• Editor's Note Spring 2015

    Editor's Note Spring 2015

    When Paul McCartney popped up on my computer screen recently, I wanted to believe him. Who wouldn’t be prepared to trust a man who wrote and sang “Blackbird” and “Good Day Sunshine” and “Penny Lane”?

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  • Set the Table with Cultured Foods

    Set the Table with Cultured Foods

    Introducing bold-flavored ferments—from the spicy kick of kimchi to the sour tang of kefir and the refreshing effervescence of kombucha and beyond—into your culinary repertoire opens a new world of taste sensations. Fermentation becomes a happy compulsion.

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  • Spring Vinegars

    Spring Vinegars

    As the earth reawakens from winter’s slumber, it takes time for the sun’s warmth to turn the earth over to spring, coaxing new growth out of last year’s seed. The same is true in our bodies: It takes time to transition from the inwardness of winter to spring’s explosion of vitality.

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  • The Seeds of Renewal Project

    The Seeds of Renewal Project

    Back in the 1950s and 60s, I often visited my grandparents in northwestern Vermont during the summers. I remember children and teenagers enthusiastically riding their bikes with bucket and spinning rod, heading down to the Missisquoi River to fish.

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  • The Taste of Grass

    The Taste of Grass

    Fat tastes good. Whatever your other feelings about fat and health, good fats and bad fats, let’s agree that fat improves a food’s flavor. Our salivary glands respond to fat’s aromas during cooking (think frying bacon or browning butter) and its presence changes the way food feels on our tongue, adding a satisfyingly rich texture.

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  • Dorchester’s Daily Table

    Dorchester’s Daily Table

    Chef Ismail Samad first made his name in New England when he and business partners Alice James and Liz Ehrenberg opened the Gleanery Restaurant—a Putney eatery that serves first-rate fare made from farm-gleaned “seconds.”

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  • Our Meat, Made Visible

    Our Meat, Made Visible

    Ironically, given that it’s the only slaughterhouse in Vermont with public viewing windows, the new Vermont Packinghouse doesn’t have a single window on the outside, save on the front door of the main office.

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  • Vermont Veggies Find New Markets

    Vermont Veggies Find New Markets

    There’s no vegetable more basic than a potato. This humble, tuberous root crop, Solanum tuberosum, grows in the dark, hidden from view most of the year, and emerges late when the air is frosty.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Porcine Preparation

    Farmers' Kitchen—Porcine Preparation

    At our farm here in Newfane, the pigs are the favorites of all of us. The lambs and goat kids don’t really give us the time of day, and our girls get a little nervous trying to pet the steer like I do. But the pigs are always happy to have us around.

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  • Last Morsel—Farming Solo

    Last Morsel—Farming Solo

    This past summer I embarked on my first foray into agriculture on a small piece of land in Waterbury. While I took some time to get settled, by mid-season I was attending a farmers’ market, selling to various restaurants and stores, and maintaining a small farm stand.

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Editor's Note Spring 2015

Tapping maple trees

Written on

February 11 , 2015

When Paul McCartney popped up on my computer screen recently, I wanted to believe him. Who wouldn’t be prepared to trust a man who wrote and sang “Blackbird” and “Good Day Sunshine” and “Penny Lane”?

What he said, though, was this: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.” Oh, Sir Paul! I’ve known for a while that he is active in vegetarian causes, so it wasn’t a surprise that he was appearing in an online ad for a vegetarian organization, but this bit of hyperbole was too much, even for a guy who writes pop songs.

The fact is, many of us in the local food community who have watched animals’ lives ended for food, or who have participated in slaughtering ourselves, haven’t become vegetarian. In many cases, it has strengthened our appreciation of the meat we eat and resolved us to support local processing plants that do things right.(Perhaps Paul was referring to the worst industrial slaughterhouses, in which case, he might have a point.)

What’s more, if seeing animals processed turned everyone off of meat, then slaughterhouses wouldn’t be embracing the idea of installing public viewing windows—as the new Vermont Packinghouse has. As you’ll read in the story on page 18, the choice to invite the public to view all that takes place at Vermont Packinghouse was made in the spirit of transparency. Echoing this spirit, humane farming advocate Temple Grandin recently said that the future of the livestock industry requires “opening up the doors.”

I would say, though, that we need to open all the doors within our Vermont food system. We need to see the farmworkers from Mexico who labor on our dairy farms, need to observe the hay baler and the truck driver and the line cook hard at work, need to watch (if only in our mind’s eye) beginning farmer Ryan Demarest collapsing from exhaustion in his broccoli field, as he describes in an essay on page 34. Only when we see all the work that goes into the making of our local food will we truly appreciate it (and understand why it costs more).

In January, a group of Williams College students spent a week at Green Mountain Girls Farm in Northfield as part of their Winter Study. They visited all sorts of Vermont agricultural ventures, meeting the people who run our food system. One of the students later wrote, “We fittingly saw the faces of the farmers and workers who are often invisible to American consumers. Rodney, Mary, Karen… memorable personalities, and their stories gave me more than systemic understanding. They described motivations, morals, values, and missions that humanized the material and highlighted that any grand system is made up of many tiny individuals with distinct histories.”

How, in our busy lives, can we “see” all the people in our grand Vermont food system? We can’t, of course, but we can read articles about them, talk to them when they cross our path, express our appreciation for what they do, and try to understand the challenges they’re up against.

I’m remembering that Paul McCartney also penned a Beatles song called “I’ve Just Seen a Face”… Perfect.

—Caroline Abels



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A quarterly magazine devoted to covering local food, sustainable farming, and the many people building the Vermont food system.

Vermont's Local Banquet Magazine illuminates the connections between local food and Vermont communities. Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape is changing as the localvore movement shapes what is grown and raised here.


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