• Editor’s Note Winter 2008

    Editor’s Note Winter 2008

    Although this magazine is young, we who put it together each season are beginning to notice a thread running through it: that of the old. In many of the stories that have appeared in our first three issues, there are references to our Vermont farmer ancestors and to the various agricultural pursuits and culinary experiments they engaged in. To be honest, this wasn’t planned.

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  • Biodynamics and Me

    Biodynamics and Me

    I have never thought of myself as a “spiritual” person. Although I have much admiration for the values and ethical traditions associated with the secular Judaism I was raised in, I have tended to eschew the organized aspect of religion. My secular upbringing did not prevent me, however, from noticing that the world around me was spectacularly complex and beautiful. The littlest things (a spider’s web!) inspired my utmost appreciation and respect. Later, I channeled this appreciation in the direction of science, trying to understand life processes through the study of biology and botany, microbiology and biochemistry.

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  • Is Local Food a Frugal Choice?

    Is Local Food a Frugal Choice?

    If you’re reading this magazine, you’ve probably seen one of those lists that explain all the great reasons to buy local food. I’ve seen them so many times I can recite the reasons by heart: local food tastes better, it keeps family farmers in business, it’s better for the environment. But here’s an item I’ve never seen on one of those lists: local food costs less. That’s because many people—myself included—assume that buying local food means spending more money per item. We believe there must be a higher cost to something that represents an investment in our health, the environment and the local economy.

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  • A Community Buys a Farm

    A Community Buys a Farm

    Robin McDermott is gazing towards the Mad River across a field dusted with early November snow. The frozen grass crunches beneath our feet as we walk past an old milking barn, standing huge and empty now for 40 years. Several acres of good agricultural soil, once carefully maintained, now lie fallow. “We need more farmers here,” McDermott says simply. As a founding member of the Mad River Localvores, she should know.

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  • Pete's Good Eaters

    Pete's Good Eaters

    In the garage-sized farm stand where summer customers palmed pudgy tomatoes and grabbed up bunches of basil, the red manure spreader was parked for the winter. It was mid-November, and the plumes of celosias and sprawling nasturtiums that had been growing on the farm stand’s eye-catching “living roof” were a black, tangled thatch. But despite these concessions to the season at Peter Johnson’s farm in Craftsbury Village, there was lettuce growing in the greenhouse, workers making sauerkraut in the barn, and purple sacks on a cart, waiting to be picked up by local CSA members on their commute home.

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  • Beyond Maple Syrup

    Beyond Maple Syrup

    On Sunday mornings during my childhood in Burlington, my father would make heaping stacks of pancakes on the wood stove. My sister and I eagerly awaited the moment when we would pour dark amber maple syrup on our plates to make our doughy boats float in a pool of sweetness. As a child, I took for granted that maple syrup, that quintessential Vermont ingredient, was an important part of the culture in my state. But today, a shift in ecological conditions thought to be triggered by global warming is pressuring ecosystems to move northward. If the southerly range of sugar maples migrates northward into Canada, a vital part of Vermont’s culture and economy will relocate with these valuable trees.

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  • Three Square—Winter 2008

    Three Square—Winter 2008

    Growing up in Vermont, I ate chokecherries, dandelions, venison, and tempura day lilies. When I returned recently, to live here full-time, I began to notice how often the conversation in Vermont turns to food. What’s for dinner? For the next few issues of Local Banquet, I’ll visit a variety of people at home, peer into their iceboxes, and find out what they’re eating and why. And because these can often be personal subjects, I’ve omitted last names.

    Mike likes to eat everything. “Meats, potatoes, vegetables. I like all vegetables. Me, I’m not a fussy eater.”

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  • Good Bye Rubarb Pie

    Good Bye Rubarb Pie

    Before I moved here, I always thought of Vermont as Holstein cows dotting a green rolling hillside, dairy barn in the middle ground. Say the word “Vermont” and I could smell maple syrup. Before I ever set foot in the Green Mountains, I associated them with food. Good food. And now, as I prepare to leave Vermont, my home for the past three and a half years, it is food I will miss.

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  • The Underground Garden

    The Underground Garden

    My good friend Robert King, who lives on Putney Mountain, built a root cellar in the 1970s on the hillside just south of his home. Easy access came from the gravel road, where he could drive his truck right up to the root cellar. The site was protected from the north wind and snow drifts. The door opened to the east, not the south where it would have received too much sun. Robert used the Scott Nearing simple stone construction method. First, pour concrete footings and then, using movable wooden frames, fill them with cement and rocks and let them dry. Then move the frames above the first-poured section and start again. It’s simple and practical.

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  • RAFFL, Loca, and Raw Milk Legislation

    RAFFL, Loca, and Raw Milk Legislation

    Raw milk cheeses aren’t the only “live” foods getting attention in Vermont these days. In January, Rural Vermont, a non-profit working for economic justice for Vermont farmers, plans to introduce legislation in the Statehouse that would enable farmers to sell more than 24 quarts of raw milk a day.

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  • Survival of the Rawest

    Survival of the Rawest

    Sometimes the food world offers bona fide drama made for “reality” TV. Survival of the Rawest is the working title for my imagined submission to the networks. This virtual “hit-show” is actually in production right now on small farms in the Northeast. And the subject is the clash of live foods with dead ones.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Better Be Beets

    Farmers' Kitchen—Better Be Beets

    Beets are one of the mightiest of all vegetables. Steamed, roasted, pickled, or raw, beets add color, flavor, and nutrition to any meal.

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RAFFL, Loca, and Raw Milk Legislation

Sign for raw mikh cheese at farmers' market

Written By

Caroline Abels

Written on

December 01 , 2007

Raw Milk Legislation

Raw milk cheeses (see Survival of the Rawest) aren’t the only “live” foods getting attention in Vermont these days. In January, Rural Vermont, a non-profit working for economic justice for Vermont farmers, plans to introduce legislation in the Statehouse that would enable farmers to sell more than 24 quarts of raw milk a day.

Currently, Vermont law allows farmers to sell, from their farm only, 24 quarts or less of unpasteurized milk a day. “That’s basically one cow,” says Rural Vermont director Amy Shollenberger, “so if you have a family cow and all you want to do is sell the extra milk to a few neighbors, this [legislation] won’t affect you at all.”

Instead, the proposed legislation calls for the establishment of local committees that would certify farmers who want to sell more than 24 quarts a day from their farm or through delivery to pre-paying customers. The committees would be comprised of farmers, consumers, and one health care professional—a veterinarian, medical doctor, or naturopath, for example. These volunteers would review a farmer’s proposed plan for how he or she would meet the raw milk production standards outlined in the legislation. They would inspect the farms under their jurisdiction every six months and make sure the farms are in compliance with the standards. Committee members would also have the authority to inspect a farm if problems arise. They would not be employees of the Agency of Agriculture.

“We want to set up a system where the farmer is highly motivated to go to his local certification committee if he has a problem,” Shollenberger says. “We want to make sure the farmer is supported in making the milk safe.”

Details of the legislation have yet to be worked out, but sponsors are already in place: Kathy Pellett, D-Chester, is the lead sponsor, while Jim Hutchinson, D-Randolph, is the co-lead. For more information, contact Rural Vermont at www.ruralvermont.org.

Rutland Farmers Bare Their Souls

A handful of Rutland-area farmers recently tossed off their Carhartts and working boots to pose in the buff for a new 2008 calendar.

The Local Exposure Calendar shows farmers in their homes and on their land, discreetly covered by such delicacies as lettuce rows and cut flowers. It is described as “artistically beautiful and amusingly cheeky” by the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, which benefits from the sales of the calendar. The calendar also includes information on local produce and farmers’ markets.

The Rutland Area Farm and Food Link is a non-profit that seeks to strengthen agriculture in Rutland County. The Local Exposure Calendar can be purchased online at www.rutlandfarmandfood.org or at certain local retail outlets (see the web site for exact locations).

Going a Little "Loca"

This just in from the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary: “locavore” is their 2007 Word of the Year.

Each year, the editors collect a bunch of new words that have entered the American vernacular and decide which one is worthy of their prize. They chose “locavore” this time because the use of local food sources and the practice of eating according to the season has enjoyed a “popularization.”

The word “locavore” tends to be used on the West Coast, while in the East the word has an extra ‘l’: “localvore.” Regardless of where it’s used, the word refers to someone who makes a point of buying food that is grown or raised near their home or in the region where they live; a 100-mile radius is often used. Many locavores/localvores grow their own food. They also tend to reject supermarket offerings as environmentally unsound, since food these days is often shipped great distances.

“The word ‘locavore’ shows how food lovers can enjoy what they eat while still appreciating the impact they have on the environment,” said Ben Zimmer, editor for American dictionaries at Oxford University Press. “It’s significant in that it brings together eating and ecology in a new way.” “Locavore” was coined in 2005 by four women in San Francisco who challenged fellow residents to eat only local food for a month. This year, the word beat out “upcycling” (the transformation of waste materials into something more useful or valuable) and “mumblecore” (a new genre of independent films that use low-budget production, non-professional actors, and largely improvised dialogue) for the Oxford prize.

While the embrace of this word by a noted American dictionary is certainly an achievement, both “locavore” and “localvore” have yet to show up as an accepted word in this writer’s Microsoft spell check

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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Home Stories Issues 2008 Winter 2008 | Issue 3 RAFFL, Loca, and Raw Milk Legislation