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Karush: Fast Food Confession

The other day my son and I went to Walker Farm in Dummerston, where visitors swarm the grounds, in ecstasies over the rare annuals, robust perennials, glossy green vegetable starts, and elegant flowering trees.

The farmers here also grow their own organic vegetables and fruits. And when bins of pert arugula, bunches of dusky purple beets and boxes of jubilant strawberries fill the farmstand, it’s easy to feel blessed.

While I personally love this particular farm, the truth is that our region is abundant with farms, and farmers, and farmers markets, and all manner of people and programs working to make delicious, locally produced food widely available.

And whether we choose to eat local foods because we like the taste, or we want to feed our kids healthy meals, or we want to support a regional economy, or we’re worried about pesticides, or whatever, one great privilege of living here is the amount of wholesome food, locally grown with skill and love.

So this makes what I have to say next embarrassing – maybe even downright immoral - but I have to admit that I eat fast food.

I know better. And yet, all too often, I drive up to that sliding glass window for a meal that’s quick and easy – never mind the nutrition.

I always end up at the drive-through when I’m overwhelmed by juggling my work with raising my son. It’s always when I’ve forgotten to pack snacks and we’re in the car late in the day, and I’m so hungry that only way I’ll be able to cook a good dinner when we get home is if I eat something, anything, right now. It’s also hard to resist if I’m lonely.

I’d like to be a person who always remembers healthy snacks. I want to organize my days so I drive less. I want to build a supportive community to help me get through hard, overstressed moments so I make better food choices. I’m working on it, but until I get there, what I really, really want is a fast food joint that will serve up a burger with Vermont-grown beef, tomatoes and cheese, or a coleslaw wrap with New Hampshire-grown cabbage and carrots. And it would be heaven if I didn’t have to haul my son out of his car seat to buy it.

I think our corner of New England is ready for a local food drive-through restaurant chain. We’re a region of creative people who have to be clever and innovative to survive our winters and thrive in a rural economy. We care about food. We certainly have a market of hungry people whose daily mealtime decisions often fall short of the healthy ideal.

Having locally produced, healthy fast food might not be as great a blessing as having access to a successful family farm. But for weary working parents all over Vermont and beyond, I know it would be a gift.

Becky Karush is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in biography and rural New England history.
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