Embracing local food

Bronwyn Dunne, above at the Bread & Butter Farm produce stand, promotes the importance and joy of home cooking with an emphasis on local produce on her blog “In the Kitchen with Bronwyn.”

Many of us are adjusting to the fact that our Saturday outings to the farmers market on the Shelburne green are over for another season. Saturday’s weekly gathering provided an opportunity to stroll outside, visit, listen to music, and return home with amazing local produce, Vermont products, and artisan wares. Rather than mourn the passing of a good thing, we should embrace the fact that access to local food is a growing movement that continues to connect us with our local farmers and communities. We won’t be gathering at the farmers market green until spring, however there are still many options to enjoy local food.

Local food has many faces. Shelburne boasts a wide array of restaurants. With  over 20 eateries in our town that range from a local burger eatery to a more formal dining experience at an elegant French restaurant, there a multitude of options to enjoy good food close to home. Several farms grace our landscape including two recent ones; New Village Farm and Bread and Butter Farm, both offering eggs, meat, vegetables, and other assorted edible items. Shelburne Farms is always a good bet for cheese. We have a local winery and local brewery located right across from each other. On the greater food landscape there are businesses sprouting as well like local ice cream that clearly embrace the local food movement as one that is good for us and good for our local economy as well!

Anyone who has had the opportunity to bite into a fresh carrot, tomato, or local cheese cannot help but recognize amazing these amazing tastes. It is not the same as the food we eat that has traveled hundreds of miles by truck to our tables. Fresh local food not only tastes better, but it is healthier, too. Think about starting your own garden or join a community garden.

This month Bronwyn Dunne, a friend of mine, shared her recently created blog, “In the Kitchen with Bronwyn.”  It offers a culinary online center dedicated to promoting the importance and joy of American home cooking with an emphasis on local products and talent, celebrating the unique spirit and energy of the new food ethos, especially in Vermont. I asked for her thoughts on local food since she has been a local food “foodie” for decades. Dunne said, “Americans spend a much smaller percentage of their income on food as compared with western Europeans. If Americans were willing to give up the idea that food has to be cheap, we would definitely eat better and healthier. It’s just a matter of changing what matters in your life, good health or cheap food!”

Another friend, Greg Georgaklis started a business called “Farmers to You,” where he delivers a cornucopia of some of the best food in New England to Boston. His business enables Boston area families to reconnect with the land through the food they eat and benefit from the delicious and nutritious bounty of Vermont. He supports about 35 Vermont farmers and producers who create superior food, lovingly steward their land, and enrich their communities.

Georgaklis’ passion for offering folks good food is inspirational; he clearly gets that you don’t have to be in the 1 percent to enjoy good food. He shares, “For sustainable agriculture to be sustainable in the community, farmers and producers need customers who are consistent and appreciate the subtly of high quality food that is produced by smaller scale craft farmers and who don’t see this as  a luxury item, but rather as essential to their families health. The benefits to their communities and to Vermont is that a sustainable food based economy is not tourist based and provides jobs that honor craft and intelligence which is what farming is all about. If we do this right, Vermont has the potential to be a leader in rebuilding small scale sustainable food systems!”

My oldest daughter, a freshman at a Midwest college, constantly shares with us how much she misses the food in Vermont. Of course she does, so let’s appreciate, celebrate, and support Vermont’s unique and vibrant local food culture.

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