Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vermont Rules for Foodies

Vermont is home to a lot of artisanal bakers, cheese makers, and food entrepreneurs. In fact, we have an association, The Vermont Specialty Food Association and a Food Venture Center ( to assist food entrepreneurs in the start up stage. As small specialty food producers, we find safety in numbers. We share knowledge among us, and when a new food entrepreneur emerges, we go out of our way to help him or her figure out everything from how to source ingredients, to working with brokers, to how distributors work (the answer is “dysfunctionally,” lol.) Several Vermont companies provided invaluable informational support in our startup a little over three years ago, and we always find it heartening to pay back that advice. And, every time we get together, whether it is over association socials, or sharing exhibit space at shows like Natural Products Expo East and the New York Fancy Food Show, I always learn something new from other Vermont vendors.

Our state is also very supportive of food entrepreneurs. After all, specialty food is the fastest growing segment of the retail industry, and all of our little businesses add up when it comes to employment. Recently, for example, the state and the local development authority managed to attract a new organic yogurt company to locate in Brattleboro, VT. They will use the milk of 3,000 cows daily and provide 24 jobs over the next three years.

And every year, Senator Patrick Leahy holds a showcase event called “Taste of Vermont” in the US Senate Office Building, to which all Vermont food vendors are invited to participate. He hires a wonderful Vermont catering firm to prepare dishes from our foods, and invites about 500 Washington, DC law makers, restaurant buyers, food professionals, and press members to attend. This year, they will again serve our cheese pizza and pesto pizza (last year we were next to Magic Hat Brewery—what a combination!), as well as our baguettes made into bruschetta with fresh Mountain Mozzarella from Maplebrook Farm ( in Bennington, VT.

Vermont is a great place to work and run a food-related business. We attract the neatest, most caring, and most creative workforce. We can grow kitchen herbs outside our factory door, picnic in organic grass for lunch, and go for a run or bike ride at the end of the day, practically outside our front door. Our dog can even come to work with us (except that he’s restricted to managing the office, not the production floor.) Vermont Rules for foodies!

No comments: