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Side Dishes: South Burlington’s market matters

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The folks who hawk produce at farmers markets and natural food stores may tend to be lovers rather than fighters, but that doesn’t mean the two food sources don’t compete. After all, one can buy only so many pork chops and heads of lettuce.

For the rest of the summer, Healthy Living Natural Foods market plans to bring its competition right to its doorstep. Starting this Sunday and continuing the third Sunday of every month, the locally owned store will host a South Burlington Farmers Market between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

“It was our idea,” explains co-owner and GM Eli Lesser-Goldsmith, who notes that this outdoor mart is a first for the populous Burlington suburb. “The farmers market movement is valid and wonderful … We thought, ‘What a great community-building event.’” So far, more than 30 vendors have signed up, including New Farms for New Americans, On the Rise Bakery and Jericho Settlers’ Farm.

But Lesser-Goldsmith does acknowledge that the gathering will probably affect Healthy Living’s bottom line. “We’ll be sacrificing some of our produce sales, meat sales and bread sales,” he admits, but continues, “Making farmers successful goes beyond those losses … We’re doing it to show our support and complete devotion to the local movement.” And, he hopes, folks will pop into the store to eat brunch or pick up items they couldn’t find outside.

In particular, he’s excited to point people in the direction of the meat department, where Frank Pace, formerly of Smokejacks and Shelburne Supermarket, will be butchering up a storm come Friday. “He’ll be our meat manager, managing a team of five guys,” Lesser-Goldsmith relates. “He comes to us with great experience and ideas about how to bring our meat market to the next level.”

“We’re trying to create sort of an old-fashioned type of butcher feel,” Lesser-Goldsmith explains. “Where our staff knows customers’ names, we do a lot of special orders, a lot of demos, a lot of cooking, a lot of recipes.” Although they may not be available immediately, house-made sausages and other charcuterie are sure to be on the way. “We’re already buying equipment and getting ready for all of that,” says Lesser-Goldsmith.

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