If you’ve visited Green Mountain at Fox Run in the past few years, you might be familiar with one of our dinner servers, Millicent Johnson. She deftly delivers the evening meal to our guests several nights a week. But what many folks don’t know is that Millicent owns Dairy-Aire Farm (you have to just love that name, right?) and a growing dairy bacterial testing business in nearby Mt. Holly with her husband, Jim.
One of the great side benefits of living in Vermont is that it is easy to find local farmers like Millicent who can supply you with wonderfully delicious and fresh food. The Johnsons raise dairy and beef cattle, pigs, heirloom turkeys, and roasting and laying chickens, and I am happy to be a loyal customer.
The fact of the matter is that animals that are raised on small family farms by people like the Johnsons just taste better. Maybe it’s because they were happier in life than the animals you see in the terrible video footage from the big factory farms. Maybe it’s because the people who are raising them genuinely care about each one of them, let them run around in fresh air, and feed them well (Millicent’s animals often get the produce scraps from the GMFR kitchen). Maybe it’s because they are treated like animals, not like products.
The French have a wonderful word that doesn’t translate well to English, but is a good term to know: Terroir. It refers to the flavors imparted into something (usually referring to wine) due to the ground in which it is grown, the air in which it flourishes, and the weather it experiences. This word flew into my head a couple of weeks ago as I experienced my first taste of one of Millicent’s pigs. Unlike the pork found at the supermarket which is often so lean it’s flavorless, this was full of delicious fat. (Mmmmmmmm.) But it also was full of the “terroir” of the farm. Just like the turkeys and chickens I have enjoyed from the Johnsons in the past, it tasted like mountain air, clean water, good grain, and good earth. In other words, a mouth full of heaven.
In addition to having a freezer full of delicious pork (which I will more often than not be pairing with some lovely legumes, I swear ;) ), I also feel great knowing that I am giving my money to a local family I care about instead of some nameless corporation. You don’t have to live in Vermont to find local farms near you. Many states have organizations and websites to help link small farms and farmers’ markets with hungry people. Try this site to find farms near you, or if you’re in Vermont, click here for some listings. It might be a little more effort than running to the supermarket, but it is worth it – you’ll have good karma for giving back to the community as well as wonderful experiences in your local terroir. And you will also be more aware (dare I say Mindful?) of exactly what you are eating. Do a taste comparison sometime, and I swear you’ll never go back to the supermarket.
Do you have a favorite local farmer or farmers’ market to which you’d like to give a “shout out”?