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Topics: Eric Schlosser, Bernie Sanders, Vermont Fresh Network

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Did Fast Food Nation change the way you think about burgers and fries? The book's author, activist Eric Schlosser, joins Senator Bernie Sanders in Burlington this Saturday for a "town meeting on the politics of food." The topic: "From Fast Food Nation to Sustainable Agriculture." The writer and the politician met recently during a successful effort to improve wages for exploited tomato pickers in Florida.

According to Sanders' website, the event, which begins at 10:30 a.m. in Burlington City Hall Auditorium, will be a "very interesting discussion on the future of agriculture in Vermont and the U.S."

One of its focal points will be "maintaining a sense of optimism . . . not to be overwhelmed by the problems we still face," Schlosser explains. But at the same time, "not getting complacent about support for sustainable agriculture, but pushing it to the next level." Of particular concern to Schlosser is the growing disparity between the diets of rich and poor people, as well as the plight of migrant workers.

After the talk, look for strawberry shortcake, but no Cool Whip. . .

For more on Schlosser, check out the food section in next week's edition of Seven Days.

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At the Vermont Fresh Network's first "Farmers' Dinner" of the season, Michael and Laura Kloeti of Michael's on the Hill dished up a five-course meal that included chilled ramp soup with smoked trout, a Winding Brook Farm lamb chop and merguez sausage on a bed of whipped chickpeas and kale, and a sweet 'n' sour strawberry-rhubarb Berliner. (That's the pastry that famously tripped up JFK into referring to himself as a German confection when he was trying to identify with the local citizenry.)

The series of dinners, which is open to the public and continues this Saturday at the Cliff House in Stowe, showcases some of Vermont's best chefs cooking with meat and produce from local farms, and it gives farmers a chance to meet their biggest foodie fans.

To kick off the evening, Michael Kloeti mentioned that working with farmers has always made more sense to him than buying items through distributors. "I like to run my own politics, and I don't like to be told what to do," Kloeti explained. He also appreciates the foragers who bring woodland goodies right to his door, but that doesn't prevent him from scouring for his own products on occasion. "The ramps were foraged by me, my kids and my cooks," he confided. "I won't tell you where, or else you'll go there."

Kloeti summed up the experience of partnering with local farmers and artisans thus: "It makes my heart jump." The attendees felt the same way about the meal, which garnered the chef and the farmers a big round of applause.

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