.  It seems to me that many who are the most vocal don’t seem to be very well informed about the science of genetic modification.  We are told that consumers have a right to know “what is in their food” and that “food additives” should all be labeled.  This oft repeated claim suggests that the claimant thinks that a GMO is an ingredient rather than a process.

To help inform the local public, Grow Food Amherst sponsored an educational forum featuring UMass Professor Elizabeth Vierling who tried to help Amherst residents learn more about the science of genetic modification.  Dr. Vierling has expressed her own opinion on labeling in a thoughtful editorial in the local paper. I’d encourage you to read the article.

There are also some pretty smart people who have specific concerns about the widespread adoption of GMO crops and livestock.  Among the concerns are:

gmo-23-638 I think these concerns need to be evaluated by independent (non-industry funded) science panels and debated in a public forum. I don’t believe there is adequate regulatory control or review of products created through genetic modification.  At present, I do not trust that either industry or government scientific panels can be objective.  There is simply too much money involved in politics and government today to trust the agencies that are meant to protect the public interest.

While the criticisms listed above should be discussed, they are not my primary concern……

So why Label? 

frankMy primary motivation for supporting the labeling law is to make sure that consumers have the information needed to support either a world in which multi-national corporations own patents which allow them to control the food supply – or one in which there is more balance in power and control of food.  I’ve been told by some of my “organic advocate” friends that this reason is boring – a real yawner!  They would rather talk about “frankenfoods”!  Sorry…. until, I see scientific evidence to change my mind, I remain more concerned about the erosion of the economic vitality of local communities and social justice than potential health or environmental threats from GMO’s.

I believe in giving citizens the opportunity to choose the kind of world we want to live in and “vote with their dollar”.  Every time we purchase food produced through genetic modification, we “say yes” to an industry that is controlled by multi-nationals more interested in profit than community.  I’d prefer to invest in the wisdom of my neighborhood farmer and her ability to manage her farm using ecological principles than in a technology for which the return on investment goes to a corporation. We have a choice when it comes to food.  We can buy local…..

On the other hand, since there are few alternatives in clothing manufacturing today I support the use of GMO cotton as a means of reducing insecticide use.  If my Boston Red Sox tee shirt (go Sox) was labeled “made with GMO cotton”…. well, I’m (mostly) okay with that.  I don’t like it, but frankly I don’t see many reasonable alternatives.

gmotomatoOn the other hand, if I have a choice between a genetically modified fresh tomato and one that was not, I’m choosing to buy the non-GMO tomato.  It seems that most consumers would agree with me on this, as the transgenic tomato (FlavrSavr) which had a long shelf-life was not very popular when it was available in the market.  Again…. the point is that I want enough information to make a choice.  We need labeling to be able to choose.


So…. if you have read this far, perhaps you are open to another viewpoint?  This will require some thinking……  that said, I can’t help myself… here is a possible bumper sticker that expresses the next section of this blog;

We shape our tools and then our tools shape us…

Marshal McLuhan



While I was drawing up the courage to begin to express my thoughts on this subject, I read Derrick Jensen’s new book “The Myth of Human Supremacy.”  While I don’t agree with all of Jensen’s thinking, his chapter on “authoritarian technologies” will be used here to help explain my own perspective.  Jensen reminds us of an idea first expressed by Louis Mumford (historian, philosopher, literary critic and all around genius) that technologies emerge from and reinforce certain ways of thinking.  Jensen writes…

“Technologies emerge from and then give rise to certain social forms…. which can be democratic or they can be authoritarian.” 

He claimed that you could determine which social form (way of thinking) was supported by the technology by asking the simple questions “does the technology require a large-scale hierarchical structure?  Does it reinforce this structure?  Does it lend itself to the monopolization of the technology, and therefore to control of those who fabricate the technology over those who use it?”

I can say that I have a personal preference for technologies, products and practices that emerge from and reinforce egalitarian and democratic social forms.  I’m on record (lots of blog posts here) in support of local farmers and local farmers markets as a means of building community and resilience.  Genetic modification on the other hand surely requires a large-scale hierarchical structure, and has resulted in the monopolization (wide-spread adoption) of the technology.  Frankly, this scares the hell out of me……


So, yes…. I think we need the option of making a choice.  I’d like to be able to choose to purchase a Red Sox tee shirt with the label “made from GMO cotton”…. and I’d like to be able to choose to buy a tomato for my salad that was not genetically modified.  I prefer to support technologies in which the return on investment in the practice or technology went to farmers rather than corporations.  Labeling food products manufactured with plants or animals that have been genetically modified (that is incorporating genes from one species into another species) is much like Country of Origin labels.  It will allow us to choose how we want to spend our money.

