Summit Food

2009-11-09 22:58:04.000 – Mike Finnegan,  IT Observer

Sunrise this Morning

This has been a different week than most on the mountain as we are without a volunteer this week. As members of the Observatory, one can apply to be a volunteer on the summit for a week. In turn for stay on the summit, the volunteer(s) cook the crew and other guest’s dinner as well as keep the living quarters tidy. This is really a huge help, especially during Edu-Trip season when there can be nearly 20 people staying over night sometimes. We are all really appreciative and thankful for this help, especially after working 10 or 12 hours. The summit didn’t always have volunteers though, and this week it feels a bit more like the old days. Each person in the crew has taken a day or two to cook dinner for everyone else except for tonight when Brian and I teamed up to tackle pizza making. As we all enjoy to cook and there are no trips this time of year, it has been a fun change.

Tonight after dinner, we watched a documentary titled “Food, Inc.” It is a very interesting movie, explaining to the extent they are allowed to, how much of our food comes to us. In Vermont where I live, there are several farmers’ markets throughout the state. A couple years ago when I lived at home permanently (before working a week on and a week off), my roommates and I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) run by a farm a few miles from home. A family close to mine growing up owned a dairy farm (no longer in operation) and my best friend from college works on a farm in southern Vermont. For any small farm dependent upon local support there are difficulties, very often financially.

This is not so different than most non-profit organizations, such as the Observatory. Without the support of our members, we would not be able to continue our work atop Mount Washington. We are a small organization who work hard to keep our climate record as accurate and continuous as possible, and who are passionate about using our unique location to further instrument development and education. Thinking back to dinner though, I know all of the vegetables that were bought were generic ones. Many of the dry ingredients were bulk ingredients through a large distributor. In fact, I can’t think of a single ingredient besides the water which came from our well that was produced locally or maybe even in the northeast.

As has been said countless times, we eat very well here on the summit. We are more than lucky to eat so well, better than most kings have in the past. As a non-profit, we have had times of financial difficulty, but would it be possible to help a farmer (and likely a friend) in the valley, while not strapping ourselves for money? Could we eat less ourselves and buy more locally grown food from people we may actually know? For Edu-Trips, we (or I should say, the volunteers) provide incredible dinners, at least on par with ones cooked at a restaurant. I know some of the best meals I have eaten in restaurants have been ones where local meats were used or cheeses from farms throughout Vermont. The portions might be a bit smaller, but the quality of the food is noticeably better and I still feel satiated, as well as knowing I am supporting my local economy. I’m curious to hear people’s reflections on this, especially past Edu-Trippers as their quality of experience and expectations would play a major role in any change that might occur. Please let us know what you think by heading over to our forums and starting a thread there about this topic. Thanks for reading.


Mike Finnegan,  IT Observer

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