Editor’s note: The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension provides weekly gardening columns in which Jeremy DeLisle answers questions from local gardeners.
Local foods are quickly becoming more of the rule rather than the exception. People are understanding what it means to “vote with your food dollars.” They have seen that making a conscious decision to seek out and support local farms greatly helps to ensure the long-term viability of our agricultural communities.
Buying local foods can seem easier in the warmer months, but there are plenty of ways to continue purchasing from local farms right through the winter. Winter farmers markets and CSA
(community supported agriculture) programs can provide fresh produce throughout winter. Meat producers are an especially good option for continuing to source locally, as their products are easily frozen and utilized throughout the winter. Remember to keep our New Hampshire fisherman in mind when planning those holiday menus. Visit nhseafood.com to learn more.
Consumer demand is the real driving force that will continue to move this trend of local foods forward into new and exciting territories. So where can you get started with finding a location near you to buy great fresh food for the holidays?
One great place to start is the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture website. From their homepage (agriculture.nh.gov), click on the “Publications and Forms” tab. Here you will find listings of farmers markets (both summer and winter), as well as farm stands, markets by region, farms by commodity, restaurants featuring local products, and much more. The N.H. Farmers Market Association is another great resource for the latest market information, news, and events. Have a look at nhfma.net.
Regional initiatives such as Seacoast Eat Local and Local Foods Plymouth make it possible to easily access local foods year-round, while guides such as the Lake Region Local Food Guide help locate farms near you.
Keep in mind that many specialty markets and large grocery-store chains feature local foods as well. Good product labeling on the store shelves can help consumers easily identify local products. Remember, if you are in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask the manager of each department what they have available from local farms. Chances are you will be surprised at their willingness to talk about the wonderful products they are able to source locally.
Jeremy DeLisle is the program coordinator for the UNH Cooperative Extension Education Center. The center answers questions about gardening and more at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 877-398-4769, Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.