Our hometown is Bristol, Vermont, nestled in the Green Mountains. Our downtown has one stoplight and about a block of storefronts. Small town life is, by definition, small — but it can also be vibrant and surprising, just as full of unfamiliar flavors as it is familiar faces. And one of our favorite places in downtown Bristol to experience that kind of vibrancy is Tandem, the downtown storefront that Jess Messer and Lauren Gammon transformed into a pop-up events venue and commercial kitchen in 2015.
In the three years since its opening, Tandem has become a gathering space in our little town, a place for cozy brunches and inventive dinners, a home for a summertime night markets and holiday pop-ups. It's where Jess and Lauren foster their own businesses, and help support those of other chefs and makers.
Perhaps most of all, it’s a place that celebrates food — the farmers that grow it, the hands that prepare it, the eaters who consume it. This love of good food is what connects Lauren and Jess, the thread that runs through their friendship of nearly 20 years. “We joke that yuzu cemented our friendship,” says Jess.
Jess started her business — Savouré — in Montreal after her family moved to Canada in 2010; a former human rights researcher, Jess used Savouré as a way to connect with the farmers and culture of Quebec, crafting fermented veggies and pickles, jams, and handcrafted sodas. She brought the business with her when her family moved to Vermont. Her seasonal sodas are made from wild foods, herbs, and roots, or locally grown produce. She delights in putting local ingredients to use in surprising and inventive sodas, using the bounty from Vermont's farms, fields, and forests in sophisticated flavor combinations. When a hiker stumbled across wild plums on nearby Snake Mountain, the hiker brought a bushel to Jess at Tandem and asked, “Do you want to do something with them?” She did, of course.
When we tagged along for a morning of food prep at Tandem, Jess was concocting a brew of pink peppercorn and fresh rhubarb. Her sodas taste of the seasons in which they’re made — and this soda was the embodiment of spring.
Meanwhile, Lauren was busy prepping for an upcoming dinner, shaving spring asparagus and zucchini for one of her courses (read on for the recipe, below!).
For Lauren, food is a means of exploration. She caught the travel bug young, and after attending college in Vermont, spent years hoofing her way around the globe — seeking out street vendors and local food everywhere she visited. Today her catering business, Nomadic Chef Catering, focuses on farm-to-table cuisine that celebrates Vermont food, but pairs those roots with international or unexpected twists.
Tandem defies easy explanation. There aren’t any regularly posted hours, and the space doesn’t have a website. Jess and Lauren like it that way; they don’t want to be railroaded into one vision for the space, preferring flexibility and some spontaneity. Our Bee's Wrap team has dined here for our holiday dinners, shopped here during night markets that are part farmers' market, part street fair, and cozied up with a cup of coffee during mud season brunch pop-ups.
As we travel Bristol's Main Street every day, we're grateful for Jess and Lauren's creativity, their love of food, and their vision for what a community gathering space can be. It's part of what gives our small town such a big heart.
Shaved Asparagus with Smoked Trout
Recipe courtesy Lauren Gammon
Boil down two peeled potatoes, small onion, and two cloves of garlic in four cups of salted water.
In a high speed blend, combine cooked potato, onion, garlic, and broth with one fillet of smoked trout and ½ c. half and half; blend into a thick cream. Season with white pepper.
Meanwhile, shave asparagus and zucchini with a hand-held peeler for a ribbon-like effect. Toss vegetables with lemon juice, minced preserved lemon, garlic to taste, and EVOO. Salt to taste. Gently heat egg yolk over double boiler, making sure not to cook.
Serve fresh marinated asparagus and zucchini ribbons with 1/2 cup of trout cream on the side. Use the yolk to drizzle a zig-zag in the cream. Enjoy!
Plastic pollution is among the most dire environmental challenges of our time: It threatens to choke our oceans and contaminate our food and water. The facts and figures are sobering — and almost incomprehensible in scale.
A staggering 91 percent of plastic is never recycled, according to a report from National Geographic; half of all plastic produced becomes trash in less than a year. If present trends continue, Nat Geo reports, we'll see 12 billion metric tons of plastics in landfills by 2050 — an amount that's 35,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building. Already, there is more microplastic in our oceans than there are stars in the Milky Way.
The first global survey of mass-produced plastics found that plastic pollution threatens a "near permanent contamination of the natural environment," and identifies packaging and the rise of single-use containers, wrapping, and bottles as responsible for driving the phenomenal growth in plastic production.
The effects are cropping up in our food, soil and water, and in remote corners of the world (like polluted Arctic beaches). Scientists estimate that we could have more plastic than fish, by weight, in the oceans by 2050 unless we radically rethink our relationship to this material.
