Editor's Note Winter 2013
Written onJanuary 16 , 2013
It can be comforting to walk into a Vermont farmers’ market—winter or summer. Whether we’re frequent patrons or visiting from out of state, dropping by a market on a Saturday morning or Thursday afternoon can feel cozy and reassuring: all those farmers practicing healthy agriculture and guaranteeing our collective food security.
We may leave with a good feeling and not think more about the carrots or cabbage in our bag. But as one of the writers in this issue of Local Banquet alludes to, challenging and complex questions now abound in Vermont’s local food movement—questions that are a sign of the movement’s growth and maturity.
I can remember participating in one of the state’s first “Localvore Challenges” back in 2006. Our little group gathered for local-dish potlucks over the course of a week to learn from each other about how to eat locally. The biggest hurdles we faced were where to find local wheat flour, how to cook kale so that it wasn’t bitter, and…did sea salt from Maine count as local?
These may seem like quaint questions now, but only because local food production really took off in the late ‘aughts, and now it’s easier to find things like local wheat flour in Vermont. (Am I just speaking for a small sliver of the population, though? Might there be pockets of people in the state who need Localvore Challenges today the way my group did in 2006? As I said, those challenging questions…)
At Local Banquet, we’re delving into some of the conundrums. There’s a story by Khristopher Flack about a Newport mobile farmers’ market that is wondering why its customer base was so low in its first year. Caitlin Gildrien grapples with the “should I buy local or organic?” question. In our previous issue, a writer asked why we as a society label certain plant species as invasive and speak about them with such hostility. (Read one Vermonter’s response to her piece on our website.)
Then there are issues not raised in our pages (yet!). Was Green Mountain College right to have made plans to slaughter (for meat) a pair of beloved oxen who had worked on the college farm for years? (The debate went viral; Lou, who had been injured, was euthanized in November.) Should Vermont attempt to do what California just tried and pass its own “Prop 37,” requiring the labeling of GMO foods? How come the legislature didn’t ban gestation crates for pigs in its last session? Why are beginning farmers so unable to afford land?
Join the discussion on these and other issues by writing to us, or by penning an op-ed of your own for our new ”Viewpoint” section. As Local Banquet grows and matures alongside the movement we cover, we’d like to follow these fascinating threads as they weave together our local agriculture.