Egging him on!

5089104827_400e613ee9_zAt a dinner party the other day, I was doing my usual uncomfortable mingling and availing myself of the cheese platter, when I bumped into a causal acquaintance, who, for the sake of this blog, I’ll call Joe. We exchanged pleasantries and somehow got on the subject of “local” food. He said he thought the whole thing was just an “elitist stratification mechanism” and that in his opinion, the masses needed more, not less, abundant, cheap food sources. I said that although I agreed that “local” was being usurped by the “locagentsia” and was reinforcing class boundaries, I did not agree. I said local was important for a host of reasons, from the economic advantages to the importance of food sovereignty (as in, keep your food supply close) and he should expand his thinking. I’m not sure how Joe made this transition, but at this point he erupted into a tirade about local/organic vs. conventional eggs. Continue reading

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Recipe: Oaxacan Chile Rellenos

Shared by Amalia Smith Hale

On Tuesday, we posted a piece about migrant farmworkers in Vermont, many of whom come from the Oaxaca region of Mexico. In celebration of the culinary traditions of that region, (which many UVM students explore through the Oaxaca Study Abroad food systems track), we share the following recipe: Continue reading

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The Invisible Hands of Vermont’s Dairy Industry

10436196_324572427698899_8593644017092551262_nBy Amalia Smith Hale

When I moved to Burlington in September 2013, I remember being blown away by the idyllic serenity and beauty of the Vermont landscape. I took a four-day bike ride with my family through the country roads that meandered through the endless rolling hills. Every day, we chose a local farm to stop at for lunch and enjoyed an abundance of fresh, local and organically produced fruits, veggies and dairy products. It was easy to get swept up by the perfection of it all. I had never lived in a place with so much public attention on food! I was experiencing a new sensation of pleasure about food, a connectedness to the origins of what I was eating. No longer was my food anonymous, and this instilled in me a strong sense of place and belonging. I was interested to know the story behind this perfection. Is it really as flawless and utopic as it all seems? Is it possible that Vermont has fully distanced itself from the harmful production, distribution and consumption practices that prevail in the rest of the country? Continue reading

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Meat vs Veg: An energy perspective

What ought we eat? This is among the preeminent questions of our time, one asked by policy wonks, diet gurus, and, of course, consumers. People imbue a wide array of values into their dietary choices, including impacts on their health, cost, and environmental impacts, among others. The question of what to eat generates a particularly generous array of fireworks when it pits plant eaters—vegans and vegetarians—against consumers of animal flesh. I do life cycle energy audits within the agricultural sector and have accumulated enough data to see a fascinating story emerge regarding one particular aspect of food production: its energy intensity. In this essay I’ll present data on the energy intensity of animal- and plant-derived foods, and hopefully contribute to a constructive dialog about what we ought to eat and how we ought to be producing it. Continue reading

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Vermont’s New GMO Labeling Law: A small step, and a giant leap

GMO Labeling Law CroppedBy David Zuckerman

On May 8, 2014, Governor Shumlin signed into law H.112, AN ACT RELATING TO THE LABELING OF FOOD PRODUCED WITH GENETIC ENGINEERING. This is the first law in the U.S. to require foods that contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients be labeled. It will also restrict the terms “natural,” “all natural,” and other similar terms for being used on food products that contain GE ingredients. Continue reading

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