• Editor's Note Winter 2017

    Editor's Note Winter 2017

    “If you’re going to Québec City, you have to visit a cabane à sucre,” said Claire. And her good advice was confirmed as soon as my partner and I walked into Cabane à Sucre Leclerc in Neuville on a chilly, snowy evening.

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  • Set the Table with Poutine

    Set the Table with Poutine

    I grew up in California, in a world of dayboat salmon, tofu, and spinach salad. I only became vaguely aware of the odd sounding “poutine” when I moved to Vermont. French fries with gravy and cheese curds? I mean, that all sounds weird enough without including the word “curds” at the end.

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  • Along the Route des Vins

    Along the Route des Vins

    In the first unpredictable weeks of spring, workers at Québec’s Léon Courville vineyard lay the bones of 1,200 tiny bonfires between the vines.

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  • So Close And Yet So Far

    So Close And Yet So Far

    Ask people in agriculture about the challenges of selling Vermont food in Québec, and folks tend to have the same first reaction.

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  • Au Marché

    Au Marché

    On a sunny, crisp day in early September, a friend and I meandered over the border to visit three Québec farmers’ markets.

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  • Neighbors to the North—Of Loaves and Land

    Neighbors to the North—Of Loaves and Land

    Every week at Red Hen Baking Company in Middlesex, six tons of flour is mixed, kneaded, and transformed into 18,000 loaves of bread.

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  • Neighbors to the North—Seeding Relationships

    Neighbors to the North—Seeding Relationships

    Some 20 years ago, when Tom Stearns of High Mowing Seeds was living in Holland, Vermont, just on the border with Québec, he met Laurier Chabot at a biodynamic agriculture conference.

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  • Neighbors to the North—A Vintner Mentor

    Neighbors to the North—A Vintner Mentor

    When David and Linda Boyden started Boyden Valley Winery in Cambridge in 1996, they had zero experience in viticulture or oenology, save for a class that David had taken at Cornell University.

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  • Neighbors to the North—A Plethora of Produce

    Neighbors to the North—A Plethora of Produce

    Imagine two Caesar salads: Both are tossed in that classic salty dressing and topped with croutons, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese. And both salads have, as their base, crisp and crunchy romaine lettuce.

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  • Neighbors to the North—Fields  of  Gold

    Neighbors to the North—Fields of Gold

    Jack Lazor called me at 8:00 p.m. the other night, which surprised me. I’m used to dairy farmer hours, and 8:00 p.m is past bedtime for most dairymen and women I’ve known.

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  • Neighbors to the North—A Porcine Quest

    Neighbors to the North—A Porcine Quest

    Vermont Salumi, a small company making fresh sausages and hand-tied salami in the Italian tradition, is based just outside Plainfield.

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  • To Market, to Bank

    To Market, to Bank

    Québecois grower Jean-Martin Fortier draws a distinction between a good living and a good life.  “’A good living’ mostly refers to how much money you make,” he tells me during a phone call. A good life, in contrast, takes into account “how your time is spent, and to what purpose.”

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  • Last Morsel—My Family’s French Canadian Kitchen

    Last Morsel—My Family’s French Canadian Kitchen

    Whenever I catch a whiff of cinnamon or cloves, my mind drifts to my mother’s kitchen and the French Canadian food traditions that shaped how I learned to cook.

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Editor's Note Spring 2017

Sap buckets, Rockingham; photo by Meg Lucas.

Written By

Caroline Abels

Written on

February 22 , 2017

This spring I’ll be leaving Vermont’s Local Banquet after 10 years as its editor. The past decade hasn’t just been a banquet—it’s been a feast! Getting to work with so many talented Vermont writers to “lift the hood” on our local food movement has been a joy, and has given me (and hopefully you, too) many reasons to believe that we have quite an exceptional agricultural community here in Vermont.

When Meg Lucas and Barbi Schreiber launched the magazine in 2007 and asked me to be its founding editor, Vermont’s local food scene was young and plucky—a wobbly but confident lamb trying to find its footing among the big sheep of supermarkets and conventional dairy farms. The Farm to Plate network hadn’t been formed yet, Harlow Farm was still just serving its surrounding towns, and the Jasper Hill brothers were in the early years of milking cows. You couldn’t find bread made with local wheat, and no one was drinking hard cider fashioned with Vermont apples.

A couple of years earlier, “localvore potlucks” had taken place around the state, introducing people to the novel concept of sourcing all their ingredients for a dish from within Vermont. “Where can we find local cornmeal?” people would ask each other. (Butterworks Farm was the only place.) “What do we do about salt?” (Apply the “Marco Polo exception” to the 100-mile-radius rule and just buy it at the grocery store.)

Today, having brought a diversity of local foods to many locations, our local food movement is facing new challenges: the threat that consumers will abandon it, should it no longer seem “trendy”; the fact that a number of good farmers are packing it in after burning out; the cost of farmland in Vermont, which keeps new farmers from establishing thriving operations.

There are many issues to address, but I suppose these are my parting wishes: that more people learn how to cook at home, so they can use the raw materials that our farmers produce; that we rethink farmers’ markets, because not everyone in our communities feels drawn to shop at them; and that citizens of Vermont continue to build their “agricultural literacy”—their understanding of what actually happens on farms and why farmers make the choices they do.

After producing 40 issues of Local Banquet with the kind, generous, creative, and thoughtful team known to so many in Vermont as simply “Meg & Barbi,” I plan to concentrate on my own writing and journalism, focusing on issues related to humane animal agriculture and devoting myself to the project I started five years ago, Humaneitarian.org.

Even more significantly, my partner and I are planning to raise dairy sheep and grow fruit in the near future, on land in the Hudson Valley that my parents have tended for 30 years. I’m grateful that my involvement with local food issues has allowed me to grasp the perils and challenges of small-scale farming before going into it. As a result, I trust that I can approach this calling realistically, in addition to joyfully.

Please continue to enjoy Vermont’s Local Banquet. And please keep practicing this dictum, which—despite its ubiquity—is still quite radical, still deeply impactful, and utterly (and increasingly) necessary in these times: Eat local.

— Caroline Abels

About the Author

Caroline Abels

Caroline Abels

Caroline Abels is the editor of Local Banquet and the founder-editor of Humaneitarian.org, a website that inspires people to buy and eat humanely raised meat.

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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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