Even amid dire news of plastic pollution, we're starting to see signs for hope. We're inspired by zero-waste activists championing new habits, and by cities and countries considering policies to stem the plastic tide. British scientists have noticed a decline in the number of plastic bags on the ocean floor that is correlated with fees for plastic bags at grocery stores. We have the power to change our relationship to this pervasive material. While plastics feel inescapable in our day-to-day lives, the truth is that this material is incredibly new to our planet. We can and should live differently.
Earth Day this year has taken a theme near and dear to our hearts: End Plastic Pollution. This motivates us in our work every day, and in our day-to-day lives as we try to cut out disposable, single-use plastics wherever we can. We hope that Bee's Wrap can help you make that shift, too, replacing plastic wrap and sandwich baggies with a natural alternative that's reusable and fully biodegradable.
We can't overstate the importance of pollinators for our ecosystem and our food chain. Our way of life, our agriculture, and our planet's health depend on pollinators — and increasingly, pollinators depend on us to protect them in the face of mounting environmental challenges.
Pollinators like bees, bats, butterflies, and other small mammals are the matchmakers for flowering plants, carrying pollen between plants. The results of their labors are countless fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils, fibers, and raw materials. About one in every three bites of food we eat is brought to us by pollinators, and scientists estimate that anywhere between 75 and 95 percent of all flowering plants on earth need some help with pollination.
Without these helpers, our ecosystem as we know it would cease to exist. And sadly, we know that pollinators are in trouble. These vital populations are endangered by declining feeding and nesting habitats, changing climates, and pressures from pollution, chemicals and pesticides, and disease.
At Bee's Wrap, we work hard to protect our pollinators in a few ways. First, we source our beeswax from responsible beekeepers tending healthy hives. We carefully evaluate beekeeping operations for environmental impact, a healthy bee environment, and a quality end product. The evaluation considers forage quality, use of pesticides and medications, and feeding and harvesting practices. We also evaluate hive construction, human intervention of natural bee cycles, and filtering processes.
Our beeswax is never chemically altered or bleached, and is tested by the USDA for 200 pesticides and herbicides, ensuring the use of the cleanest possible wax. The beekeepers with whom we work are on the front lines of supporting a healthy, vibrant pollinator population, and we're proud to use this incredible ingredient in our wraps.
We're also proud supporters of The Bee Cause, a nonprofit that supports honeybees by placing observation hives in schools around the country. The Bee Cause empowers kids and teachers to understand and learn from honey bees and their natural environment. We sponsored our first hive for the North Branch School in Ripton, Vt., last year, and have another hive going into a local elementary school later this spring.
And finally, we love helping our customers help the bees, too. That's why we're tucking a free packet of "bee feed" — a mix of wildflower seeds — into every order this month. Bee feed includes a blend of annual and perennial flours that bees love, providing nectar and pollen for wild bees, honeybees, and other pollinators. We hope that your gardens and lawns will soon be home to the happy buzz of bees doing the work of pollination.
In other parts of the country, spring is on the way: Trees are budding, crocuses nudge up through the earth, and people are shedding winter layers for lighter coats.
In Vermont, it's snowing.
Our winters here are long. They come on early and stretch into April. But we have a saying that we share with other northern dwellers: There's no bad weather, only bad clothing. So we bundle up, stow our snacks, and head outside. Loving Vermont means loving winter.
When it snows, you'll find us at Rikert Nordic Center. This is one of the gems in our Addison County home, never more alive than on Saturday mornings when skiers of all stripes converge at the mountaintop.
Kids strap on skis for the first time at Rikert, and learn to shuffle through the snow; give them a few years, and they're sprinting on skinny skis like it's second nature. We catch up with friends as we kick skis along fresh snow. We bundle the babies into pulks, where they snooze under a thick blanket while we explore the woods.
Some days we come to get our heart rate up, hustling through a rabbit's warren of trails — up wooded slopes, down again, along a race course that has hosted the best collegiate skiers in the country. And other days, when the snow is deep and the days leisurely, we'll follow ungroomed paths to poet Robert Frost's mountain cabin, packing along snacks in Bee's Wrap for trailside fuel that keeps the cold at bay.
By mid-day, the ski center fills up again as skiers trickle back in, rosy-cheeked and ready for sustenance. There's a pot of soup in the corner, and a fire going in the wood stove — the perfect place to dry out gloves over lunch.
And once we've filled our bellies, we head back out to fill our lungs with more fresh air. When there's snow on the ground, we find we don't grumble as much about the long winters in our northern home. We'll take it as long as it lasts.
Two years ago, Demi-Brooke Kerr and her husband began daydreaming about downsizing. Together with their two small children, the Kerrs lived in a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house — one that felt empty, given how few belongings the family had collected.
They wanted something smaller. Something mobile. Something built for family adventures.
