Many people have told me over the years that we must have opened Sweet Clover Market because we love to cook. But the truth is, we opened Sweet Clover Market because we love to EAT!! And, really, we love to eat so much that we care A LOT about what it is we put in our mouths. What are the ingredients of each product? How fresh is it? Who grew it? Whose recipe is it? Where was it caught? Where was it grown? Honestly, we have a million questions and really like knowing the answers. When you are putting as much food as we are into your body, you want to make sure not only that it tastes good, but that it treats your body right, too.
Back in 2005, in Westford, VT, a family looking for organic eggs had to go all the way into Burlington to get some, or grow their own. It isn't like that anymore, thanks goodness, but back then we decided to take matters into our own hands. A few feasibility studies later, we knew we had lots of neighbors like us who were eager to find good food in our neighborhood: minimally processed, fresh, small batch food that our bodies thrived on, sold by knowledgeable and friendly staff. Don't get us wrong: we think supermarkets play an important role in the industry. But having choices and information is important, too, and we believed there weren't enough in our neck of the woods.
About the same time we started to build the idea of Sweet Clover Market, the localvore trend started to gain traction. We had our own "a-ha" moment when we realized the easiest way for Sweet Clover Market to source fresh, clean food would be from local farms and small family farms from "away" who could make sure we knew the ingredients, the processing method, the source; in short who could tell us their STORY and have a RELATIONSHIP with us beyond the invoice. We couldn't rely solely on labels: we needed to be able to call and get answers to all of our questions. We were very fortunate to build Sweet Clover Market "from scratch" on the Buy Local ethos, instead of retrofitting our operation to accomodate the unique methods of sourcing, purchasing, displaying and selling local foods. We simply don't know any other way!
At Sweet Clover Market you will find the following kinds of foods:
PRODUCE Our produce department is dedicated to selling foods grown as close to home as possible as long as it is a price we believe our customers will pay and as long as it is a product we believe we can successfully sell. Vermont grown black walnuts are super cool, but we learned the hard way that our customers aren't buying them. Local celery for $7 per head doesn't really sell well, either, it turns out. So, we talk to local farms first, and buy from them. Then we choose products made in New England, then the east coast, then the continental US and finally from abroad (darn that sneaky Southern Hemisphere and their alternate seasons!). We choose produce that is grown organically first but might choose conventional if pricing or availability is a concern. Garlic from Argentina in April is a possibility but if we can find it from California or Vermont you can rest assured we will scoop it up and bring it to you ASAP! And all of our signage gives as much info as we know about where it came from so you can shop with confidence.
DELI Our deli department has cold cuts from Applegate as well as a few made by us including Roast Beef and Pastrami made in house with local beef (YUM)!! As it turns out, these cold cuts also make some fine SANDWICHES which are all made to order from our terrific menu! We also have chefs on staff who prepare cold salads and ready to heat-n-eat dishes for you to take home and dine. The only preservatives you'll find here are salt, vinegar and fat. We also have a hot soup station with four soups everyday. Gluten free options abound!
MEAT Our meat department is a Buy Local powerhouse! We only buy beef, pork and lamb from Vermont farms such as Boyden Farm in Cambridge and Vermont Family Farms in Enosburg. We have old fashioned butchers on staff: we break down all meats from whole carcass right here in our kitchen every week to ensure the ultimate in fresh, high quality, custom cuts for you and your guests. If you like cooking Tip To Tail we can give you any piece and part you might need (well the ones the inspectors let us have, anyway). We make our own sausage, and have gourmet burgers and kabobs ready to grill in the summer as well as stuffed breasts and roulades ready for oven in the winter. Finally, we sell only SUSTAINABLE seafood as identified by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guides as safe and sustainable.
DAIRY Vermont really shines in this department. Milk and cream from Strafford Farm and Monument Farms are daily staples but don't miss the yogurt, kefir and buttermilk from Butterworks Farm, the Ricotta from Maplebrook Farms and more! Eggs are available not only from larger egg operations (Organic from Pete & Gerry's in New Hampshire and cage free from Maple Meadow Farm in Vermont) but we buy from backyard operations as well...mostly our neighbors who like to share. Don't miss eggs from Sandy Snyder and her lovely handwritten note in each dozen. Our ARTISAN CHEESE selection is also fabulous and mostly pretty special because we wrap lots of it in fancy cheese paper that let's it breathe the way it needs to while it waits to find a home in your kitchen (or tummy, really).
SUPPLEMENTS Since we like to eat so much, we don't have a very large supplement section. We figure lots of those vitamins are readily available in the produce section and we would love to help you eat more of those. However, we try to carry high quality vitamins, homeopathic and herbal remedies that most like minded folk seem to be seeking. We are not very good at selling the latest trendy supplement you might have heard about on Dr. Oz. But we are able to special order items in this department one bottle at a time so if you don't see what you like, please let us know so we can try to get it for you if getting it at our store makes your life easier.
PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS In addition to some really nice locally produced lotions and soaps, we carry personal care products that are not only natural but also REALLY low in hazerdous chemicals, as rated on the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) website called Skin Deep. Unfortunately, this part of the industry is not as well regulated as many of us are led to believe. Thankfully, the folks at EWG have taken the time to rate each product available on both the conventional and natural personal care market to let you know which ones are using ingredients found to be more toxic than others when applied to the body. Just type in the name of your favorite shampoo, lotion, shaving cream, etc. to see its rating then use the list to find ones that are less toxic if you choose.
BEER and WINE We sell wines in the $15 and less range intended to drink with dinner since that's what most of our customers are doing anyway! We have organic, vegan, local and conventional wines and meads. The local wines have their own dedicated shelf for your easy shopping. The wines are separated by varietal to try to make it easy for you, too. We also have a really fun selection of microbrewed beers including brews from the Alchemist, Rock Art, Stone, Ommegang, Founders, Dogfish, Northshire and many many more! We try to keep the selection constantly rotating and are lucky enough to often score limited edition ales. Taste some at our beer and wine tastings we hold a few times a month on Fridays.
Other departments include GROCERY (including a great GLUTEN FREE section), HOUSEHOLD CLEANING, FROZEN, BULK and GIFTS. Hopefully by now you have read enough to convince you that Sweet Clover Market is worth a visit!
Today, Heather Belcher is the managing owner of Sweet Clover Market. Her partner Shane Desautels is also an owner and, even though he still has his day job, he can often be found working in the store as well. Since we opened in November 2006 it has been one wild and incredible ride with lots of love from our customers. But everyday has been filled with good food, and we are eternally grateful to all of our customers for the opportunity to share it with you. THANK YOU! I hope to see you in the aisles soon.
To reach Heather please visit our page with all of our contact information.
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CONTACT US: heather at sweetclovermarket dot com | (802) 872-8288 | © 2016 Sweet Clover Market and licensors. All rights reserved.