Vermont Sail Freight Project

November 14, 2013

the vermont sail freight project brings food down the husband by sailboat and into new york harbors. great slow food mission.

By Raleigh-Elizabeth. Image from the Vermont Sail Freight Project

My New Year’s resolution for 2008 was to go carbon neutral. I did my best to cut down on my carbon footprint, and what I couldn’t eliminate (it does get chilly in New York and I am Southern and therefore perpetually chilled), I compensated with carbon offsets. I bought as much food as I could at the farmer’s market (including flour, which up until then I didn’t realize you could buy there) and lived as local a life as possible. This went great — really, really great — until about March.

And then I flew to Prague and the whole thing fell to pieces. In Budapest I ate tomatoes flown in from Spain. In Vienna I went out for Thai and gulped down a Singha. Back in New York, I failed to pay for any trip offsets (plane fuel, it turns out, is really quite expensive to both buy and offset) and then, sin of all sins, I went to the grocery store, bought some veggies from Mexico, cooked up a box of mac and cheese with some Goya black beans, and watched a Masterpiece Mystery marathon.

My carbon zero project was pretty much an abject failure.

Enter: The Vermont Sail Freight Project.

The Vermont Sail Freight Project centers around the Ceres, a humble little sailboat that hails from (shockingly) Vermont, and sails from the chilly North with a farmer’s haul of produce from local, family-owned farms. It heads down the Champlain and the Hudson brings their bounty all the way to New York harbors where (also not so shockingly) thrilled New Yorkers get to buy delicious foods and into the neat project.

It’s all very old school and everyone including the New Yorker has already waxed poetic about it, so I’ll leave that to those far more skilled than I. What I will say is that I think that food tastes better when it hasn’t spent the majority of its life on I-95 in the back of a metal 18-wheeler, and I don’t think that’s asking too much.

Modernization is a wonderful thing. I love that I can fly to Prague, I love that I can sip a Singha in Vienna, and I love that I can eat avocados in November, even when there’s a surprise snowfall in North Carolina. But more than that, I love good food, good communities, and good missions.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve recently started my list of Thanks for later this month. I’m thankful for all of those things. I’m thankful for all of you (you’re wonderful readers and I have learned so much from all the conversations we’ve had so far). And I’m thankful for projects like this. Projects that connect us back to our food and remind us, once again, how not-simple all of our food consumption is.

As anyone who has ever tried to grow an herb can attest: Food is hard work. Getting it to us in good condition is even harder. And being part of the force that supports our farmers, honors our earth, and feeds our souls? That is hardest of all.

So for every little bit of that, I’m thankful. For the little Ceres, for its concept, crew, community, and the conversation it sparks. They’re like the little boat that could: Let’s hope more and more just like it pop up, and let’s support them every step of the way.

P.S: My husband says this makes me sound crunchy. I’m not really. I’m just a normal person who really, really loves food. And I think you are, too. Tell me: What do you do to try to connect yourself more to your food? Do you eat local? Grow your own? Just dream about it?

P.P.S: Thanks to all who weighed in about us moving to St. Pete. It’s so beautiful there! We can’t wait to call you neighbors. Come over for dinner!

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Just Moms » Blog Archive » Vermont Sail Freight Project
November 14, 2013 at 5:41 pm

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary November 14, 2013 at 9:23 am

It doesn’t make you ‘crunchy’ to appreciate and understand where your food comes from. It’s healthier and tastier the closer to home you can get it. I’m getting better, but I have little kids and can’t entirely eat seasonal, local produce. The summer is pretty easy, but winter is tough in New England. Personally, I could eat the chard and other dark leafy greens, beets, etc, but my boys aren’t huge fans. So this makes it a little more challenging. So I do what I can, I make conscious decisions, and then I let go of any guilt I might feel about buying bananas, or coffee, or really good cheese from France for the holidays.


2 Leelee November 14, 2013 at 10:22 pm

It’s great to eat healthy, local foods when you can, but you need to seriously do some more research into this carbon offset sham so many have bought into. Do you know where that money goes? Have people forgotten the basic fact that plants breathe carbon dioxide? And in some places farmers have to pump extra CO2 into the air because there’s not enough for them to stay healthy? That the polar icecaps have grown 60% by some estimates in the last year? So please, I implore all of you to thoroughly investigate global warming, I mean global cooling, I mean climate change…hmm the name keeps being changed because it doesn’t fit the agenda so I don’t even know what to call it anymore. Reclaim your minds my fellow humans.


3 Amy November 15, 2013 at 6:56 am

I live in st petersburg!
what neighborhood are you moving to?
feel free to be in touch if I can be of assistance!


4 erik andrus November 15, 2013 at 11:19 am

Thanks for writing about us! Glad you enjoyed our efforts.
signed, Erik and the VSFP crew


5 Jen November 17, 2013 at 8:42 am

Wow, I have to say I give you a big pat on the back for doing so well despite your relapse. I agree–it’s hard to dispute the enormous carbon footprint of food transport. We have also tried, with mixed results, to rely less on grocery stores and to eat more locally via a CSA membership.

Also, I hadn’t heard of VSFP. How did I miss this? Living in New York, I will follow this with interest. Thanks for sharing! Great post.


6 Ellen November 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Thank you for talking about VSFP. We had the good fortune to go to one of their market in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We’re still enjoying some of the goods we purchased. The VSFP folks were friendly, organized and most of all inspiring. The food was delicious. An added benefit was it inspired a really great conversation with my teen daughter about the impact of where and how we get our food has on the environment. A nice break from talking about clothes and school gossip! We’re still enjoying some of the less perishable foods we bought. Can’t wait for their return.


7 A Ceres Crush November 20, 2013 at 10:56 am

A little boat will show the way. I love it. And, I’m now inspired. Thanks for this great post.


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