About

Switchel is a non-alcoholic beverage dating back to Colonial times. From Wikipedia:

Switchel debatably originated in the Caribbean, but New England also holds credit as the source of switchel, and it became a popular summer drink in the American Colonies in the late 17th century. By the 19th century, it had become a traditional drink to serve to thirsty farmers at hay harvest time.

My mother made switchel for our family when I was growing up on the farm, and we drank a lot of it in the hayfield. It’s good stuff, and there is renewed interest in switchel these days. It is now being sold commercially – see this and this for example.

The essence of switchel is vinegar, sugar, ginger and water. The vinegar is usually apple cider vinegar. The sugar can be brown sugar or molasses or honey, but in my part of the world (Vermont) it is almost always maple syrup.

There is a yin and yang aspect to many things in our world as recognized in the ancient philosophy of Taoism (or Daoism). Switchel is like that – with the sweetness of maple syrup and the sourness of vinegar. Hence the switchel philosopher. Oh, and the ginger tends to settle out so you need to shake switchel before drinking it. Life is like that – sometimes you just need to shake it up a little.

My name is George Putnam. I grew up on a dairy farm in Cambridge, Vermont, graduated from college as an agricultural engineer, and after a few twists and turns ended up as a loan officer at Farm Credit, a financial institution that lends money to farmers. (Farm Credit is a nationwide system of farmers’ cooperatives – not that common in the lending world.) Farm Credit was my career for 32 years, including ten years as president and CEO of Yankee Farm Credit headquartered in Williston, Vermont. I retired at the end of 2016.

In retirement I am spending time traveling in both the physical world and the world of ideas, looking for adventures to blog about. I started this blog, The Switchel Philosopher, in February 2017 to write about adventures in the world of ideas, starting with thoughts about government and citizenship.

I am blogging about travel adventures in the physical world on George’s Other Blog. That blog has been around since 2007 (originally named George’s Home Blog) and prior to my retirement it included, among other things, a number of adventures in the world of ideas. More info about my blogging history is here.

In March 2017 I became a member of the selectboard for the Town of Cambridge. See the posts Candidate for Select Board and Select Board Member.