Meeting Stonyfield Yogurt's partner farmers truly inspired me. They are passionate about and dedicated to producing good, organic food.
One of the great perks of my job is when I get to visit new, picturesque places and meet farmers who so passionately live for their work. I got this in spades when Stonyfield invited me to Vermont to visit some of their partner organic family farms and to hear from their co-founder Gary Hirschberg. I’m not sure what I expected, but after spending two days meeting with the farmers and hearing Gary’s mission of (basically) converting our whole planet to organic, I left truly inspired.
I was delighted to see that these farms are true family farms, as Stonyfield doesn’t actually own their own dairy farms. In order to work with Stonyfield, these farms have to be organic, which basically means that the cows predominantly eat grass from the pasture and are not exposed to pesticides, antibiotics, or other chemicals. Being organic is not only best for the animals and the land, these farmers spoke passionately about the benefits to their families as well.
I heard one story of a farmer who converted to organic because he had a lightbulb moment when he realized that he could not come home from a day’s work in the field and hug his children without stopping in a shed to wash off pesticide residues first. Now that his farm is organic, his kids can ride on the tractor with him and spend time helping out, hopefully inspiring a future generation of responsible farming.
We all loved petting the cows! It was so cute that they responded like little puppies – they love the attention! It was a joy to see the farmers’ love for their cows – one was reluctant to switch to organic BECAUSE she loves them so much. She was afraid that her cows would get sick without antibiotics, but she was happy to discover that when they were in a healthy ecosystem, with grass to eat and a pasture to roam in, the cows simply didn’t get as sick. Someone else said that they paid more for their dog’s vet bills than for keeping their cows healthy after switching to organic.
Of course, we had the pleasure of enjoying meals full of great organic produce every day of the trip. Pictured above was a wonderful farm lunch at Green Wind Farm, where we had one of many meals sitting around the table listening to Gary’s stories of starting Stonyfield and his passion for organics.
The final dinner was on the hilltop of Philo Ridge Farm at sunset, hosted by Blue Apron‘s Culinary Team. The evening kicked off with hors d’oeuvres, Blue Apron wines, and a tour of Philo Ridge. Then we had an amazing, interactive farm-inspired dinner. The chefs spoke about their sourcing philosophy, namely the emphasis on seasonality and sustainability. It was fun to chat with Blue Apron’s head chef John Adler about their processes for creating and testing recipes that are fun (and educational!) for people to make. Their dedication to bringing people around the table with an incredible meal experience was so apparent, especially with details like decorating the table with fresh herbs as the centerpiece so we could DIY garnish our dishes – I may steal this idea for my next dinner party!
We ended the meal with the cake that inspired this pound cake recipe, and took home samples and instructions for a special sunflower seed granola recipe. All in all, an amazing way to end my trip to beautiful Vermont.