City Market is bagging its eco-friendly philosophies, but in a good way. The co-op now uses biodegradable plastic bags that boast, "The plastic used in this bag will convert to water, carbon dioxide and biomass in the presence of soil, moisture and oxygen . . . Like a fallen leaf, it will disappear over time."
Don't worry about the bags breaking down on you, though, when you're toting your farm share or hauling your trash - it takes exposure to lots of sunlight or heat for them to degrade.
* Fresh foods abound at the South Burlington Ground Round, which has been adding Vermont products to its menu since earlier this year. Now, even the burger the joint is named after is local. The GR recently began to carry 100 percent natural, mostly grass-fed meat from Wood Creek Beef farm in Bridport. Manager Bob Scott is proud of the restaurant's new cheeseburger, which pairs the beef with Shelburne Farms cheddar on Red Hen bread. In the fall, they'll be using Shelburne Cheddar exclusively. The new burger will be featured at Ground Round's Vermont Fresh Network Farmers Dinner this Thursday. Call 862-1122 for reservations.
* Burlington's McKenzie family is an institution. But, as this week's "Hog Wild" article notes, its meat-packing business is no longer local. Here's the scoop. In 1999, the McKenzies sold their then-92-year-old company to Kayem Foods, a Massachusetts-based, family-owned sausage-slinging business. According to Greg Rouille, sales director at McKenzie's Burlington office, "We still have several local Vermonters who are all on our payroll." That number includes Bill McKenzie, who has been with the company since 1960.
But even before the business was sold, explains Rouille, almost all the meat came from out of state. One Vermont ingredient that's stood the test of time: maple syrup. Kayem still uses the Green Mountain stuff exclusively when it makes McKenzie products. It also puts the McKenzie label on 5-pound blocks of Grafton cheddar, and uses a Vermont-made spice blend in chicken sausages.
The ramifications of the sale should please at least a few folks: The old McKenzie production facility now houses, among other things, the Switchback brewery.
* For the past few months, Big Fatty, a.k.a. Clay Vagnini of Burlington's only BBQ joint, has been engaged in an online food fight in 7 Nights Guide to Restaurants and Bars. His opponents: a few opinionated aficionados of pulled pork and ribs. If you enjoy the passionate discourse about what makes good 'cue, you may want to check out Harpoon Brewery's annual competition on July 28 and 29 at their Windsor-based business. There, 40 teams - one featuring Fatty's most vocal critic, Rob Mongeon - will compete for gustatory glory in categories such as chicken wings, pork chops and sausage. General admission is $6; chowing down on the sweet 'n' spicy stuff will cost you more. The Greek Festival at Dormition of the Mother of God Church in Burlington is that same weekend, so stick around town if you prefer baklava to brisket.
* Love the NECI-run Chef's Table in Montpelier? Better get there while you still can. In November, the spot will stop operating as a restaurant and start being used for catering. This change goes hand in hand with another shift in the school's set-up. As reported in the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, all first-year students will take classes on the Montpelier campus, while second years will move to the Essex facilities.