TV Dinners from VT Dinners

 Photo Credit: Natalie Pelham

Photo Credit: Natalie Pelham

When I first moved back to Vermont for grad school I was way (waaaaayyyy) into the local foods movement. I’m also on the hyper logical side of the Myers Briggs line, so as part of being an enthusiastic young activist, I had a Powerpoint presentation I carted around whenever I appeared on a local foods panel that showed all manner of agricultural disasters – spilled manure lagoons, crop dusting on windy days, disturbing items from PETA – with the headline “All of These Are Local to Someone.” Especially if you’re using state boundaries to define “local”*. I’m a stickler regarding lazy language.

My Powerpoint presentation never really rallied anyone else to demand accurate word choice, but let’s agree that food being “local” does have real meaning, and that meaning isn’t as all inclusive as we often pretend. And don’t get me started on the serious abuse the word “fresh” receives of late**. It’s usually in a team with local. I don’t need to go into the pain this causes me because I wrote a short article about it for Local Banquet a few years ago “What Is Fresh?” Now I’m back to a similar soap box in an article on the Brattleboro-based “VT Dinners”. No it is not okay to use “convenience food” or “frozen meals” as a stand in for “lousy food you should never feed your family.” I got very harrumphy about this during the comment session at a recent Farm to Plate gathering. I ran a takeout restaurant, so you probably already know my feeling on that issue. Now you can see that opinion restated and be introduced to a fun new business from the southern part of the state at the same time. . .  have a read:

From the Spring 2017 Issue of Local Banquet: Set the Table With TV Dinners  

*Happy cows are NOT all from California, and heaven knows California cows are NOT all happy cows. 

**Apologies to my current employer The Vermont Fresh Network. I won’t demand a name change, I promise. 

One comment

  1. Erin

    Glad to hear someone is trying to tackle the issue of Vermont farms producing stellar quality produce–for a couple months a year. Jose and I often talk about how Vermont farmers could capitalize on their strengths, and produce less time-sensitive, value-added food for sale. Maple syrup should just be the beginning…
    We are huge proponents of frozen food–food that we cook at home in great quantity, then freeze. I freeze individual ingredients as they come into season, especially blueberries, roasted Anaheim chiles, corn, etc. Freezing foods we prepare: pesto, stock, soups, bean variations, etc. mean that we are eating organic, local ingredients without any additional cooking. Debating whether we need a chest freezer to avoid the fight with my teeny current one.

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