Eat Local Day

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(HOST) Tomorrow is Vermont’s Eat Local Day. And commentator Mary Barrosse Schwartz is planning to visit her local farmers’ market.

(BARROSSE) Vermont farm stands and farmers’ markets seldom hold big surprises for me. As much as I love our fresh produce, I’m pretty familiar with what grows well here. But recently, a little fruit I found at a local farm stand took me completely by surprise. It was a little husk cherry or Cape gooseberry. It looked like a miniature tomatillo and tasted sweet like a strawberry or cherry. It was a lovely discovery.

Buying from the market is now routine for my family, since we’re trying to eat more locally produced foods.

Eat Local Challenges are just wrapping up here in Southwestern Vermont, as well as in Burlington and Mad River. Next week the folks in Bennington will highlight their local food producers with an eat local week too.

And now there’s a statewide day to celebrate local sustainable agriculture.

Vermonters are leading the nation in the consumption of local food, based on per capita direct sales from farmers to consumers. And tomorrow, Saturday, September 22 has been designated Local Foods Day by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, the University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture; and a consortium of like-minded organizations. In celebration of the state’s growth in locally raised and produced foods, this group is encouraging every Vermonter to try at least two new local foods.

And this is just one way Vermonters are supporting local agricuture. The legislature voted this year to support the farm to school – or FEED program. There’s a farm to restaurant program, localvore challenges, community supported agriculture, and the Intervale’s work on developing a local urban food hub. People are choosing local food for freshness, quality, a sense of community and connection to farmers and the land, and as an economic investment, supporting local farmers’ livelihoods, longer-term food security and a post-peak oil future.

Local Food Day coincides with farmers’ markets throughout the state and several Vermont harvest festivals, where local foods like apples, squash, cider, and cheese are sure to be found this time of year. But many less familiar foods are likely to be available too – like Goat’s milk butter and cheese, water buffalo yogurt, venison jerky, currant preserves, wild mushrooms, emu and elk meat – and maybe even more of those sweet little husk cherries.

Mary Barosse Schwartz is a children’s advocate and consultant living in East Dorset.

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