But that’s just me……

How about you?  I’d love to hear what you think about this issue.  Please share your thoughts in the comments box below!

A Bad Effort in Congress to Thwart States on Food Labels

The Senate could soon join the House to try to make it harder for consumers to know what is in their food by prohibiting state governments from requiring the labeling of genetically modified foods. This is a bad idea that lawmakers and the Obama administration should oppose.

25thu3web-superJumboIn July, Vermont will become the first state to require the labeling of genetically modified food. Many food companies and farm groups say such laws are problematic because they could dissuade consumers from buying foods that federal regulators and many scientists say pose no risk to human health. But that is an unfounded fear and states should be free to require labels if they want to.

The Senate Agriculture Committee is considering a bill by its chairman, Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, that would prohibit state labeling laws. The committee is likely to approve it, primarily with Republican votes. The House passed a similar bill last summer along party lines.

There is no harm in providing consumers more information about their food. A study published in the journal Food Policy in 2014 found that labels about genetic modification did not influence what people thought about those foods. Some companies are deciding on their own to increase the information they provide to consumers without fear of losing sales. Campbell Soup said last month that it would begin voluntarily disclosing whether its soups, juices and other products had genetically modified ingredients. Around the world, such labeling is commonplace, with 64 countries requiring it, including all 28 members of the European Union, Japan, Australia, China and Brazil.

Various polls have found that about 90 percent of Americans favor mandatory labels for genetically modified foods. Several states are or have considered labeling laws. Connecticut and Maine have passed laws that would require labeling when nearby states adopt similar legislation. Efforts to require labeling in California and Washington State have been defeated by aggressive campaigns by the food industry.

Usually, Republicans in Congress are eager to give states more power to set policy in areas like environmental protection, health care and social services when they think that legislatures and governors will weaken regulations or cut spending to help the poor. In this case, however, they want to take power away from states that want to impose new rules that their residents support. The only thing these lawmakers seem to favor consistently is protecting corporate interests.


Grow Food Amherst supports the GMO Labeling Law in Massachusetts, which is currently stuck in committee. See Massachusetts Right to Know.

For our position, see: http://www.growfoodamherst.org/gmo-vote/

And for an alternative viewpoint from one of our members, see:

Do you support the proposed Massachusetts GMO Labeling Law?

Join us to learn about seed saving!

Come out this winter and learn how to grow and save your own seeds with us!

This informal group of your neighbors will be meeting to discuss how to we can grow and save seeds from our own plants, maintain the isolation distances required, decide how many plants are needed, and share our knowledge on harvesting (how do you know when the seeds are ready, etc.) and of course storing seeds for use next year.

We will start by discussing an excellent book on saving seedBreed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener’s and Farmer’s Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving, 2nd ed. by  Carol Deppe

Our textbook!
Our textbook!

If you can read the chapters ahead of time that would be helpful, but not necessary.

We will start with Part II:  Seed Saving Practice;

  • Chapter 16 (Introduction to Seed Saving)
  • Chapter 17(Growing Seed) and
  • Chapter 18(Isolation)

… for the first week (Wednesday, January 13; 7:00-8:00pm)

As long as there is interest, we will continue meeting in the First Floor Meeting Room of the Amherst Town Hall (comfortable chairs) on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday evenings from 7:00-8:00pm throughout January and February.  The dates are:

  1. January 13
  2. January 27
  3. February 2
  4. February 24

Please plan to join us and BRING A FRIEND!

If you choose to buy the book, here are some places to get it:

If you are not on the email list to get updates about this group, please contact John Gerber and request to be on the Amherst Saves Seeds listserve.


Grow Food Amherst is working to create a more resilient community by encouraging residents of Amherst and the surrounding towns to grow and buy healthy and affordable food locally. 

Public Invited to a Community Information Session on Solar in Amherst

solarpicAmherst residents are encouraged to attend an information session regarding a preliminary proposal for a solar program in Amherst on Wednesday, September 16th at 7 PM in the Amherst Regional Middle School auditorium.

Town Manager John Musante met with staff and renewable energy experts over the past several months to investigate potential sites throughout town. “We examined roof top solar as well as other sites and were advised that the Town’s best opportunity for solar exists at both the new and old landfill locations. We would like to work with the community to develop a project that will meet the needs of the Town and respect concerns of abutters.”

