So How’d We Do? Ingredients Edition

What sets a VT Dinner apart? Well, we like to think they’re a whole lot tastier than other frozen meals. They’re also made from real food… local food. Helping more people enjoy the amazing bounty of our local farms year-round is at the heart of out mission. As we start tinkering with new menu ideas (Suggestions? Let us know!) and thinking about our next production run, we wanted to take a closer look at just how we did last time in sourcing locally. For the purposes of this analysis, we used the conservative “Vermont + 30” definition of local.

% Ingredient Spending to Local Sources

This type of a deep dive yielded a few interesting insights. The percentage spent on local ingredients for the vegetable curry, which used large amounts of local cabbage, carrots, kale, onions, and tomatoes (easily the largest amount of local veggies by weight) is actually the lowest of any of the meals. The chickpeas, coconut milk and spices are expensive relative to produce. If anyone has a local source for those, let us know! The dishes where we did the best? Those involving animal protein, all of which we sourced either within Vermont or just across the border in New Hampshire (the Applewood bacon in the spaghetti squash dish).

In the course of going through each recipe we identified a few missed opportunities: we know there are local farmers growing cauliflower, celery, garlic and sweet potatoes. Going forward we’ll need to better coordinate production with the availability of these crops and develop direct purchasing agreements if farmers aren’t wholesaling through Windham Farm and Food.

On the whole, however, this detailed look left us feeling pretty good. Local ingredient spend was better than 80% for half of our initial menu. There’s certainly room for improvement, but we’re off to a good start.

In re-launching this blog we promised transparency and a deeper look at the story behind our meals. Consider this a first installment. Tune in next week for the thorny question of ingredient and labor costs.

Nathaniel

VT Dinners Founder

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