Kombucha is another story.
Maple and I have had a long standing love affair. Years before I moved to New England, I couldnt get enough of it. Syrup, candy, cookies...I even got my hands on maple cotton candy a time or two, But I am not unique. Real maple syrup (not the maple-flavored corn syrup kind) is great. Its sweet and rich, with a complex flavor profile that even kids like right away.
Kombucha is another story.
I love farmers markets and I am on "food stamps.”
In fact, I love spending my SNAP dollars (food stamps) at the farmers market. Farmers markets are great places to get food that hasn’t traveled far, is fresh and nutritionally dense, and supports the local economy. There are a ton of great reasons to shop at farmers markets, but for many low income folks, it can feel hard to participate in this part of the economy.
In the last few years, more and more farmers markets have started accepting SNAP dollars, which are loaded onto EBT cards, formerly called the food stamp program. And while this is crucial in the role of creating more access to high quality food, not many people on SNAP are utilizing this.
I get it.
The summer after my freshman year of college, I found myself at home living with my parents. I had spent a year falling in love with Olympia, Washington and was quite discontent to be back in central California. My year as an out of state student had wiped my savings out, so I applied to jobs all over my small hometown because I needed something that would at least pay me minimum wage.
Denny’s was the first place that hired me.
If you’ve never been to a Denny’s, you are probably not from America, or you currently reside under a rock. This chain restaurant exists in all 50 states and is known for their 24/7 breakfasts. I was hired on as a hostess and as such, one of my duties was to greet people at the door with a friendly “Good morning! Welcome to Denny’s!” no matter what time of the day it was.
I spent several months at Denny’s. My daily tasks included greeting people, giving AARP discounts, pretending I wasn’t skeezed out by the regulars who were just a little too friendly, and cleaning fake maple syrup off menus. In that time period, I got really good at eating as cheaply as possible, even beyond my staff discount. And besides ordering out of the kids section, what’s the cheapest thing on the menu? You guessed it. Pancakes.
When I was in Mrs. Pond’s first grade class, I read a picture book about different cities around the world. It had places from here and there, but specifically, I remember sitting at my desk and flipping through pages and landing on the picture of Montreal. There was a picture of a horse pulling a carriage through cobblestone streets. There was a certain magic to it.
I don’t know if it was the horse drawn carriage that got me, or the idea that Montrealers spoke French but didn’t live in France, but I have longed to go to Montreal since I was 7 years old.
This weekend I got to live out nearly the last two decades of anticipation.
I convinced my college friend Ali to join me and she invited Nadia, her friend from middle school. I drove up from Vermont Friday evening, data turned off the GPS, and paper map in hand. I only got lost four times before I met the other two at our Airbnb. We collected ourselves and then hit the town.
I have only have 4 months left of my AmeriCorps VISTA position at Vermont Foodbank. The last 8 months have been some of the most challenging, growing, and rewarding experience both professionally and personally.
The AmeriCorps program is a federally funded national service program, the domestic counterpart to the Peace Corps. For a while Id always dreamed of joining the Peace Corps and living overseas, but there is a lot of critical work to do stateside. Both my AmeriCorps years (completed with a yearlong gap when I went back to school) have given me the opportunity to support community organizations and their capacity to create lasting change at the local level. I’ve worked for two very different food banks where I’ve been able to have a much larger impact on hunger than I would have had I just kept volunteering for food drives.
I'm Rachel, a west coast native trying to blend in as a Vermonter. I am committed to working toward a more equitable food system and enjoying the pleasures of eating in the meantime.