Serving Up Vermont
Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to listen and speak at the NOFA-VT Winter Conference, held at the University of Vermont. How amazing it was to be surrounded by inspiring and dedicated people making incredible change in the world! We’ve got a great community in this state, and I am thankful for it every day.
Move over sriracha - there are some new spices in town! Okay, not exactly new as these spices are essential flavorings for traditional food cultures in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, however these spices and flavors are taking center stage right now in American food culture. But don’t worry if you’ve never heard the likes of spice pastes like gochujang or sambal oelek – this quick primer will get you ready to experience a new level of flavor!
Look up “Food Trends in 2016” on the internet and I can guarantee you’ll see something on almost every list that says “seaweed is the new kale.” Kale is still a nutritional powerhouse, but seaweed ups the game, with its vibrant color, chewy texture, and unique flavor.
Seaweed is formed from marine algae and comes in many forms and is organized by color – brown, green, or red. It can be high in protein, Vitamin B12, trace minerals, iodine*, and omega-3 fatty acids. Seaweed grows in salt water and doesn’t need any fertilizer to thrive. It absorbs dissolved nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon dioxide directly from the water, and grows and reproduces quickly.
We have a list of Global Ends that guides our business and all that we do. One of our Global Ends is “strengthening the local food system,” which is met through a myriad of activities and programs including highlighting and selling local products (37% of sales in fiscal year 2015 were local and made in Vermont products), planning farm tours and crop mobs for the community, our Co-op Patronage Seedling Grants Program and our Local Farm and Producer Investment Program.
Those of us living in northern climates who like to eat fresh foods during the winter are likely well-versed in root vegetables. Beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, turnips and the like are readily available to us throughout the cold months. But one can only eat so many root vegetables before they become blasé (really, how many ways can you eat turnips?).
It’s important all year round to practice self-care, but it can be especially fitting when the start of a new year rolls around. After leap frogging from house to house for nearly two weeks straight over the holidays, I finally gave the last of my visitors a loving boot and sank into my couch with a warm cup of tea and a new book. Eager to take some time to myself, I settled in…but only to fall asleep three pages into the first chapter. I bid farewell to 2015 with a long overdue nap, and took the New Year as an opportunity to reboot.
We’ve all been there – stuck without an idea for dinner, either because you only have a short time to prepare a meal, you are tired from a long day and don’t have the energy to make an elaborate meal, or you’ve just run out of inspiration. The next time you’re in a pinch, try one of the following recipes. All three are in my “Recipes in a Snap” toolkit.
raised tried to raise me to have a tidy kitchen. I loved baking from a young age, and she was always there supporting me as my dedicated taste-tester and advice-giver, but pleading from the sidelines that I please, please clean up as I go. Try as she might, I never quite got the hang of it and still prefer to do a deep clean after a full day or afternoon of work.
Healthy soil is the key to so much: healthy food, clean water, increased crop yields, drought resistance. It’s integral to a healthy food system, but for the last 50 years or so, it’s been relegated to the background as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, tillage, and monocropping have come to the forefront. Dust storms that harken back to the dust bowl are still the reality in areas where soil is left bare and exposed to the wind, particularly in the Midwest and Southwest. However, as we look to improve water quality in Vermont and to develop a strong and sustainable food system, more attention is being refocused on the health of our soils.
Last month, the James Beard Foundation hosted their 6th annual conference tackling the very large topic “Rethinking the Future of Food.” I will say, this is no easy feat. Breaking it down into three perspectives, speakers, panelists, and participants examined this topic through the lenses of the future of health, the future of the kitchen, and the future of the farm.