Local Farm Stands
Last weekend I took my first trip up to Burlington, Vermont in ten years. Two things struck me while I was up there. The first is how environmentally conscious they are. Different trash cans for recyclables and compost. Recycled plastic used to make the tableware. You can even choose to flush the toilet with less water if you please.
The second thing that struck me was their locavore attitude. It seemed like everything you ate or drank was local. Produce from local farms, coffee roasted in the state, and of course Vermont cheddar. Then there was the beer. In fact, some restaurants only served local brews. My friend had tipped me off on one beer in particular that was at the center of the town’s social life. The Alchemist’s Heady Topper. I stopped at the brewery on my way up and was impressed. Heady Topper is the only beer The Alchemist brews and is a top rated Double India Pale Ale with a lot of depth to its flavor. But it is not overly hoppy, so even if you don’t love an IPA you’ll still enjoy this one. Customers were carrying it out by the case. Still, I thought he had overstated the importance of this particular beer until we got to Burlington. Everywhere I went people were drinking it, unless the place was sold out. It definitely has a distinct cult following. I’ve really never seen anything like it. You cannot purchase it outside of Vermont so you’ll need to get up there to give it a try. You can learn more about Heady Topper here: http://www.alchemistbeer.com/
Naturally the locavore attitude displayed on my visit to Vermont got me thinking about the local farm stands I frequent during the summer months. I definitely advocate purchasing food at your local farm stand and some of the larger stands also double as a clearing house for some of the smaller local farms in the area. So you might be supporting more local farmers than you think. But it is important to remember that not everything sold at farm stands is necessarily local. You need to pay close attention to the signs to see what actually is local, (and trust your judgement!). For example, if you are looking for local strawberries, the Northeast strawberry season is mostly over in August. If you find strawberries read the sign and inspect the fruit. You know what local strawberries look like. They are a brighter red than the mass-produced California or Florida variety and also tend to be smaller and misshapen, not in a perfect cone like the ones at your grocery store. (I’ve included a picture of local strawberries at the bottom of this post just in case you’re not sure.) Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still purchase them at the farm stand, but you should know that they are not local.
My favorite Long Island farm stands are Round Swamp Farms (184 Three Mile Harbor Road, East Hampton) and Hayground Market (1616 Montauk Highway, Bridgehampton). (Feel free to let me know about your favorite farm stand in the comments section below! I’m always looking for new ones.)
This week’s tip: August is the beginning of local corn season in Long Island. The season peaks in September. This corn is so sweet you can actually eat it raw and there’s no need to throw it on your grill. Raw corn is a great way to add a little more bite and sweetness to your summer salads.
I would be remiss if I didn’t congratulate Kyle Garvey and Elizabeth Mooney on their wedding last weekend. That’s the reason I was in Burlington. The reception at Shelburne Farms was spectacular and I wish them many years of health and happiness!