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Side Dishes: Leftover Food News

Published March 18, 2009 at 7:07 a.m.

For Vermont localvores who celebrate Passover, finding lamb shanks and bitter herbs is a breeze. Stocking up on unleavened bread could be trickier.

Until now. Julie Sperling and Doug Freilich of Naga Bakehouse in Middletown Springs recently invented Vermatzah, a round, handmade, wood-fired alternative to the mass-produced Manischewitz matzohs you find in the supermarket. As a bonus, each box comes with a small bag of wheat seeds so eaters can, in theory, start growing their own.

But is Vermatzah kosher? Technically, no: Sperling and Freilich haven’t gone through the multistep certification process, which involves rabbinical supervision and the payment of an annual fee. Naga’s packaging explains: “Vermatzah is eco-kosher, connecting modern ecology with ancient dietary laws and ethical standards about food production, preparation and eating.”

Boxes of the wheat-y treat are available at Naga and at a handful of area markets, but only until the end of Passover.

In a world where starvation kills approximately 30,000 people each day, not everyone would turn down Nutraloaf, a finger food composed in part of whole-wheat bread, beans, spinach and tomato paste. But the wholesome yet unappetizing concoction may no longer be served to Vermont prison inmates without a disciplinary hearing.

Last week, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that a Nutraloaf diet, sometimes given to inmates who fling feces at staffers, is effectively “a punishment” and hence subject to due process.

The decision came from a 3-2 majority.

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About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose, butcher a pig, make ramen from scratch, and cook a scallop perfectly.


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