Several communities in Western Massachusetts have installed solar landfill projects or are in the process of doing so. Most recently, Northampton announced their plans to move forward with construction of a 3.3 megawatt solar array on the former Glendale Road landfill. “Given the overwhelming response to the Solarize MA program, Select Board’s interest in solar and Town Meeting support of a solar project we feel that it is time to move forward,” said Musante. “Our best opportunity to move Amherst in the direction of greater energy independence and greater environmental responsibility lies in solar.”

Community members are invited to bring both their questions and concerns to the meeting on September 16th. “It is our hope that we can have a meaningful and productive conversation about a potential project and would like to hear from community members as to how we can make this work,” stated Sustainability Coordinator, Stephanie Ciccarello. “The Town is in the preliminary stages of developing a project. Input from a series of community conversations will develop Amherst’s best solar opportunities.”

The community session scheduled for the 16th will be moderated by Ms. Ciccarello and include a presentation by Barrett LaChance of Sun Edison. The Town is working with both Sun Edison and Power Options, the state’s leading nonprofit energy buying consortium. Meg Lusardi, former Director of the Green Communities Division and acting Commissioner of the MA Department of Energy Resources currently serves as Power Options Executive Director and is an expert in assisting communities with their energy needs.

For more information, please contact Stephanie Ciccarello, Sustainability Coordinator, at ciccarellos@amherstma.gov or via telephone at (413) 259-3149.

My “10% for the Bees”

Following the success of Amherst Bee Week this past spring, Grow Food Amherst sponsored an effort to “leave 10% for the bees”!  An earlier post explains it all…. please see:

The Ten Percent Campaign

Based on conversations with friends and neighbors, it seems that lots of folks “get it” and are happy to not mow part of their lawn for the bees.  Here is an example!

tenpercentmidSince I have a relatively big back yard, my 10% was substantial.  I tilled up a part of the yard that was nothing but lawn and seeded a wildflower seed mix.


After about 6 weeks it has filled in nicely with meadow grass and lots of flowers!


There is milkweed for the Monarchs too!  In the fall, I intend to mow it all (setting the mower blade high) to scatter the seeds and continue to reseed the wildflowers.

Here are a few pictures from the “other 90%” of my garden….






Do you support the proposed Massachusetts GMO Labeling Law?

BACKGROUND NOTE:  UMass Professor, Dr. Elizabeth Vierling gave a presentation on the science of genetic modification for Grow Food Amherst on April 15, 2014 in the Amherst Town Hall.  She is an accomplished educator, dedicated to helping the public understand the complexities of genetic modification. The Grow Food Amherst Steering Committee has voted for Massachusetts legislation in support of the public right to know how their food is created by requiring GMO labeling.  Please read the following article and share your own thoughts in the comments box below.

Do you support the proposed Massachusetts GMO Labeling Law?


By ELIZABETH VIERLING; Tuesday, May 5, 2015

AMHERST — As a career educator, when I hear questions about “genetically engineered” plants (GMOs), I recognize how complex the issues are — and how difficult it is to sort out what our concerns should be.

One is labeling. We can go to the grocery store, and increasingly to restaurants, and find information about the nutritional content (or lack thereof!) in the food we buy. This information includes specific quantities of carbohydrates (sugars, starches and fiber), fats (oils), protein, vitamins, minerals, calories and serving sizes, as well as other information (e.g. additive content) as regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration.

People are calling for information about whether a product contains ingredients derived from a GMO. Will that label really provide information important to us as consumers and citizens?

There are at least two major reasons to want the “GMO” label. One reason is to enable individuals to make the choice to avoid buying products they feel support the crop monoculture and seed monopolies considered to be corporate-controlled agriculture. This “Big Ag” can be viewed as the driver of a variety of social and economic ills, although where blame lies is tied up in the agricultural economics of farm subsidies, world trade, food supply and other complex issues.

From this perspective, choosing not to purchase GMO-containing foods as the “socially responsible” choice would be similar to why many of us try to avoid buying products from any company we presume exploits its employees, damages the environment, or otherwise counters values we may view as critical to human health and the future of our planet.

What’s in a label?

However, if this is a major motivation, the GMO label alone does not serve the purpose, as corporate agriculture produces much more than the corn and soybeans that are the primary GMO crops in our food chain today. (There are minor amounts of GMO alfalfa used as hay, and sugar beets produced for sugar). Contrary to what many think, no wheat, rice, potatoes, peanuts, fruits (with the exception of Hawaiian papayas), or other major component of our diet comes directly from GMO plants.

