Last week, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deputy commissioner Michael Taylor visited Vermont on a multi-state tour to see agricultural practices first hand and discuss the new standards and controls being imposed as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA).

In Vermont, "innovation was the theme of the day," Taylor wrote on his blog, and his tour included trips to two innovative Valley businesses: the Mad River Food Hub and Green Mountain Harvest's hydroponic greenhouse.

The Mad River Food Hub, which distributes locally grown foods and provides industrial space for rent to small food businesses, is "an enterprising way to provide a critical service," Taylor wrote. Owner Robin Morris "is doing this as a business but also as a way to give back to the local food system, whose broad, community-oriented values he strongly embraces."

At his next stop, Taylor noted the "amazing efficiency" of Green Mountain Harvest's hydroponic greenhouse. "He estimates that he could grow as much lettuce in one-quarter of a hydroponic acre as he could grow in 10 acres of field," Taylor said of owner David Hartshorn.

Instead of the FDA explaining their new regulations to Vermonters, as it had happened so far in other states, Taylor's time in the Green Mountain State "was more about showing the FDA how Vermont was using smart and creative tools to make local growers and food producers more successful," Morris wrote. "What they are doing here is truly impressive."