I actually happen to live in Mansfield, the venue for this year’s Farm Aid. I’ve been to plenty of concerts here over the years, and in all truthfulness, I can’t recall one meal I’ve eaten here. I’m sure at some point, I chowed a burger or slice of pizza, but it was completely unmemorable. That’s partly why my stroll through the HOMEGROWN village this morning was such a pleasant surprise. Sure there’s beer and pizza and popcorn, but above them are placards bragging about their pedigrees. Organic burgers, cheeseburgers and hot dogs are from Wilson Farms in nearby Lexington, Massachusetts. The pizza is from the Stone Hearth Pizza guys who source locally grown ingredients and implement green practices in their restaurant operations. Some tasty pale ale and a nut brown ale are on tap thanks to Peak Organic Brewing Company from Maine. There are organic chips and salsa, organic popcorn, and a falafel stand brimming with fresh tomatoes, lettuce and bright yellow corn. Pass the tahini!
The folks who are credited with starting the whole fair trade movement in America — Equal Exchange — pushing samples of their fairly-traded organic coffee and newer dried cranberry line. Known for their commitment internationally to small farmers, they’re bringing the philosophy home, and are working with domestic almond, pecan and cranberry growers. Concert goers are nibbling grilled corn, sipping soy milk, and are waiting in a smoky line for some Missouri-raised pork chops from pigs that have been humanely raised and spend their life on actual dirt. “Why is it sooo smoky?” I ask the grill-guy. “Because I’m cooking a lot of meat!” he shoots back. He’s not kidding. His grill is chocked-full of pork chops and bratwurst, and smells a lot like lunch to me.