The Localvore’s Holiday Pantry

Looking to stock up your pantry with holiday staples from local farmers and producers? Here’s a handy guide to the local offerings by department:


The produce department is bursting with holiday staples from local farms including plenty of winter squash, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, rutabagas, apples, apple cider, cabbage, cranberries, and winter greens like kale and spinach. The local farms we have to thank for this abundance include Golden Russet, Elmer Farm, Four Pillars Farm, Burt Rock Farm, New Leaf Organics, Harlow Farm, Champlain Orchards, Sunrise Orchard, and Vermont Cranberry Company.


In Bulk, you’ll find lots of local items to meet your holiday baking needs including whole wheat flours, all-purpose flours, bread flours, pastry flours, and cornmeal thanks to the fine folks at Gleason Grains, King Arthur Flour, Champlain Valley Milling, and Nitty Gritty Grains. You’ll also find local maple syrup from Hillsboro Sugarworks and honey from Singing Cedars Apiaries.


The grocery department is well stocked with local holiday favorites including packaged flours from King Arthur Flour; culinary oils from Full Sun Company; Olivia’s stuffing; maple syrup from Hillsboro Sugarworks and Shaker Maple Farm, honey from Lemon Fair Honeyworks, Singing Cedars, Champlain Valley Apiaries, However Wild Farm, and Ariel’s Honey Infusions; maple sugar from Little Hogback Farm; pie crusts from Krin’s Bakery; pepper jelly from Jed’s Northeast Kingdom; and an abundant selection of jams, preserves, and chutneys from Blake Hill Preserves.

Cheese & Dairy

Our cheese case boasts over 100 different local cheese options for your holiday cheese and charcuterie platters!  There are far too many to name here, but the cheese department staff is always happy to offer suggestions for fabulous cheese platters and pairings. For local holiday staples in the dairy case, look for milk & heavy cream from Monument Farm, Strafford Organic Creamery, and Kimball Brook Farm. Also be sure to check out the famous butter & buttermilk from Animal Farm and fantastic cream cheese from Champlain Valley CreameryVermont Creamery has you covered for local butter, mascarpone, and crème fraîche, plus there are plenty of eggs from a number of local farms. Oh, and don’t miss the local eggnog from Strafford – it’s a staff favorite!

Deli & Bakery

An abundance of freshly baked bread and rolls come to us from Red Hen, The Bakery, The Manghis’, Green Rabbit, O Bread, La Panciata, and Klinger’s. You’ll also find local stuffing mix from La Panciata along with a gluten-free stuffing mix from West Meadow Bakery. ‘Tis the season for pies and in the bakery you’ll find fresh fruit pies from Krin’s Bakery, Vermont Gluten Free, Champlain Orchards, and Red Door Bakery.

Champlain Orchards Apple Pie. Photo by S.P. Reid

Business of the Month: Ben Franklin

Our Co-op Connection Business of the Month for December is Ben Franklin! Did you know that Co-op member-owners get 10% off their purchases at Ben Franklin when they shop on Saturdays? Whether you’re looking for gifts, stocking stuffers, or doing some holiday crafting, be sure to check them out!

It’s tough to imagine Middlebury’s Main Street without this throwback five-and-dime store. They offer a great selection of crafting supplies including colorful yarns, thread, fabrics, art supplies, scrapbooking materials, and more.


They also have a large toy department and lots of great gift items – including many locally made products.


They offer a very affordable custom framing service and have lots of interesting posters and artwork to adorn your walls. They also have a nice selection of inexpensive kitchen and household goods, so when you’re making your way through your holiday shopping list be sure to give Ben Franklin a try! Oh, and don’t forget to show them your Co-op card!



Shop Small This Saturday!

You might be familiar with Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but nestled between these two frenzied shopping days, on Saturday, November 26th, is Small Business Saturday! This is a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all that they do for their communities. When you choose to shop at local, independent, family-owned stores, you’re keeping your hard-earned money circulating in your own community, supporting local families and local jobs. These shops are the backbone of our community and help keep our local economy vibrant & strong, so be sure to visit them this Saturday for your holiday shopping needs! Many will be offering special holiday sales as an added incentive to shop local on Saturday! Thanks to the fine folks at Cabot, we’ll be giving away free reusable shopping bags on Small Business Saturday, while supplies last!