Thus, foods with the GMO label would identify only a part of “Big Ag” products. It is difficult to know if avoiding such products would limit the reach of “Big Ag” without also damaging other sectors of the farm economy.

Of course, another major reason to want the GMO label relates to health. Although major medical and science groups, includes virtually all of the oldest and most respected scientific organizations in the world, have deemed current GMOs safe, doubt remains.

Here it becomes important to consider what makes a GMO a GMO. Take GMO soybeans. Soybeans have been engineered to have a tolerance to herbicides, one being the infamous “Roundup” produced by Monsanto.

What change was needed to make soybeans herbicide resistant? It involved modification of a single protein, one already found in plants, and one that you have eaten every time you have eaten a plant. We know proteins are important in our daily diets, but perhaps do not know that proteins are made from strings of amino acids. To make a soybean plant resistant to Roundup, scientists changed two out of the approximately 500 amino acids of one protein (called “EPSP synthase”) found in all plants so that it could still do its job for the plant, even in the face of Roundup.

Soybeans and other plants contain thousands of proteins, and therefore hundreds of thousands of amino acids. Changing only two amino acids was required to make an herbicide-resistant plant. This is amazing — that such a small change can have this effect. The compositional difference between a GMO soybean and a non-GMO soybean is so tiny that there are more differences among different varieties of soybeans than between a GMO soybean and its non-GMO parent.

In terms of labeling, the GMO content of the GMO soybean is this one protein. Because there are so many proteins in soybeans and other plants, the GMO protein comprises less than 1 percent of all the protein in the soybean. So if you eat pure soybean protein, it is very likely that much less than 1 percent of what you are eating is a genetically modified protein.

What if you buy soybean oil from a GMO plant or something made with soybean oil? If you read the current label on any soybean oil and look for the amount of protein, you will find the number “zero”. Oils produced from plants do not contain protein, or contain so little, it is not even measurable. This means that foods containing soybean oil (or for that matter corn oil) do not contain any GMO ingredients.

Do we need to avoid high fructose corn syrup from GMO corn? The nutritional label on corn syrup will also say zero protein. We may want to avoid high fructose corn syrup for lots of reasons, but it won’t contain GMO protein. If the health effects come from the genetic modification, which is the introduced protein, then the label should specify how much of the genetically modified protein is present, just as labels now specify how much protein, carbohydrate, oil, or additives are present in food. Should soybean oil be labeled GMO if it actually contains none of the GMO ingredient? Should products made with corn oil or high fructose corn syrup be labeled GMO when they contain none of the GMO ingredient?

Limits of labels

If we want to know what we are eating, a label that indicates a product came from a GMO source does not really tell us much and can be misleading. Do we want our labels to correctly indicate GMO content? If so, then each product should be tested and the percentage of GMO ingredient actually listed. Only then could we actually know what the GMO label would mean.

I do not think it makes sense to label foods as GMO for reasons of avoiding products of “Big Ag.” Our current system of agriculture needs an overhaul to achieve sustainability, and GMOs are not the major culprit here, as the system was broken and unsustainable before the first commercial GMO field was planted in 1996.

In fact, the “right” GMOs, with pathogen resistance or drought tolerance, water or nitrogen use efficiency, could be one part, though in no way all of the solution.

Yes, all GMOs need to be regulated and tested, as each GMO is different. We no longer casually introduce non-native plants to solve our erosion problems, and we monitor our borders for the hitchhiking seed, insect or pathogen.

So assessment of each GMO remains essential. It is, however, a tragedy that the public perception of GMOs is so negative, when the potential is there to add one more tool towards improvements in agriculture.

Achieving sustainable agriculture is an important goal for the world, and not enough funding is devoted to research and training towards achieving this end.

We need more fun runs, walk-a-thons and nonprofits supporting this type of research, not to mention federal investment. It is ironic that so many of us donate to efforts to conquer disease, when without a sustainable food supply, disease will be the last of our concerns.

Elizabeth Vierling is a distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has followed the development of “transgenic plant technology” (how GMOs are made) from its inception during her graduate school years and uses this technology in federally funded research at UMass. With support from the National Science Foundation, she has given presentations in Amherst and elsewhere on genetic engineering technology.

