While in Boston over the Memorial Day weekend, I ended up at Hatch Shell in the Charles River Esplanade - site of the 15th annual EarthFest. I did not expect to work, but as I walked the aisles of grass and pinballed from booth to booth, I suffered a flashback. Hey! I know you!... Don't tell me, Expo West, right? East? Ah, right!
I was impressed by the number of food companies that turned out. Whole Foods Market had its very own, very large tent filled with samples of its 365 private label line, including soaps, cookies and chips. Employees greeted attendees wearing bright green T-shirts and primed with plenty of talking (shouting might be more accurate) points. Also working the crowd of 50,000 were Morningstar Farms, Annie Chun's, Kashi, Steaz, Nantucket Nectars, Nature's Path, Barbara's Bakery, Honest Tea, Stonyfield Farms and Cape Cod Potato Chips.
People certainly enjoyed the food (the bulging, reusable shopping bags filled with freebies attested to that), but the truer spirit of the event could be found at the non-profit and local community group section, promoting various causes ranging from bicycle transportation to energy efficiency. There were fewer giveaways here, but plenty of information and ideas and inspiration on ways everyone can reduce their individual impact on the environment.
Then there was the music. A few of the five bands were from my college years. I was glad to see they were still around (like me) and still looked pretty good (hopefully, like me). One of them was a favorite when I was in school — the BoDeans, a great, Milwaukee-based duo that I hadn't seen in more than 10 years, closed with what's probably they're best-known song, "Closer to Free."
Closer to Green is more like it. At least, we can hope. It's impossible to say just how many people actually took time to look through the free samples and giveaways, to the message and goals behind Earthfest. Purchasing ethically processed foods that respect the earth is certainly one way to demonstrate a commitment, but it's only one part. Let's hope next year the bike rack will be more full and nonprofit tables busier. Anyway, thanks WBOS 92.9 for putting on a great show and getting us all to keep thinking green!