• Publishers' Note

    Publishers' Note

    When they harnessed fire, by some accounts more than 1.5 million years ago, our distant ancestors changed the course of their evolution and, ultimately, ours. Not only was light and warmth brought into their lives, but the act of cooking food is thought to have increased brain size and put us on the path to becoming Homo Sapiens.

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  • Polyphony in the Garden

    Polyphony in the Garden

    When I work in the garden, surrounded by vegetables, flowering plants, and herbs, with several species of bees buzzing in the big, purple, flowering clusters of anise hyssop at the ends of all the beds, and a breeze fluttering the leaves of the maples and oaks in the woods nearby, I sense polyphony at work in the natural world.

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  • Set the Table with Rabbit

    Set the Table with Rabbit

    I circulated the room with a tray of hors d’oeuvres, weaving through bridesmaids, groomsmen, and guests. The social hour was winding down, and by my fifth or sixth pass through the crowd, I knew who the vegetarians were—who to offer the stuffed mushrooms to, who to pass by with the pulled pork.

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  • Sun Dance Season: An Abenaki Summer

    Sun Dance Season: An Abenaki Summer

    For the Abenaki, summer officially begins during the hoeing and planting times, what we consider late spring, and lasts up to the Green Corn Festival, the official “kick-off” of the harvest.

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  • Forest to Flask

    Forest to Flask

    Do you know a cooper? It’s a query likely to produce confusion, as Caledonia Spirits’ founder Todd Hardie learned by putting the question to just about everyone. “For most of a year, each time I met someone, I’d say ‘Hello, do you know a cooper?’ And they would say, ‘What’s a cooper?’”

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  • Fire Eaters

    Fire Eaters

    Although cooking over a fire generally brings fond memories of roasting marshmallows for s’mores, it also offers a tremendous opportunity to become more connected with the places we live and the food we eat.

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  • Campfire Cooking

    Campfire Cooking

    Camping is one of the most sensory pleasures of summer. There are the natural sights, such as towering trees, wildlife, sunsets, and stars, and the sounds, such as those of birds that start their trilling morning songs and lakes that lap at shores in the distance.

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  • Breeds Apart

    Breeds Apart

    Many people greet the arrival of spring by poring over seed catalogs and scanning for new varieties of vegetables, but I have a slightly different tradition. When March rolls around, I plan my broiler chickens for the year.

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  • Rural Vermont at 30:  Supporting Farmers to Sustain Farming

    Rural Vermont at 30: Supporting Farmers to Sustain Farming

    In early April, on an evening that concluded with yet another “surprise” late-season snowstorm, more than 100 people gathered at the historic Capital City Grange Hall on the edge of Montpelier to celebrate the official beginning of Rural Vermont’s 30th anniversary.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Okra!

    Farmers' Kitchen—Okra!

    Although we farm in Vermont, one of our favorite vegetables to grow, and especially to eat, is a staple from the South: okra. On our farm in Shaftsbury, where we grow between 25 and 30 acres of veggies and small fruits—everything from asparagus to… well, yes… zucchini—it’s the letter O in which one of our true vegetable passions rests. Okra!

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  • Last Morsel—Reliving History through Food in Burlington

    Last Morsel—Reliving History through Food in Burlington

    I swirled the creamy beans, sweet chunks of zucchini, and crunchy corn niblets in the last of the lemon-herb vinaigrette at the bottom of my dish. This salad had a story to tell, and I was hungry to hear it. Lucky for me, I was in the right place: Sugarsnap restaurant at the Echo Center, the first stop on the Burlington Edible History Tour.

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Publishers' Note

Anise hyssop

Written By

Meg Lucas

Written on

May 26 , 2015

When they harnessed fire, by some accounts more than 1.5 million years ago, our distant ancestors changed the course of their evolution and, ultimately, ours. Not only was light and warmth brought into their lives, but the act of cooking food is thought to have increased brain size and put us on the path to becoming Homo Sapiens. Social interactions also flourished as we huddled around the fire telling our stories and sharing our thoughts.

Fire has indeed been a powerful force in shaping us, and we continue to enjoy an intimate relationship with it—just witness how people are drawn to wood stoves in winter. The ritual of an open fire still has the power to draw us in. What magic to sit around a campfire or backyard fire pit with the focal point the flame, sharing good food and good talk. Fire has the ability to connect us to our past while grounding us in the here and now.

In this issue we offer two articles that feature the element of fire. In the first (page 16) students from the Oyase Community School in Dummerston learn the communal skills needed to make a fire in the woods and discover their relationship to the food they cook over it. Our second article (page 17), offering a more hands on approach, takes you through the steps necessary to prepare a fresh, locally sourced meal on your next camping trip or maybe in your backyard fire pit.

And in a third article detailing the Abenaki seasonal summer traditions (page 12), food cooking over a fire pit offers a backdrop for the annual indigenous planting ceremony during which children spread cornmeal over newly planted soil.

To quote Wendell Barry, “Eating with the fullest pleasure—pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance—is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.”

There is great mystery in fire, and we cannot necessarily comprehend its power. With this in mind, we intend to make a point of experiencing and taking pleasure in the transformative power of fire this summer, both to cook our food and to remind us of place, and time, and our world.

Meg Lucas
Barbi Schreiber

About the Author

Meg Lucas

Meg Lucas

Co-publisher Vermont's Local Banquet Magazine

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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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