Since recently moving to Jericho, Vermont, I have decided to embrace the 30 minute drive into the ‘city’ and am excited to take part in things I think define a ‘country lifestyle.’
(Not completely blind to this idea, I did grow up in Maine owning and caring for an assortment of animals, but as will happen, I spent college and some years after exploring other ways of living in New York City…some things get lost in translation.)
Lucky enough to be a transplant in this area, I am less afflicted (as some neighbors my age) with the fear of being a ‘townie’ and I am able to explore and embrace my surroundings without feeling the desire to leave. At the same time, being new to the area makes it harder to know what’s good – to meet people, farmers, find even decent grocery stores or the bank, not to say even farm stands. One of my first goals is to find a place or series of farms where I can buy as much of my groceries locally as possible.
So last week I drove down River Road in search for one of these elusive farm stands (which should not be so allusive, first problem?) in hopes I would find some where that I could frequent this summer. I passed a few signs saying ‘eggs’ but stopped at one with an intriguing sign saying ‘self-serve.’
I pulled off to the side of the drive, and stepped out. A radio was quietly murmuring in the barn, and I noticed a sign saying ‘baby turkeys.’ There was no one else around, though, so I wandered through the yard shouting ‘hello?’ as to not startle anyone, and took a quick picture of the baby turkeys on my cell phone. (Their days of cuteness are numbered.) Taking a brave step around back, I came across a shirtless Steve and his wife Wendy tending to the chickens. Apologizing, I inquired as to where I could find the eggs. Steve, introducing himself and his wife Wendy said not to worry, most people can’t find them first. They are simply in a small refrigerator right under the ‘eggs’ sign. Embarassed anyway, I joked with him that I was wondering if ‘self-serve’ meant that I had to collect the eggs from the layers myself. I hoped I had conveyed the humor in what I was saying to him, as (having chickens myself growing up) it wouldn’t have been that alien to me. Driving up, I had visions of myself, in skirt and flip flops, covering my head with one arm while the other blindly searched among feathers and feet for the still-warm prizes.
For the first time I was thankful for the 94 Ford Ranger I was driving. Perhaps it provided me with some sort of legitimacy in Steve’s eyes as a Vermonter. I bought a dozen for 3.75 (well, I left a ‘5’ in the jar) – they were huge, bursting out of the recycled egg carton that Steve’s regular customers return to him. “We’ve also got extra-large, mostly double yokers…” I thanked him; jumbo was certainly big enough.
I believe these eggs are better than store bought, but does that make them so? The argument can be made that they are more ‘natural’ – they are free range (I could see the chickens running around myself), and do not under go any processing except the washing Steve or Wendy does. Then, hand, stove, mouth.
Driving home I smile, looking at the dozen sitting on the passenger seat beside me, busting from the container. I show Jamie my prize when I get home. Are they still simply a novelty for me? Natural is a term with a lot of stigma surrounding it. It barely means anything on it’s own – now every time it’s used we must define it. Despite this issue though, I think most people want more of this…natural thing.
If I feel better about serving a certain food, food with a happier story, I think it is better for those I am serving it to.
To be continued...