Editor's Note Fall 2014

Mrs. Alice White at the Victory Store vegetable counter in Hardwick, 1942
Mrs. Alice White at the Victory Store vegetable counter in Hardwick, 1942

Written By

Caroline Abels

Written on

August 21 , 2014

Recently I was at a potluck put on by Slow Food Vermont, chatting with a local homesteader about food and ag, and I ended up telling her:

“I’m not a foodie—I’m a farmie.”

A farmie…I’d never used that word before. I wasn’t even sure it was a word. I tell many people I’m not a foodie, usually after they hear I’m the editor of a food magazine and assume that “Oh, you must love to cook,” or “Gosh, you must eat so well at home.” If they only knew my penchant for Peppermint Patties and that I still don’t know how to braise meat.

I much prefer gnawing on the complex issues facing small and mid-size farms—issues a “farmie” would care about, like farm subsidies, land acquisition, animal welfare, farmer pay. And my hope is that more foodies will become farmies—that for every beautiful tomato or pastured pork chop people buy at a farmers’ market, they’ll spend 10 minutes online trying to learn why that pastured pork chop costs what it does, or 10 minutes talking to a farmer about how he or she is really doing (physically and financially) as they labor to grow those tomatoes.

Better yet, they could choose just one food or agriculture nonprofit to join or support, and engage in meaningful advocacy to make our food system more just, humane, and equitable. (You can find local nonprofits by visiting the Vermont Food Atlas, an online guide to all-things-ag in Vermont.)

“Not going to happen,” you may be thinking. “People just want to eat a tomato, not think about it.” But nerve-wracking agricultural developments, such as the current drought in California and the recent outbreak of a piglet-killing disease in factory hog farms, are opportunities for people to start thinking about agriculture, not just food.

In a June blog post for the New York Times, food writer Mark Bittman advocated that we “try to move [the word] ‘foodie’ to a place where it refers to someone who gets beyond fun to pay attention to how food is produced and the impact it has.” I like ditching the word “foodie” altogether and using “farmie” instead because it puts farms at the center of everything. As a popular bumper sticker says, “No farms, no food.”

Much of what we try to do at Local Banquet is bridge the gap between food and farm. So in this issue, Elena Gustavson presents some of the challenges that a restaurateur faces in sourcing from local farms; Katie Sullivan demonstrates the connection between the viability of sheep farming in Vermont and eating mutton; and I introduce some dairy farmers using an on-farm pasteurizer to sell farm-fresh milk directly to customers.

If these topics strike you as interesting, or if you just know in your bones that the issues they raise are important, you’re a farmie already.

—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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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 ties into larger questions of sustainability and the future of our food supply.