Column, Living the Dream

Lucky to live amongst great local food

By Merisa Sherman

Tarentaise. Ascutney Mountain. Grafton Maple Smoked Cheddar. Vermont Smoke & Cure Summer and Fortuna’s Cacciatorini Sausages paired with some fresh made six-grain bread and all washed down with some Mac & Maple Cider.

It’s amazing to think of all the wonderful foods we have in Vermont just at the tip of our fingers. The other night we set out for a dinner paddle on the water and laid out a charcuterie and cheese plate in the middle of the canoe. We snacked for hours while we paddled around and watched the sunset. A true alpine meal that would have been at home in the Swiss Alps. What we didn’t realize until later was that each and every single item on the plate was born and raised in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

When we got home, we checked our fridge just to check a theory. We saw a pattern. Wagner Farm eggs. Thomas Dairy milk. Black River ground beef and Misty Knoll chicken. King Arthur flours and Cabot butter.

Vermont salumis and more Vermont cheeses. Homemade jelly from our neighbor’s berries and ramps foraged by some friends. Soon, there will be fiddleheads as well as asparagus and spring peas from our own garden. We hadn’t meant to buy local, we just did.

For the first few summers I lived here, I had the good fortunate of working at the Woodstock Farmer’s Market. After an intensive training process, my mind was awakened to a whole new world. There I learned the difference between processed cheese and real cheese, between factory farmed animals and grassfed ones and between Wonder Bread and everything else. I had never eaten so many different types of cherries in my entire life. It was absolutely amazing.

Over the past few weeks, the entire world has been reopening their kitchens and dusting off their mixers. I love everyone comparing their banana breads and bragging about their sourdough starters. I’ve seen all kinds of food being prepared by people who never thought they’d really have to cook for themselves again, especially in a town where so many of us work in the restaurant industry. We don’t often get to eat at home unless it’s chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks from Jax at 2:30 in the morning.

But now? We’ve made homemade pasta and meatballs, as well as biscuits with sausage gravy from scratch. The bf has taught himself how to make perfect poached eggs and I have made everything from tortillas to crackers. In the beginning of StayAtHome, we took photographs of every meal because we were shocked by our own greatness and joked about making a cookbook just so we could remember that we actually knew how to cook. It’s been a super fun adventure and one that we have actually been extremely grateful for.

Here in Vermont, we are blessed to have so many wonderful and easily accessible sources of food. I was so very excited to curbside pickup homemade breads, farm fresh eggs and real croissants at Dream Maker and a whole slew of local meats and cheeses from the Woodstock Farmer’s Market this weekend. For so many of us, cooking has become a treasured pastime these past few months. And I am so very, very grateful to live where local food isn’t just a movement – it’s a way of life.

Please consider supporting our communities by buying local products, making a donation to your local food bank or growing an extra row or two this summer. Together, we are “Vermont Strong.”

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