In last week's column, Seven Days reported on a controversy that erupted at Burlington's Farmers' Market over whether cheeses can and should be sold "by the piece" rather than "by weight." One quote in the "Fromage Rage" write-up came from UVM Nutrition and Food Sciences Professor Cathy Donnelly, who suggested that forcing cheesemakers to price their product by the pound sets "a dangerous precedent." Noting that loaves of bread and bunches of basil are sold "by the piece," she mused: "Does the woman who makes the beautiful nut butters have to start weighing them?"
Turns out she already does. The woman in question is Kelly Davin, owner of The Nutty Vermonter, who makes nut butters from almonds, cashews and pecans in flavors such as "maple & ginger" and "maple & chipotle." She sells them in individually weighed 8-ounce jars.
"I've weighed every single solitary jar since day one," Davin relates. When customers began coming up and asking her if her jars really contained exactly 8 ounces of butter, Davin was taken aback: "It was just confusing and a little weird," she explains. "I bend over backwards to comply with the laws and rules and regulations."
Although Davin's products are now distributed through Freedom Foods, and she guesses her accounts may number "almost in the hundreds," The Nutty Vermonter is still a one-woman show. She packs every jar by hand and adds or subtracts till she achieves the perfect weight. Weighing in on the controversy, Davin says, "As a vendor, I feel that . . . you need to comply with the rules of the ag department." Although she admits that "A lot of us flounder trying to figure out what the regulations are."