Need another incentive to shop small on Saturday? Co-op member-owners get special deals & discounts at 20 participating local businesses around town through the Co-op Connection! Looking for locally made, eco-friendly toys? Check out Maple Landmark! Do you have ornaments, jewelry, photo frames, or home decor on your list? Danforth Pewter has a beautiful selection! Maybe you’re looking for a ceramic tea set or packaged loose-leaf teas for the tea lover on your list? Look no further than Stone Leaf Teahouse! Is there a writer or artist in the family? Main Street Stationery has beautiful leather-bound journals and sketch pads! Does someone on your list need shoes, socks, or new winter duds? Check out Green Mountain Shoe & Apparel! Wild Mountain Thyme also offers a beautiful selection of apparel and accessories! And if it’s stocking stuffers you’re looking for, you won’t want to miss Middlebury Sweets! They have over 1,000 different confections including handmade chocolates, bulk candy, jelly beans, taffy, and so much more! This just barely scratches the surface of the many great gifts to be found at these 20 local businesses, so if you’d like to view the full list of participating businesses and see what deals they offer to Co-op Members, check out the Co-op Connection Brochure. 

Beyond the Co-op Connection businesses, our community is lucky to have a wide array of local, independently-owned bookstores, galleries, gift shops, chocolatiers, spas, boutiques, and eateries from which to buy a gift or gift card. When you’re scanning that holiday gift list – think local and think small!





Fresh Pumpkin Pie

The Thanksgiving spread doesn’t quite feel complete without a pumpkin pie! This recipe calls for fresh pumpkin puree, which is easy and economical to make at home using fresh, local pie pumpkins. Simply quarter the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds & stringy pulp, roast cut-side-down in a 400-degree oven for about 40 minutes, then puree the roasted pumpkin. Any puree that you don’t use in your pie will freeze beautifully for another pumpkin dish.

We also love this recipe because it allows you to use local maple syrup in place of much of the sugar in traditional pumpkin pie recipes, and uses fresh local cream in lieu of canned evaporated milk products.   If Thanksgiving is all about celebrating the local harvest, this pie fits the bill!

Spotlight on Lake Champlain Chocolates

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight this week on a local favorite – Lake Champlain Chocolates! All of their mouth-watering chocolates are 20% off for member-owners this week, so it’s a great time to stock up on stocking stuffers. Read on to learn more about this local confectionery that has called Vermont home since 1983:


According to the folks at Lake Champlain Chocolates, Vermont is more than an address; it’s home. It’s where they live, who they are, and how they choose to do business.  And from the first truffle in 1983 to the present day, Vermont has inspired the folks at Lake Champlain Chocolates to take a craftsman’s approach to chocolate: creativity, patience, and mastery.

What began as a truffle-making venture has now grown to include a long list of tasty treats from fudge to sea salted caramels and beyond. And with each new product, their original commitment to excellence has remained the same. They have remained true to their mission of seeking out the best and freshest ingredients from local farmers and producers and they’ve been doing it that way long before it was cool.  Call it Vermont instinct, but even back in ’83, it just made sense that using local honey, maple syrup, and fresh cream in their Chocolates of Vermont would result in superior flavor. Those same instincts also guided the decision to never add preservatives, extenders, or additives to any of their chocolates.

Lampman Family

Fair Trade:

Beyond labeling individual products as “fair trade” — an ongoing process in itself — the entire company is now certified Fair for Life.  Fair for Life is a rigorous third-party certification for social accountability and fair trade. Above and beyond fair trade certification, it looks at a company’s practices as a whole, including the ingredients used in its products. LCC undergoes regular audits to ensure every step of its supply chain is socially legit. Not just the cocoa, but every link they have as a business, including their own employees’ working conditions here in Vermont.

Why? Because of their belief that every person in the process should be treated and compensated fairly. And that means everyone in the supply chain — from the farmers who grow and harvest the cocoa, to those who transport it, transform it into chocolate, process your order, package it, and ensure it arrives ready for you to enjoy.

