Edible Berkshires


The evening news delivers the stories that it declares to be breaking, different or unusual, or maybe just relevant to us all. As I write this, the news reader just announced that the northeast is bracing for another blast of frigid air, brought to us commercial-free by the jet stream, compliments of our Canadian neighbors.

What happened to global warming, I wonder. Hot air rises; it must all be over the North Pole. Officially it’s spring—so the calendar says.

This brought me to the next story, recited with a sign of concern on the reader’s face. According to some researchers, as many as one in every 20 Americans may suffer from gluten sensitivity, also known as gluten intolerance. Additionally, incidence of gluten-related celiac disease is rising sharply—in the last 50 years it has quadrupled.

The market for gluten-free food is estimated to be $2.6 billion. reading brought me another startling statistic: At least two-thirds of the cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children is caused by food sensitivities, according to a study published in the British medical journal The Lancet.

I thought back to when I was in grammar school. We had a boy in class who was always in trouble, acting out, creating a problem for the teacher. By the time we went to middle school, he was fine.

Why are we seeing increases in food allergies and negative reactions to the food we consume?

In this issue, Chef Rachael Portnoy searched out answers to this question and brings us some interesting conclusions, which she says have changed her life. See “it may be old, but young at heart,” on page 40.

Our readily available food supply has been manipulated, treated and changed. We are now facing the further escalation and next generation of genetically modified or engineered foods.

As spring gets here for real—you know, “the grass has rizzed, wonder where the birdies is”—do consider planting or expanding a garden of food for your family, Karen Shreefter offers some low-impact advice in “Life’s too short” (page 32). Or if growing your own seems too overwhelming, consider helping yourself to some of the edibles that Mother Nature has to offer. Check out Matthew Bradley’s “ramps” (page 10) and Russ Cohen’s “Wild Things” (page 16). We are also blessed with an abundance of talented young farmers in our area. Help them grow and succeed by seeking out their produce at local farmers’ markets.

Eat local, eat healthy.

Wishing all a warm, locally abundant and glorious spring!