Get Out There!
As we’re finishing this issue of the magazine it’s late March here in Vermont, the heart of mud season, that time of year when the snow has melted and the dogs’ legs look like they’ve been dipped in chocolate every time they stand by the back door and beg to come in the house. I’m obsessing about how long it’s going to be until the fields sprout green, and wearing flip-flops isn’t absurd (at least from a temperature perspective, if not a fashion one). On my ideal summer day I’ll watch the sunrise over the Green Mountains from my front yard while I sip strong coffee. In the evening I’ll have a glass of wine while I cook a juicy steak on the grill. In between there will be lots of activities—boating, swimming, paddle boarding, biking, fishing, etc.—all of them outdoors.
With the stories and recipes in this issue we’re celebrating the joy of getting outside—taking more walks, picking berries (turn to page 70 for plenty of ways to use them), having a dinner around the picnic table or simply soaking up the good feelings we get from spending time al fresco. In case you need some coaxing, consider this research: a study published in January found that people who spent more time outdoors during the pandemic, as opposed to on the couch and in front of screens, had better emotional well-being. And a 2018 meta-analysis showed that having access to green space, either in a city or in more rural settings, was associated with lower rates of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
On page 79, Ivy Manning tells us about her women’s hiking group. She’s known for her contributions of over-the-top trail eats—smoked salmon-stuffed onigiri, Italian deli chopped salads and sweet potato samosas. Where have you been all my life, Ivy? I’m not a big hiker but her snacks might change my mind. On page 52, chef Scott Clark lets us tag along as he surfs, forages for seaweed, cooks oysters on the beach and on a whim buys a boat on his way down the California coast from his home base in Half Moon Bay. (Based on this story, I think he may relish his outdoor time as much as I do.)
Finally I want to make sure to draw your attention to the story on page 90 about community supported fisheries (CSFS). Writer Ben Goldfarb tells the story of how fishermen and entrepreneurs are selling seafood direct to consumers to help their bottom line, but just as importantly, to give people like you and me—even all of you in the middle of the big old US of A!—access to fresher, more delicious, sustainable seafood.
I’ve been buying seafood directly from Ethan Wood of Boston-based Wood Mountain Fish for the last year. When his business selling to restaurants was upended by the pandemic, he shifted to a sort of CSF model, offering the day’s catch directly to consumers in Vermont. I’ve had mild hake and fluke, farmed mussels and a whole striper, tons of calamari and dozens of oysters. I’ve gotten friends in on it, too, distributing packages of line-caught halibut and dayboat scallops out the back door to my neighbors. Come to think of it, forget capping off the day with steak on the grill, I’ll be sizzling up justcaught bluefish from Ethan instead.