Local Food

All About the Beans

In Vermont, we are fortunate enough to have some locally-produced staple foods such as eggs, cheese, yogurt, and bread available year-round, but as the cold months of winter progress, it becomes more and more challenging to eat locally. As the variety of local produce diminishes, we are left daydreaming of the return of the green landscape and the bounty that our dedicated farmers provide.

Adventures with Medlars

It all started with a free bag of medlars.  I had been interested in using medlars for some time, and so when a free bag of medlars close to their prime were offered up by our Produce Department in December, I snagged them to make medlar jelly.

Farm Visit: Miskell's Premium Organics

Earlier this month, a few of us from the Co-op went out to visit one of our favorite farmers: David Miskell, from Miskell's Premium Organics in Charlotte.  You can find Miskell's produce in our Produce Department, as well as on our Hot and Cold Food Bars. 

Champlain Valley Creamery Cheese Tasting

Last week, City Market staff members had the pleasure of attending a brief cheese tasting with Carleton Yoder of Champlain Valley Creamery.  Located in Middlebury, Champlain Valley Creamery has been making certified organic cheeses and cream cheese for the past 11 years.  The milk that Champlain Valley Creamery uses comes from Blissful Dairy in Bridport, VT.  Blissful Dairy is certified organic and also supplies Organic Valley with milk.

Reusing Produce Scraps - for Chickens!

By Clem Nilan, Local Food Project Manager

Co-op shoppers are besotted with Besteyfield Farm’s eggs, purchasing over 8,000 dozens in 2014. Ben Butterfield is the proprietor of the 650 bird chicken farm located in the Intervale, our local treasured farming mecca just a quick walk from the Co-op. On a recent tour of his farm, Ben told Co-op staffers that his biggest challenge is the cost of chicken feed. Ben was able to reduce cost by obtaining spent grains from area brewers and his hens love it. This got us thinking. Why not use some of our “spent” produce that winds up in compost bins?

A Visit to Morningstar Meadows Farm

This past week, a few of us from the Co-op headed out to the Northeast Kingdom to visit one of our organic dry bean producers: Morningstar Meadows Farm.  The farm is operated by Seth and Jeannette Johnson (and their 3 young children) and is a diverse operation – in addition to organic dry beans, Seth and Jeannette also raise beef cows, breed golden retrievers, and care for 4 Belgian draft horses. 

Grafton Village Cheese Tasting

After taking a brief hiatus, City Market staff cheese tastings are back, and we kicked it off with a special visit from Wendy Brewer from Grafton Village Cheese.  The Grafton Cooperative Cheese Company (yep, they started as a cooperative of dairy farmers!) was founded in 1892 to make surplus milk into cheese. In 1912, a fire destroyed the Grafton Cooperative Cheese Company’s factory, and the company laid dormant for a few decades.  In the mid-1960s, the Windham Foundation restored the company and now serves as the parent company of Grafton Village Cheese. The Foundation’s mission is to promote Vermont’s rural communities, and Grafton Village Cheese fulfills this mission by purchasing milk from local dairy farms (primarily Jersey cow milk), participating in the local economy, and supporting local community events.

A Visit to Amir's Mushrooms

Some City Market staff members recently organized a bike ride out to Colchester to visit Amir Hebib’s mushroom house to visit with Amir and learn more about the mushrooms and plants he cultivates.  Before moving to Vermont from Bosnia in 1996, Amir managed one of the largest mushroom operations in Europe.

The Cellars at Jasper Hill Cheese Tasting

Last week, City Market staff had the privilege of attending a special cheese tasting with Adam Smith, Head Caveman at The Cellars at Jasper Hill.  The topic was bloomy-rinded cheeses, those delightfully soft, often white, squiggly-molded cheeses that seem to be so popular these days.  Bloomy-rinded cheeses are usually made from pasteurized milk, as they are typically aged less than 2 months (raw milk needs to be aged at least 60 days).  For bloomy-rinded cheeses, either the milk is inoculated with a specific mold culture, or the cheese is misted with the mold culture to produce a rind that ripens from the outside in.  Most cheesemakers purchase mold cultures to inoculate cheeses, but over time, a layer of microbes coat the walls of cheese caves and eventually become very specific to place. Given this, it makes sense that The Cellars’ tag line is “A Taste of Place,” as very site-specific microbes contribute to the taste of all The Cellars’ cheeses.  Much like how the term terrior is used to discuss place-specific tastes of wine, so can the term be used when talking about cheeses. 

And the Beet Goes On

This week we’re continuing an annual tradition that I’m fond of, our local food recipe competition. Picking one extra special ingredient, we ask the community to submit their favorite recipes based on that theme. It’s like Iron Chef*, but without all the pressure or the video cameras (actually, it’s not really like Iron Chef at all). This year’s special ingredient is… beets!

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