Women of Fish and Food

This post comes to us from Niaz Dorry, NAMA’s coordinating director.

We joined the Boston Local Food Festival as a partner in 2010, its inaugural year. It’s been a great partnership with our friends at Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts, whose collective brains gave birth to the Festival. Every year we have held a Seafood Throwdown featuring aspects of the region’s seafood and fishing industry the average person doesn’t get to typically hear about or interact with. The first year’s Seafood Throwdown was the catalyst for the decision by the City of Boston to overturn decades old ordinance that kept seafood out of such events and off public property in general.

Jessie Jackson and Jason Bond at 2010 BLFF SFT.jpg
Jesse Jackson and Jason Bond compete at the inaugural Seafood Throwdown at BLFF in 2010

This year will be no different. We’re once again bringing a unique element of the fishing industry: the women who fish. Despite what those of us who work intimately with the fishing communities know, women’s role in fishing, fishing related businesses, advocacy organizations, and fishing community leadership is not recognized. 

Women who fish are considered an anomaly: hence the fact that we have to point out that these are women who actually fish! Funny how we feel the need to explain women’s involvement in things as some sort of novelty: woman lead singer, all female band, female authors, and women who fish… the list goes on and on. But I guess just like anything else, until it’s normal we’ll have to point it out. So this year, we’re going to point out the women who play a key role in our fishing communities and in the businesses of putting seafood on our plates.
The two teams cooking at this year’s BLFF Seafood Throwdown will be coming from the Women of Fishing Families in Chatham, MA and New England Fishmongers out of southern Maine/coastal New Hampshire. Chix Who Fish from Maine will join us for a crab picking demo after the Seafood Throwdown. Aside from bringing their cooking and demonstration chops, these women will share what it means to fish, to be a woman working in what’s considered to be a “man’s world,” and will share their multi-general knowledge of the ocean ecosystems and how it interacts with us.

But we’re not stopping there; we’re also including women who just simply “food.”

Our emcee will be Laurie Lufkin of Cape Ann. Laurie is a chef and caterer who has won many cooking competitions in her own right.

Laurie Lufkin & Callie Crossley at 2011 BLFF SFT.jpg
Laurie Lufkin and Callie Crossley of WBUR emceeing the 2011 Seafood Throwdown at BLFF
Joining us on the judging panel this year will be five women who cook, eat, make, and now have the title “author” added to their resume:
·      Ali Berlow is the publisher of Edible Vineyard and author of Food Activist Handbook;
·      Diana Rodgers is a Massachusetts-based farmer, nutritionist and author of Homegrown Paleo Cookbook;
·      Hallie Baker is a chocolatier and owner of Turtle Alley Chocolates in Gloucester and Salem, MA, and author of Turtle Truffle Bark!;
·      Heather Atwood is a food writer for the Gloucester Daily Times and author of In Cod We Trust; and,
·      Leigh Belanger is a communications consultant, the food editor at Culture magazine, and author of The Boston Homegrown Cookbook.

BLFF author judges.jpg
Personally, I feel privileged to have these women in my life as colleagues and sources of inspirations, but even more importantly as friends.

Worth noting that even the NAMA team who will be on hand are all women this year! We’ve sent Brett off to hold down the fort at Farm Aid this year. In addition, Future Chefs is sending some of the up and coming young women chefs to assist our able chefs.
So come down to the Boston Local Food Festival this Sunday, September 20th on the Rose Kennedy Greenway to meet some of my friends, learn about local seafood, and the women who make food happen.