Source URL:http://www.gazettenet.com/opinion/16779807-95/elizabeth-vierling-will-the-fight-for-gmo-labeling-get-the-job-done

For more information on Dr. Vierling’s work related to GMO plants, see: https://sites.biochem.umass.edu/vierlinglab/genetically-modified-plants/

And for a very thoughtful response, see: http://www.amherstbulletin.com/commentary/17161355-95/richard-s-bogartz-find-another-guinea-pig-for-gmo-food-experiments

And if you want to TAKE ACTION about the proposed labeling law, see:



In Like a Lion … Out Like a Lion?

Submitted to the Daily Hampshire Gazette by Karen Ribeiro; March 29, 2015

karenAs March 2015 comes to a close with the weather report calling for yet more snow, one can easily appreciate the value of weather patterns – and ecosystems – in harmony. So how can people in Western Massachusetts support natural harmony?

There may be countless ways; of them, two are particularly noteworthy. One is to buy locally produced food and goods. Another is to support fair carbon pricing. When we purchase locally produced food and goods we are reducing the diesel miles that food and goods have to travel to get to us, and by supporting fair carbon pricing we ultimately reduce the “externalized” costs that have made it possible to ship and truck and sell food and goods – many produced in the US, transported to a country halfway around the world for packaging, and transported back to the US – thousands of miles for artificially low prices.

atlMarch 30th also marks the one year anniversary of an amazing local store, aptly named All Things Local. This producer cooperative has, in this past year, generated nearly $400,000 of additional revenue for local food and beverage producers and local artisans producing goods from wood and wool and much more (books like my memoir Thirsty: Journaling to Survive, Thrive, and Feel Alive and my Inner Fortune Journal are on sale at All Things Local).

But there’s a hitch. Stores like All Things Local need community members to join the co-op, shop there and, if possible, get involved by lending a few hours of time here and there. People can help amandawith anything from cleaning and organizing to writing copy and sending out e-newsletters. The more people who take that added step of shopping at a store that came to be through a beautiful concerted community effort, the more sustainable our community will be. While All Things Local may not stock some basics like toilet paper, which takes up a lot of space, it is impressive and inspiring to see the array of products available – not to mention the daily Local Cafe’ menu of delicious foods prepared by on-site cafe owner Amanda Wasserman.

So as we think about buying more food and goods locally, we can also think about supporting legislation that would also have a positive impact on local industry development. Fair carbon pricing is an important step toward equitable economic transactions and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

Currently there are two proposed bills for fair carbon pricing: Senator Barrett’s bill, SD285, and Senator Pacheco’s bill, SD1815. Each bill aims to combat climate change and reduce the carbon footprint of the commonwealth by assessing a fee at the first point of entry for all fossil fuels in the state (distributors and sellers but not resellers). To learn more, come to a Climate Action Now general meeting and participate in the carbon breakout group discussion or come to a regional house party (details available at www.climateactionnowma.org)

climateKaren Ribeiro is a Pelham resident who strives to have a greener thumb, and a regional sustainability consultant with www.SustainableValley.US.  Karen is also a founding member of a network of local citizens called “Friends of All Things Local”.  If you would like to join us to advocate for our favorite downtown cooperative market in Amherst, please contact Grow Food Amherst.

Amherst Celebrates National Food Day with Apples!

fooddayIn its fourth year, National Food Day (held annually on October 24th) is an opportunity for people across the nation to celebrate the value and importance of eating fresh, local and healthy food.

During lunchtime on October 24th, students at the Amherst Regional Middle School had the opportunity to sample unique varieties of apples provided by the UMass Cold Spring Orchard.

Johnathan Sivel, Michelle Nikfarjam, and Jessica Maeder from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture assisted Rebecca Fricke (from Grow Food Amherst and District Aide to Representative Ellen Story) distribute the apples and answer students’ questions.

Stockbridge students helped serve the UMass apples
Stockbridge students helped serve the UMass apples

Two of the best quotes from the students during the tasting in the cafeteria were:

This is like apple heaven!


I didn’t know apples could taste this good!”

This was a great opportunity for the students to taste local apple varieties that they don’t typically get from school or the grocery store.  The students and teachers were really appreciative.  Many of them came back for seconds and thirds and were genuinely interested in how the apple textures and tastes were so different. Amherst school teachers and staff also received apple courtesy of Atkins Farms.