This certification affirms the following:

  • A price premium is paid to the cocoa farmers and co-ops.
  • Certified products originate from fair trade producer operations.
  • LCC is engaged in long-term partnerships and socially responsible trading practices with its suppliers/purveyors.
  • LCC respects the labor rights of its own employees, providing good working conditions.
  • LCC is a good community citizen and practices environmental responsibility.

Blue Bandana Bean-To-Bar:

Blue Bandana is an award-winning line of single-origin craft chocolate bars launched in 2012 by Eric Lampman, head of R&D at Lake Champlain Chocolates and son of founder Jim Lampman. Born from a desire to go deeper into the chocolate-making process, the micro-batch chocolate bars are produced in Vermont using cocoa beans sourced directly from their origin.

With the Blue Bandana line, they’re following a “direct trade” model. As the name implies, there’s no middleman, so the supply chain is that much shorter. This allows them to build one-on-one relationships with farmers and sponsor local initiatives in the communities where the cacao is grown. There’s a direct feedback loop with growers and co-ops, and that makes a huge difference in the quality of the end product.

For LCC as a whole, fair trade still offers the best solution. Going 100% direct trade company-wide would be a real challenge, for a few reasons — sheer quantity, for starters. Bottom line, fair trade and direct trade are both valid ways to do the right thing, make sure farmers get a fair shake, and get to know your supply chain.

Eric Lampman in the Dominican Republic

Uncompromising Quality:

All of the products at Lake Champlain Chocolates are certified Kosher with zero additives or shelf extenders and the goal is to use non-GMO ingredients whenever possible. Of course, their certified organic chocolates are 100% GMO-free as guaranteed by the organic certification.


Factory Tours:

Want to see how their chocolates are made? Take a FREE Factory Tour!

Monday-Friday, 10am-2pm
Tours on the hour
Self-Guided Tours after 3pm

FREE Chocolate Tastings
Saturday & Sunday, 11am to 4pm

750 Pine Street Burlington, VT
CALL: 802-864-1807



Spotlight on Elmer Farm

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Elmer Farm this week to celebrate this 90-acre organic farm and the farmers who give life to it. Member-owners can enjoy 20% their glorious spread of organic vegetables this week. Read on to learn more about the history and heritage of this farm, which has been providing food for its community since the early 1800’s!


Driving into East Middlebury on Route 116, it’s hard to miss the beautiful patch of flowers bording the white farmouse at the entryway to Elmer Farm. What you might not see from the road are the amazing fields of vegetables that are grown on this fertile, organic soil. Elmer Farm is a conserved 90-acre farm where Spencer & Jennifer Blackwell grow 25 acres of mixed vegetables, grains, and dry beans, all of which are certified organic. Annual inspections and certification by Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) ensure that the crops are grown responsibly and safely without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.

The farm belonged to the Elmer family since the early 1800’s and has a long heritage of providing food for its community. The receding glaciers bestowed the farm with a wonderful mix of fertile soils and sandy loam, perfectly suited to growing vegetables and grains. More than 35 different vegetables are grown on the farm, plus an impressive array of flowers and culinary herbs. This inlcudes over 200 different varieties, including many heirlooms.

Spencer and Jennifer Blackwell, along with their children, Ida & Angus, and their hard-working crew of farmhands are proud to grow vegetables for their community, neighbors, and friends in Addison County. They value hard work and the agrarian quality of life. They are committed to our community through various farm-to-school efforts as well as gleaning for local food agencies. In fact, Spencer helped spearhead the Local Food Access Program at HOPE. A number of years ago, representatives from HOPE, Middlebury College, ACORN,  and the local business community, along with several local farmers, including Spencer from Elmer Farm and Will Stevens of Golden Russet Farm, got together to discuss the possibility of increasing the amount of locally grown food offered at HOPE’s food shelf. This group recognized that Addison County farmers grow vast amounts of beautiful, healthy organic fruits and vegetables, which are often unavailable or too pricey to those who need it most. They also recognized that these farms often had excess produce available that would not be destined for retail markets, which could instead be diverted to the food shelf.

