Good Food Samaritan: Ren Weiner 

click to enlarge Ren Weiner - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Ren Weiner
Age: 30
Occupation: baker, Miss Weinerz
Town: Winooski
Most locals know Ren Weiner for her doughnuts, which she delivers each weekend to local spots such as Scout & Co. and Pingala Café & Eatery. The pillowy fried treats come stuffed with fresh berries or sour cherries, or maybe sprinkled with candied violets, crisped herbs or other forage. Weiner leavens each batch with natural yeasts, fermented slowly for two days.

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The doughnuts have a hearty following, but Weiner sees her pastry production as a way to support and subsidize her real mission — which doesn’t pay the bills. The baker spends Wednesdays prepping and packing meals at the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. In 2015, she founded FoodfightVT, a community web forum exploring local food issues. She sits on the board of Slow Food Vermont and organizes meetings and workshops examining food waste, labor, access and other concerns. In the past year, she’s held bake sales for or donated sweets to the Pride Center of Vermont, the Salvation Army, Bike Recycle Vermont and Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, among others. She regularly mentors young people — in cooking and food and agricultural issues — at local schools and colleges.

All this because Weiner sees eating as a collaboration of farmers, cooks, organizations and communities. In her mind, food is a way to fuel social, economic and agricultural change — and serving meals is a way to serve others. What could taste better than that?

Clutch summer sweet: 

Popsicles from Adam’s Berry Farm in Charlotte.

Favorite picnic spot: 

Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover.

Underappreciated community service organizations: 

The Good Food Truck and its gleaning operation; Burlington High School’s Fork in the Road food truck and Food Fighters school garden program that Sarah Heusner is working on; and the Vermont Community Garden Network.

How to eat like a pro at the farmers market: 

Get a bacon hot dog at Maple Wind Farm’s stand, wrap it in a scallion pancake from Green Mountain PotStickers, and top it off with kraut from Sobremesa, microgreens and flowers from Half Pint Farm and herbs from Digger’s Mirth. Wash it down with an Extra-Ginger shot from the Juice Bar. Then drink a Northern Bayou cocoa-nib cold brew for dessert.
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)
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