2014-10-24 10.40.56

A big thank you goes out to Rebecca Treitley, director of the ARPS Whitsons School Nutrition Program and her crew, led by Diane Tower, who helped Rebecca Fricke wash, set up and clean up the tasting.  Also thanks to Dr. Duane Greene and the staff at Cold Spring Orchard for donating the apples.

Amherst Celebrates National Food Day, October 24th


 In its fourth year, National Food Day (held annually on October 24th) is an opportunity for people across the nation to celebrate the value and importance of eating fresh, local and healthy food. Some of the country’s most prominent food leaders have gathered and envisioned a food system that is just, secure, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, animals and farm workers who grow and harvest it.

During lunchtime on October 24th, students at the Amherst Regional Middle School will have the opportunity to sample unique varieties of apples provided by the Cold Spring Orchard. Students from the UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Program in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture will assist Rebecca Fricke (Grow Food Amherst and District Aide to Representative Ellen Story) distribute the apples and answer students’ questions.  Amherst school teachers and staff will receive apple donations courtesy of Atkins Farms.

In honor of Food Day, Amherst businesses, religious organizations and non-profits are individually hosting or sponsoring events on, and around, October 24th.  The following is a list of events and special offerings:

October 17th – October 30th

Atkins Farms will offer an ‘in-store’ special on MacIntosh apples for 69₵/lb (regularly 99₵/lb).  Located at 1150 West Street.

October 19th – October 26th

The Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst (UUSA) will be running a food drive for the Amherst Survival Center. Non-perishable food donations will be accepted before and after services on the 19th and 26th and during the week from 10 AM – 2 PM.    Located at 121 North Pleasant Street.

Wednesday, October 22nd

In an effort to acknowledge that food insecurity is a real problem for people in our region and across the country, the UUSA will also offer a viewing of A Place at the Table, and an apple dish to share, from 7-9 PM.  This event is open to the public.  Food donations will be accepted.

Friday, October 24th

Leda Scheintaub will do a book reading and signing of her new book, Cultured Foods for Your Kitchen: 100 Recipes Featuring the Bold Flavors of Fermentation from 5 PM – 7 PM at the All Things Local store located at 104 North Pleasant Street.

Atkins Farms will offer a special discount on Atkins Deli’s homemade apple crisp!

The Glazed Doughnut Shop will offer 15% off a cup of hot spiced apple cider! Located at 19 North Pleasant Street.


For more information about additional Food Day activities, contact Stephanie Ciccarello, Sustainability Coordinator for the Town of Amherst at (413) 259-3149 or via e-mail at ciccarellos@amherstma.gov.

Grow Food Amherst’s Workshops Move Indoors to All Things Local!

Grow Food Amherst has sponsored educational workshops at the Amherst Winter Market in 2013-14 and at the Wednesday Farmers’ Market during the summer of 2014.  We are moving back indoors for the fall and winter season with our Sustainability Sunday Workshops and Events at All Things Local Cooperative Market at 104 North Pleasant St. in downtown Amherst!

atlAll Things Local is Amherst’s only year-round, 6 day a week downtown farmers’ and craft market, and has become the hub of local activity for  people committed to a more sustainable way of living in the region.  With a steady supply of fresh local vegetables, wonderful summer fruit, warm baked bread every morning, sustainably raised meat products, a bakery full of freshly made pastries and more, local teas and lots of homemade craft items, ATL is the place to shop to support your friends and neighbors who make a living by growing food or making craft products!

pegkitchenOur first workshop featured Peg Thibbits of Harvest Market who taught 12 people how to make peach jam (and everyone took a jar of jam home)!  It was a little crowded in the kitchen, so we are asking you to pre-register here for Peg’s next workshop on making your own corn relish on Sunday, October 5.   Check out Peg’s recipe for her mixed fruit jam and her famous strawberry jam from previous workshops!


xiochiUMass Sustainable Food and Farming Student, Xochi Salazar, led a handmade soap workshop for our second workshop. Participants made a bar of natural soap using Native American medicine from the Kalpulli Olmeca tradition and learned about the history and science behind these practices

Future workshops are listed here:

Sustainability Sunday Workshop Schedule

In addition to providing local farmers and crafters with an opportunity to sell great local food and crafts, All Things Local is committed to sustainability education. According to Board President Bernard Brennan, the new workshop series is a continuation of their many efforts to help support Amherst residents efforts to live a more healthy and sustainable life.  He is delighted to partner with Grow Food Amherst to sponsor the educational workshop series on Sunday afternoons.

If you are interested in presenting a workshop, please contact Grow Food Amherst.