Fast-forward to present day, and the idea hatched by this group has evolved into an incredibly successful program that is bringing thousands of pounds of healthy, local foods to those in our community who need it most and diverting a lot of food from the waste stream. By the end of 2015, more than 10,797 pounds of surplus produce had been donated by Elmer Farm, along with many other local farms. This requires a monumental and tireless effort on the part of the farmers and a heck of a lot of coordinating and processing effort from HOPEs Local Food Access Coordinator, Lily Bradburn.

At the Co-op, you can find Elmer Farm’s organic cabbage, red & yellow onions, butternut squash, baby bok choy, radishes, leeks, scallions, kale, chard, and their famous carrots! You can also subscribe to their CSA, where you will receive fresh vegetables, flowers and herbs each week from mid-June through the end of October for a total of 20 weeks. Also be sure to check out the recipes on their web page!


Roasted Butternut Bisque

It’s soup season and this Roasted Butternut Bisque is perfect for a chilly fall day! It’s simple to make and easy on the budget, as many of the ingredients are featured in our weekly sale this week. It also features several local ingredients that are in season this time of year. Make a double batch on your day off, pop it into the freezer, then defrost and reheat for an easy dinner on busier weeknights. Serve with a tasty loaf of local crusty bread.

Buy Your Produce on October 6th and Share the Harvest!

We’re proud to be participating in Share the Harvest, NOFA Vermont’s annual fundraiser for the Vermont Farm Share Program. Farm Share provides subsidized CSA shares for limited-income Vermont families, helping to make fresh, local food available to all.

Buy your produce on October 6, 2016 and we’ll donate 30% of proceeds from that day’s Produce Sales to this great program.

Find out more, here!



Oktoberfest Dinner

It’s a lot of fun to celebrate culinary traditions, even when they aren’t necessarily a part of one’s personal cultural heritage. They open our minds and our palates to the unique traditions and flavors of different cultures. With this in mind, we’re sharing a delicious recipe for an Oktoberfest meal! It’s the final week of our Eat Local Month celebration, so this Oktoberfest dinner features a spectacular lineup of local ingredients!  Dabbling in this German culinary tradition is also budget-friendly since many of the ingredients are featured in our weekly sale from September 29th – October 5th, so grab your stein and your lederhosen and celebrate the flavors of Oktoberfest!

Spotlight on Four Pillars Farm

We casting our Co-op Spotlight this week on Four Pillars farm of Whiting, Vermont. This beautiful organic farm provides our Co-op with an abundant array of local produce including baby spinach, baby arugula, baby kale, mesclun, Brussels sprouts, juicing greens, red & yellow onions, sweet onions, sweet peppers, daikon & watermelon radishes, butternut & spaghetti squash, and purple potatoes. Wow! And they’re all 20% off for member-owners this week! Read on to learn more about this gem nestled in the fertile valley of Addison County.


Four Pillars Farm is a certified organic vegetable farm set in the beautiful, fertile rolling hills of southern Addison county. Their mission is to provide healthy , top quality produce, to grow better not bigger, to protect and build the fertility and biological diversity on their land and build relationships with their community partners by encouraging them to come and see how their food is being grown.


Farmer-owner Peter Cousineau is committed to the use of growing practices that go beyond sustainable to regenerative. He incorporates permaculture principles into his farming methods to help recycle nutrients in the soil, promote water retention, and prevent soil degradation. He has also worked to increase beneficial insect populations on the farm and has remineralized the soil to bring back the 70+ trace minerals that most veggies are missing these days due to soil-degrading farming practices.


Another permaculture principle evident in Cousineau’s practices is the concept of people care. One example includes an annual event where he invites employees from our Co-op and other neighboring Co-ops that sell his produce to visit the farm, take a tour, and enjoy a farm-to-table meal that he prepared. This annual gathering is not only an opportunity to see the gorgeous farm where the produce is grown and learn more about what it takes to get the produce from seed to co-op shelf, but also provides an important opportunity to build relationships, mutual respect, and truly engage in a community partnership between producers and consumers.  Below are some photos from last year’s gathering.