In the back garden of Roberta’s Pizza at 261 Moore Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn are two used shipping containers; ordinary-looking on the outside, anything but on the inside. This is the headquarters of Heritage Radio Network, a brand new internet radio station aiming “to protect and advance our country’s rich cultural roots in the form of interviews, reflections, musings and ramblings from America’s leading farmers, food mavericks, filmmakers, artists and tastemakers.”
Heritage Radio Network was started by Patrick Martins, founder of Slow Food USA as well as meat distribution company Heritage Foods USA, a for-profit arm of Slow Food USA that works with farmers and buyers to protect heirloom breeds by promoting them as food. His forage into radio was inspired partly by Carlo Petrini, who founded Slow Food in Italy, and started a radio station in the back of an osteria.
In an interview with The New York Times, Martins says: “You want to hear people’s voices who are at the cutting edge of the green revolution, or the food revolution, or whatever you want to call it. We wanted to make that place were people like Zakary Pelaccio can go so that the world doesn’t just know him through his food, but through his brilliant ideas.”
Besides Pelaccio and Jori Jayne Emde’s Urban Foragers, other programs (there are a total of 24) include mad scientist chef Will Goldfarb’s Will Communication (recorded from Indonesia where Goldfarb currently resides), Cheap Date with chef/food blogger Cathy Erway, Greenhorn Radio with young farmer advocate Severine von Tscharner Fleming, The Caffeine Stream with coffee enthusiast Nicole Slaven, The Naturalist with the encyclopedicly knowledgeable Bernie Wides, Catch It, Cook It, Eat It! with seafood enthusiast Ben Sargent, Why We Cook with culinary instructor Erica Wides, Cutting the Curd with cheesemonger Anne Saxelby, and Edible Communities, hosted by editors of the various Edible Communities publications.
The first show, the Main Course, hosted by Patrick Martins, was broadcast in April of this year and Heritage Network Radio’s fan base seems to be growing by the day. The subject matter is a very timely one, as food and the way we eat become increasingly important as mainstream topics of discussion. All shows air live and encourage call-ins, but are also archived and easily accessible on the website, which is structured more like a reference library than a traditional internet radio station. Besides hearing shows in their entirety, listeners can also search by keyword and only listen to the snippets which they are interested in (a search for “beer” gave me ten different clips to listen to).
Besides amazing thin crust pizzas, Roberta’s also has an organic garden (partly funded by Alice Waters, who is also a sponsor of HRN) growing on top of the two containers that house the radio station. It’s farm to table, via internet radio waves.
Top photo by mopatak, Creative Commons.