VPR Cafe

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The VPR Café is a weekly feature that's all about Vermont food and the people who grow it, prepare it and love it.

VPR's Ric Cengeri talks with food writers from Seven Days and Vermont Life food editor Melissa Pasanen. They share stories from the farms, kitchens and eateries of Vermont that connect our communities.

The concept of eating locally is fully embraced in Vermont for all the right reasons: Fresher foods, the ability to know the farmer and knowing you are leaving a smaller carbon footprint.

But how local does a food have to be to be considered "local?"

Glenn Russell/Burlington Free Press

Sally Pollak, who writes for the Savorvore section of the Burlington Free Press, recently took a culinary tour of fare from France, Italy, Turkey, Bhutan and Viatnam without ever leaving downtown Burlington. She joined VPR Cafe to talk about the food samplings from different cultures.

Glenn Russell/Burlington Free Press

Many local farmers diversify their offerings by creating new products from the things they grow and raise on their land. Farr Farms in Richmond has done just this by making its own gelato from fresh milk.

Dorset Union Store circa 1884, courtesy of Cindy Loudenslager. Photo of the store today by Brooke Wilcox.

A native of Boston, Seven Days food writer Julia Clancy grew up with the notion that Vermont general stores were more nostalgic than useful; buildings full of fudge and flannel rather than ones still used for everyday needs and as a hub of community.

Recently, Clancy took off on a summer-long road trip to visit several general stores throughout the state and found just how vital these stores still are to their communities.

appalachian views / istock

The Morse Farm in Montpelier, that used to just grow vegetables, is now a maple syrup producer, a cross-country center and a mountain bike venue. In the farm world, this is known as value-added agriculture – when farmers use everything the land has to offer.

Glenn Russell / Burlington Free Press

In recent years, Vermont has seen a handful of barbecue restaurants pop up. These eateries seek to bring authentic southern style barbecue to a state that is not thought of as a barbecue destination.

Recently Sally Pollak and Melissa Pasanen, writers for the Savorvore Section of the Burlington Free Press, took a tour of several barbecue restaurants in Vermont.

“This is not grilled meat; this is made in a smoker,” Pasanen says. “Real barbecue has to be cooked low and slow over a hardwood fire in a smoker.”

Matthew Thorsen / Seven Days

There are dozens of farmers markets across Vermont. The number peaked at 87 in 2010 and has since gone down. Still, there are questions about what makes a successful market and how to keep markets thriving in the future.

Ryan Mercer / Burlington Free Press

Greensboro is a small town in Northeast Kingdom on Caspian Lake. But despite its small size, it has gained world recognition for beer and cheese.  

Hill Farmstead has been ranked the best brewery in the world multiple times and Jasper Hill Farm had gotten the same praise for their cheese. Both are in Greensboro.

Melissa Pasanen / Burlington Free Press

Around this time of year zucchini is in abundance and the big question is, what can you make with this vegetable?

Glenn Russell / Burlington Free Press

Vermont’s craft brewing scene has been exploding over the past few years, making it tough to keep up with every new brewery that enters the scene.

Recently, Brent Hallenbeck, a contributor to the Savorvore Section of the Burlington Free Press took a tour of some of the newer breweries in Central Vermont.

Melissa Pasanen / Burlington Free Press

Vermont has a number of diners scattered across the state, serving everything from coffee and pie to a turkey stuffing omelet.

Candace Page

While apples are the most common tree fruit grown in Vermont, you can also grow other fruits like peaches and plums in our cold climate. The development of cold-hardy varieties of fruit trees allows farmers to grow trees that normally wouldn’t survive in Vermont.

Glenn Russell / Burlington Free Press

Last year, the Burlington Food Shelf received a grant to create a special food truck, which is now called The Good Food Truck. Its purpose is to bring food to people who can’t get to the Burlington Food Shelf.

Currently, the Good Food Truck serves around 200 meals a week.

AMR Images / iStock

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that can develop as people age and though it is a serious condition, it can be managed through diet and exercise.

Glenn Russell / Burlington Free Press

Nestled in a corner near the children's barn at Shelburne Farms is a bakery that's been making fresh, artisanal bread for nearly 40 years.

Glenn Russell / Burlington Free Press

When Bread and Butter Farm in Shelburne started, its founders were planning to grow some vegetables, produce dairy products and start a bakery. In the seven years since Bread and Butter Farm was started, they've expanded from just farming to also running a farm store, housing a coffee shop and hosting music classes and summer camps for kids.

Candace Page / Burlington Free Press

Rhubarb grows all over Vermont and can be incorporated nicely into a variety of dishes.

Glenn Russell / Burlington Free Press

Vermont has 250 towns, and in many of them, there might just be one restaurant. However, a number of these restaurants are good enough to make the trek out to the town worth it.

Glenn Russell / Burlington Free Press

Lamb is not the most common meat on the market, but there are still some farmers in Vermont that raise lamb to sell for meat.

Monica Donovan / Burlington Free Press

If you stopped by the Hilton in Burlington at the end of April, you might have thought you had accidently wandered into a speed-dating event. But instead of pairing people, the Vermont Food Matchmaker event pairs food producers and retailers to kindle business relationships.