One of the most exciting things about being in Vermont is the wide availability of local foods. Whether it’s maple syrup, artisan cheese, smoked meats, honey, bread, or beer, one of the best places to find these products is at the many markets that can be found along the state’s winding, wooded roads. It’s rural life’s answer to the convenience store. But they are so much better than any chain.
At the roadside market, you can buy gas, hot coffee, beer, and wine (including the best local craft IPAs in the country), freshly-made sandwiches and to-go food, gifts made by local artisans, and groceries.
Many of these stores are as well-stocked as any supermarket, with delis and butchers and diverse produce sections. Some even have decent organic and natural food selections, and all feature many kinds of locally-produced specialties like farm fresh eggs.
You can get other incidentals and essentials, too, like bundles of wood for your fireplace or stove and the special plastic bags for bringing garbage to the transfer station, for those without waste collection service. One market down the road has a big game weigh station for hunters, and a wall of trophy photos inside by the woodstove. Another has a barrel of gourmet olive oil you can buy in bulk. You never know what you’ll encounter, and it’s always a treat to discover a new treasure in a market you’re visiting for the first time.
Each market has its own spirit and its own personality – think quaint, rustic general store with many purposes. They are exactly what the area needs to make day-to-day life run smoothly. They’re perfect when you’re on the road and need fuel and a quick bite. On the way home from work you can grab a nice bottle of wine and loaf of bread baked in the next town over. It’s always nice to converse with the staff, too, as you become a regular.
I am deeply grateful for the existence of Vermont’s roadside markets, as they helped make the transition from urban to country life very fun and pleasant. I love these markets and I would much rather have them around than the endless, dispiriting sprawl of gas stations, crowded supermarkets, and strip malls amongst which I grew up. When you’re visiting the state, consider the roadside market a perfect cross-section of the local community: a great way to get to know the people, the products, and the personality of the area.