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!