And they found it in a 32-foot, 1987-vintage Airstream, ready to hit the road in the coming months when the Kerrs set out from their home base on Long Island.
“When we were in a big house, we were all together anyway,” says Kerr. “To us, it doesn’t feel smaller in here.”
But tiny living does bring the details into focus. The already-minimalist-inclined family has pared down to the essentials. And increasingly, Kerr and her family are looking critically at every item they bring into the Airstream. That includes packaging, plastic, and other disposables destined to be trash.
“My husband and I both are very passionate about creating less waste and using less plastic,” says Kerr. “Now in the Airstream we’re even more conscious of how much waste we make, because we don’t have space for much. We have a tiny trash can under our dinette, and when that fills up, that’s all there is.”
So Kerr shops in bulk. She swapped out multiple cleaning solutions for one all-purpose, do-it-all bottle of castile soap. And she and her family are using Bee’s Wrap with gusto. They pack it along on their bi-weekly shopping trips, cover baked goods concocted in the Airstream’s tiny kitchen, and pack sandwiches and snacks for playdates conducted in fresh air. When her children — four and two — don’t finish a meal, Kerr wraps the plate in Bee’s Wrap to save for later.
“They’re indestructible,” says Kerr of Bee’s Wrap. The appeal runs beyond pure utilitarianism. “Since we live in such a tiny space, we want everything that we have to be useful, but also attractive.”
Is small living living up to the Kerrs’ daydreams? So far, yes. A few months in to the family’s new tiny living arrangements, Kerr is hard pressed to articulate any challenges. “There honestly has not been a single downside,” says Kerr. As for the kids? “They live like they’re living in a clubhouse.”
Our business is founded on the premise that little choices add up to big change. Choosing to carry your lunch in a sandwich wrap instead of a disposable sandwich baggie, or choosing to bundle a hunk of cheese in Bee's Wrap instead of cling film? That matters.
Naturally, we extend that ethos to our production: The choices we make as a company matter. This ethos is why we're committed to using recycled, plastic-free packaging. It's why we're picky about where and how we source our beeswax, working with beekeepers who meet strict sustainability standards. And it's why we use Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-certified organic cotton as the foundation for our wraps.
Approximately half of all textiles are made from cotton, yet conventionally produced cotton is considered the world's dirtiest, thirstiest crop. Cotton production uses more than 15 percent of the world's pesticides, even though it consumes less than three percent of the world's farmland. From pesticide runoff to habitat degradation, from soil depletion to water contamination, cotton threatens ecosystems worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 20,000 people die each year in developing countries as a result of the chemicals sprayed on non-organic cotton, and the EPA has labeled seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton as "possible," "likely," "probable," or "known" human carcinogens.
By contrast, organic cotton is grown without chemical fertilizers, defoliants, pesticides, or herbicides, and is always grown from untreated, non-genetically modified seed. At Bee's Wrap, we only use cotton that is GOTS-certified, which comes with additional layers of protection; GOTS-certified fabrics are made without chlorine bleaches, heavy metal dyes, and finishers that contain suspected carcinogens or toxins.
The GOTS certification also ensures that key social criteria are met — protecting workers' right to collective bargaining, ensuring safe and hygienic working conditions, prohibiting children labor, and paying living wages, among other requirements.
Fabric is the foundation of our wraps, and the fabrics we choose matter. When you hold Bee's Wrap in your hands, you're holding the culmination of many minute choices at every step of the supply chain to prioritize the health of the planet, and the health of the people who call it home.
And that, it turns out, is no small thing after all.
Your go-to kit for on-the-go eating — in our newest print, Bees + Bears, inspired by the New England ecosystem we call home.
We believe sustainable living should be beautiful and practical. That's why, from the beginning, Bee's Wrap has been both a utilitarian solution to a problem and a tactile, aesthetically pleasing addition to our homes and kitchens. Our premise: Let's reduce plastic in our lives. And let's do so in a way that's beautiful, too.
Add in the fact that we're kind of textile nerds around these parts, and can you blame us for geeking out over a new print?
We're thrilled to be unveiling our Bees + Bears print for 2018, in a vibrant cobalt blue. For inspiration, we turned to the place we call home: New England's rich ecosystem. We share this place with black bears who ramble through woods and hills, and bees who pollinate crops and wildflowers. We find sweetness in the beauty of our landscape (and in the syrup harvested from our maple trees, and the berries plucked from wild bushes).
We're launching this new print with a new addition to our line-up: the Lunch Pack, designed to make it easier to take sustainable choices with you through your day. Whether you're bound for the school cafeteria or the corporate boardroom, summiting a local peak or picnicking with the kids, our Lunch Pack provides a replacement for disposable plastics and pesky sandwich baggies.