Here at Farmers’ we spend a lot of time looking for new and interesting foods to carry. We are committed to supporting small companies who have missions similar to ours: dedication to quality ingredients, integrity in business practices, and involvement in their communities. We like to know the people who make the food we sell! To that end, our membership in the Good Food Foundation makes it easy to meet makers from all over the country.
In the past we traveled to two to three Good Food “shows” per year—trade shows where we get to sample products and talk to the passionate people who make them. Picture table after table of cheeses and salumi; honey and chocolate; hot sauce; bar mixes; preserves; snacks…you name it! We would return to Vermont a few pounds heavier, pockets stuffed with the business cards of new companies to represent in our stores.
All food shows were cancelled this year, of course. But the GFF figured out a work-around that they call “Virtual Tastings.” Every week in June and July we get boxes of samples shipped to us, each around a theme. The first, which you see in the pictures, was “New England Meat and Cheese,” featuring salumi from Charlito’s Cocina and Brooklyn Cured; smoked fish from Acme Seafood; cheese from Shelburne Farms and Firefly Farms; paté from Les Trois Petit Cochons; biscuits from Effie’s Homemade; and jams for cheese from Blake Hill.
We joined the makers and other retailers in a Zoom meeting. Each maker had five minutes to discuss their products and guide us in a tasting. Some of the products were familiar to us and some were new, but the format allowed us to sample lots of items at the same time, together and separately.
Today is the second Virtual Tasting: #StayHomeWithChocolate! Five different chocolate companies from Maine, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, and Hawaii are represented, and I will once again throw myself on the sword for the good of WFM by tasting through all of these chocolate samples. You’re welcome.
Future tastings revolve around other themes, such as Good For You Snacks; Upgrade Your Pantry; Beyond Jam; The Sweet Tooth; and Get Cozy With A Cup Of…, among others. It’s a terrific way to learn about fantastic regional foods and the people who champion them, so we have stories to tell when we introduce them to you here at home.