Farming and Food: Vermont Photography
The localvore movement has captured the imagination of the public in the last few years, making terms like "locally grown" and "slow food" appealing to the average consumer. But Burlington, Vermont has been doing this for decades, since organic food and local co-ops were a modest market niche reserved for hippies and new-agers.
Vermont leads the nation in per-capita direct sales of produce from farmers to consumers. In 1989 the Intervale launched Vermont's first CSA, the second in the country. Today, the Intervale is home to eleven farms and has an 'incubator' program to help new farmers get off the ground. There are 7,000 farms in Vermont, ranging from conventional dairy to grass-fed organic beef to diversified CSA farms.
Vermont prides itself in being fiercely independent, being one of four states in which billboards are banned and the only state whose capitol doesn't have a McDonald's. Ironically, Burlington's only McDonald's went out of business after languishing on a side street for years, and the building was purchased by Farmhouse Tap and Grill, a farm-to-table restaurant.
The food scene in Burlington is bustling; it's not unusual to see a menu loaded with seasonal produce and specialty items from neighborhood farms. Restaurants such as Farmhouse design their menu based on collaborations with farms, and offer dishes based on what is seasonally available, fresh, and delicious.
It takes more than a few catchy slogans and a local farmer's market to change the way consumers buy their food. A change in the food system requires changing not just the way we eat, but drastic changes in our mindset and lifestyle as well. In the last year I've been exploring food culture in Burlington, starting with the fields and following food to its final destination.