Mayor Menino prepares salsa at the Boston Public Market

Next week will be my last as a member of the Chefs Collaborative staff and as my last day approaches, I can’t help but reflect on how much the world of sustainable food has changed since my first day on the team in August of 2006.  Just take a look at our neighborhood – where the changes have been dramatic.

Our national office is located in Downtown Boston in between the bustling Financial District, Chinatown, and South Boston.  In 2006 this neighborhood didn’t seem to have much going on in terms of the local food scene.  For many in this neighborhood, lunch breaks consisted of trips to mediocre delis and Dunkin Donuts.  When the Boston Public Market first opened in 2006, the neighborhood didn’t know how to respond.  Even though it was located right next to South Station, a major transportation hub, people seemed more concerned with getting home at the end of the day, and less curious about this new farmstand in the middle of the city.

Four years later, this neighborhood is a bustling scene with a successful farmers market, local food vendors,  and even our very own food truck!!!  In fact, just this past week we saw our very own Mayor Menino, whipping up some corn and vegetable salsa at the farmers market.  Mayor Menino was there to announce a new program which will allow low-income residents to receive a $10 credit for shopping at local farmers markets and using their EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card.  It is the hope of the administration that this new program will make local, healthy food more accessible and affordable for low income residents.

And then, there’s the Clover Food Truck.  Imagine long lines of business men waiting patiently in their button down shirts to get their hands on a delicious, vegetarian sandwich (check this out – even the Mayor ate one).  Four years ago, this would have seemed impossible — but today professional Bostonians are lining up for fresh chickpea sandwiches and BBQ Seitans, topped with local vegetables, packed into whole wheat pitas.  Top it off with a refreshing lavender infused lemonade and you’ve got a fantastic lunch.

Are we in San Francisco?  Seattle perhaps?  Nope, welcome to Boston – where a whole lot’s changing.