So while unpacking all the great local food we brought back from Burlington, Vermont I was reminded of a conversation I had recently with someone who insisted that eating local and organic was only possible for the rich. I don’t believe this is so, mostly because I was raised on whole, local food. We did not eat processed food, not even “sliced bread in a bag”. We were not rich; my parents were new immigrants and worked hard, but their food habits stemmed from their own upbringing, most especially my mom (who did grow up poor) whose family ate food when it was in season and preserved it for the times it was not. Now as an adult, I continue to eat only whole natural food, but in our house we don’t exercise the same “in-season” restraint my mom practiced. Our income allows us to buy organic whenever we see it in store, and I know that makes us food-priviledged. But convenience aside, and even though it is changing slowly, I still think we lack a real appreciation and expectation for local food. We do not love and demand food from our local farms in the same way other places like Burlington, Vermont do. Everywhere you go you see pride of local farm and industry, and a local food culture that is so ingrained in the fabric of the whole state. Just in case you are wondering where I am going with all of this (again), consider this: we purchased all the food items below at City Market (a grocery co-op) in Burlington. You’ll notice that we bought some big ticket items like meat, cheese, milk, butter, etc. (including enough for a dinner party next week), but what you can’t see is that, in addition to all the fun local goodness below, we also purchased our “regular” weekly groceries, two bottles of wine, freshly made deli sandwiches for our drive home, and a snazzy new cooler bag for the SAME money we spend on our weekly groceries alone here in Toronto. So I ask, how long can we really afford not to eat local?
So what does one do in Stowe once you’ve done all the skiing? Lots!
Sample beer at a local craft brewery:
It always makes me so happy to see people playing and exercising in the glorious outdoors, especially families. I am most impressed by little kids because they don’t care how much they suck, they just want to play and they don’t care how many times they fall, they just get up again. I think I’ve embraced the not-caring-how-much-I suck part, but after two injuries (knee and shoulder) I’m a little more fearful of falling, especially since both injuries, which took two years to recover from (still working on the shoulder recovery), came from relatively minor falls. However, I did “give ‘er” the best I could this weekend on these beautiful mountains, and the best part was being surrounded by so many people who also wanted to play outside regardless of ability. It’s worth noting that this is hardly a place for beginners; I cross country skied the “flat” loops ever time, and as you can see from the photo, Vermonters have an interesting definition of flat, but the spirit of sport and love for outdoors are the most contagious of all.
Of all the places I’ve been, nowhere celebrates the local goodness made by neighbouring farmers, brewers, and cheese-makers as much as Burlington Vermont. I’ve been here yearly for the last five years, but always in the summer when crops are plenty and it’s easy to eat/buy local. I wasn’t sure the same would be true in February, but I was dead wrong. The pride of food and drink can be seen everywhere.
It’s funny how a quick conversation over twitter can ignite all kinds of desires. We’ve gone to Burlington Vermont every summer for four years in a row; it’s a small town, but it has so many things that I love so much, the most important being a love of everything local (especially beer and food) and a love of outdoor play. One day we’ll retire there, but in the meantime, we’ll dream…