• Mark Kurlansky's

    Mark Kurlansky's "The Food of a Younger Land"

    In the 1930s, writers for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) chronicled the eating habits of Americans. Here are some Vermont excerpts, as collected in Mark Kurlansky’s The Food of a Younger Land:

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Farm & Ferment

    Farmers' Kitchen—Farm & Ferment

    Our farm is centered around regeneration, inspired by Rudolf Steiner and more recent developments in the rebuilding of high-functioning soils and plants. We regard our farm as a self-contained entity, with its own organ systems (microbes, fungi, cattle, etc.), character, economic, social, and ecological life.

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  • A Localvore’s Dilemma

    A Localvore’s Dilemma

    It’s a sign of the maturity of Vermont’s sustainable agriculture and local foods movement that this has become a prevalent and perplexing question. Is it better to buy a local, organic carrot or one that’s just local? Even more challenging, is it better to buy a local, conventionally grown carrot, or an organic carrot from far away?

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  • Reflections of a Restaurateur | Part 4

    Reflections of a Restaurateur | Part 4

    One of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite snacks was anchovy deviled eggs. He was also wild about fresh peas, and several of his surviving handwritten recipes are for creamy French desserts. I know this because at my Montpelier restaurant, Salt, we once spent several weeks cooking and serving dishes that were common at fancy Monticello dinner parties or inspired by the late president’s extensive garden.

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  • Set the Table with…Cranberries

    Set the Table with…Cranberries

    The Land of Bog is a mysterious world of acidic, sandy peat soil and an abundance of water. Here live the cranberries: low-trailing vines with small evergreen leaves and tart, wine-colored berries. They are wise and venerable plants that theoretically can live forever; some cranberries on Cape Cod are more than 150 years old.

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  • Eat Right

    Eat Right

    If you haven’t eaten at your local hospital lately, you don’t know what you’re missing. No, seriously! Over the past few years, Vermont medical facilities have traded in their Fry-o-lators for sauté pans, canned and processed foods for local and organic fruits and veggies, and sugary soft drinks for lightly sweetened iced teas.

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  • A Mobile Market Finds Its Way

    A Mobile Market Finds Its Way

    A little after 10:00 a.m. on a chilly October morning in Newport, the traffic at the intersection of Main street and Coventry street is as steady as usual. Traffic lights turn, some cars move, others stop; the rhythm of routine here is strong.  But at the edge of this routine, along the curb, Meghan Stotko is doing something eye-catching: building a multi-tiered display of local food that’s part billboard, part art installation.

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  • Barnstorming


    Barns, of course, are a staple in Vermont agriculture, providing a place to house livestock, store hay and grain, and keep farm vehicles and equipment. Unfortunately, though, their upkeep can be dauntingly expensive and time consuming, especially with cows to milk and food to produce.

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  • Inviting the Pollinators

    Inviting the Pollinators

    Several years ago I was privileged to spend weeks and months at a time working in southern Mexico with organic coffee and cacao farmers. My first visit to a coffee farm is etched in my memory primarily through sound—the sound of bees.

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  • Editor's Note Winter 2013

    Editor's Note Winter 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.

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Editor's Note Winter 2013


Written By

Caroline Abels

Written on

January 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.

—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. 

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