Farm to School is healthy eating…

Apparently great minds think alike…this week the Montpelier Bridge published its annual Health and Wellness issue, and Seven Days published its annual Health and Fitness issue. Seems like there’s a groupthink happening somewhere…

I noticed the same thing when speaking with practitioners for the my Bridge article this week. Everyone interviewed reiterated what we’ve all been hearing for a while now…and what our great-grandparents knew without having to be told: Whole grains. Diverse and lean protein. Fresh fruits and vegetables.

So it was particularly reassuring, at yesterday’s Farm to School Celebration at the Statehouse, to hear Commissioner of Health Dr. Harry Chen state that Farm to School programs are part of the Vermont Department of Health’s efforts to reduce the costs associated with chronic disease and educate young people about the nutritive value of food.

Young representatives from schools through Vermont cited cafeteria offerings like parsnip fries, baked squash, and cornbread made from local ingredients. “It’s great to see all the little kids lining up for the salad bar,” a young woman from Cabot said about her school’s program supported by VT FEED.

For today’s young people to maintain these eating habits into adulthood, those of us who are currently adults need to keep on supporting school gardens and other community healthy eating and cooking programs – through funding, volunteer efforts, and role modeling.

Does your local school have a school garden? If not, what would need to happen to get one started? Inquiring minds want to know…

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Salt Cafe’s cookbook bookshelf

Dan Green and Suzanne Podhaizer, co-owners of Salt Cafe, relocated to Montpelier from Burlington to open their restaurant, and while the boxes are barely unpacked at their apartment, Podhaizer notes that all her favorite cookbooks have made it onto the shelves at the restaurant. Some of those titles?

Salted (of course!)
Sauces
Stir
The Flavor Bible
Vegetable Love
Cupboard Love

Between braising and baking, afternoons are likely to find the pair browsing cookbooks and food magazines for inspiration, contributing to the comfortable, home-kitchen atmosphere that regulars find so appealing. Lately they’ve been perusing seed catalogs too, as they’re collaborating with a few local farmers who will grow for the restaurant.

Green spent most of the last year working at Jericho Settlers’ Farm, an experience which has strengthened his commitment to using every part of the ingredients that come his way. “We want as closed a loop as possible,” he notes, “which comes from a place of respect for the farmers and for the animal.”

Frequent guests may note another kind of respect too—respect for each other. Despite the stresses of quitting two jobs, moving to a new town, and opening a restaurant, Green and Podhaizer both readily note that they are getting along quite well and are enjoying this new opportunity. Maybe some of those cookbooks – Cupboard Love comes to mind – contain relationship advice too?!

Montpelier stands to benefit greatly from the pair’s energy and enthusiasm, as well as their great food. Reservations are greatly appreciated so they can ensure a table for all who arrive. BYOB for the moment, until the liquor license is approved; check when you call to reserve. 229-6678.

Check out their profile in today’s Times-Argus. (The Times-Argus has recently moved its content behind a paywall – to support those who report and publish the local news.)

Cozy, creative Ariel’s

Let the snow be your excuse to venture out to picturesque Brookfield Village for “International Pub Night” at Ariel’s Restaurant. Chef Lee Duberman is traveling around the world, culinarily speaking, this winter, and tonight she invites guests to visit London. She’ll be making steak and kidney pie and bangers and mash, house-made with their own local veal and pork.

The menu also includes Green Mountain Highland beef burgers, and having sampled one of these myself last Thursday, I can confidently say that this is the best burger in town now that the Black Door is no more. Perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked, and Duberman’s husband and partner in culinary greatness will suggest the perfect glass of wine to complement your meal.

These two know how to concoct a wonderful dining experience in the cozy atmosphere of their home-based restaurant. Check it out!