Organic Food Tour

Walking on the farm

While in Back Country Provisions getting sandwiches several days ago, my wife noticed a flyer advertising a tour by Slow Food in the Tetons of three organic farms in Teton Valley, on the other side of the pass from Wilson.  Despite my initial reservations, I agreed to go.  What I saw and learned  served to remind me of the special character of the land and the people which comprise the Teton region.

Slow Food is an organization ( dedicated to creating positive change through embracing the sustainability and quality of the local food system.  Its purpose is the antithesis of fast food.  The tour consisted of visits to three of the many organic food producers in the Teton Valley near Driggs.  We met our guide at Grand Teton Brewery just before the town of Victor and were taken by van to a mushroom farm near Driggs.  We learned the several stages of mushroom farming and the trip culminated in tasting generous helpings of sauteed mushrooms.  Next we visited a new creamery in Driggs that was working hard to develop new gelato flavors and cheeses.  Finally, we visited Snowdrift farms.  It is an organic farm run by three women.  The farm does not use any chemicals for fertilizer or pest control and supplies its own energy by using both solar panels and wind turbines (

At all three locations I learned about the process, economics and hardships of growing or creating quality organic food.  It is crucial for farms to grow in a sustainable manner by resisting the temptation to do too much too soon.  Their need for manual labor is often met by people doing “work shares”.  This is a process in which individuals work one or two days per week in return for a certain amount of food.  In the beginning, most of the farms receive much of their income from selling at farmers markets in Jackson and in Idaho, but as their contacts increase, a greater percentage of income is derived from selling to local restaurants.  In addition, the farms will sell “shares” to individuals in the area.  When a “share” is purchased the person is guaranteed some percentage of the production on a periodic basis.  As a result, the farm is able to diversify the risk of a bad crop yield and insure a steady income.

After the tour, we ate dinner under a tent in Victor, Idaho.  Our host was On The Farm ( The hot summer sun was soon replaced by a peaceful sunset and a gentle evening breeze. It was a four course meal of organic food purchased from farms within 25 miles and served under the stars with all the beer and wine we could drink.  Almost all of the participants were local residents who come from varied backgrounds.  Speaking to them was inspirational and a far cry from the denizens of a Manhattan restaurant.  Looking back as we left was a pattern of lights encompassing the tent against a dark background that encompassed the sounds of laughter and merriment.

It was not the day I first expected, but instead it was a fulfilling day I will long remember.

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