Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Did you know that you can buy a Connecticut grown turkey? Check out the Buy CT Grown guide to Connecticut turkeys. Even if you don’t eat a Connecticut grown turkey, there are lots of great suggestions for how to add some local flavor to your holiday meal. Check out the recipes for sweet corn casserole and pumpkin muffins at the bottom of the page.
The Live Local! App invites consumers to discover and experience Connecticut’s local food and agriculture. Take the pledge to spend ten percent of your food and gardening dollars on locally grown products.
With the Live Local! App you can:
- Find out the season’s top ten
- Get the lowdown on food and farm events
- Share pictures of in season goodies
- Take the 10% pledge
- Instantly log your spending
By Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH, RD
UConn Extension Educator/Food Safety
No, I was not racing to the nearest “big box” or department store on Thanksgiving night to get in line for a 29 cent towel. I was, however, enjoying my family around a table full of Connecticut grown turkey dinner food. Apples from Hindinger Farm were in my daughter’s apple pie. My turkey came from Stone Gardens in Shelton. We ate kale cole slaw, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes, all purchased from local farms or the CitySeed farmers’ market in New Haven. Unfortunately, my own garden produced only the rosemary and parsley. But, Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to celebrate a local harvest, and I did my best (we did use canned pumpkin in the pie, I must confess…).
With Christmas, New Years Day, and many parties, celebrations and gatherings filling the next month or so, I would like to invite all readers to consider supporting your local farmer or food processor as you fill out your gift lists.
If you like your gift-recipients to have some choice, a gift card is always a good choice. Many of the larger farmers’ markets offer gift cards or similar programs. Or, alternatively, many large farm stands may do the same.
Check out Connecticut meat, poultry and egg producers as well. Some producers offer a program where you purchase a regular share of product (similar to community supported fruit and vegetable farms, only you are buying a regular share of meat). This would make a wonderful gift for a loved one.
Visit some of the winter farmers markets throughout the state to find gifts such as:
Breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, scones by local bakers
Holiday wreaths, trees, arrangements
Wool for knitting
Locally crafted pottery, knits, baskets, etc.
Dog biscuits (don’t forget your best buddy!)
Find lists of 2013/14 Winter and Holiday farmers’ markets, Connecticut meat, poultry, and egg producers at the Connecticut Department of Agriculture web site, www.ct.gov/doag.
Canned goods are another non-perishable choice. With the passing of what is affectionately called, the “Pickle Bill”, farmers can now process acidified foods (pickles, relishes, salsa, etc.) along with the jams and jellies they have been able to produce in their on-farm home kitchens. You may find these items at farmstands or farmers’ markets across the state. In addition, some farms have contracted with co-packers to process their products into hot sauces, bloody mary mixes, pasta sauce, specialty jams and jellies and salsa.
Don’t forget Connecticut’s wineries either. Whether your friends prefer fruit wines made from Connecticut apples or pears or a more traditional merlot or pinot blanc, you can find it here. Go to www.ctwine.com to find a winery or favorite wine near you (or not so near, as the case may be).
If you have lots of time on your hands, and some skill as well, then buy the locally produced yarn and knit a pair of mittens. Purchase some late fall/early winter produce such as apples or pears and make applesauce or pear butter. Try your hand at pickling cauliflower. Folks always appreciate home-produced things – and you can’t get more local than that! Just be sure to follow researched recipes for pickles and such. Check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation at www.uga.edu/nchfp if you need a little help in this area.
Or, make up a gift bag—use a recyclable shopping bag–with a little of this from one farm and a little of that from another. Support your local farmer/producer. It is ever so much more satisfying than that 29 cent towel—and there are no lines to stand in!
For more information on locally produced food, contact the UConn Home and Garden Education Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-486-6271.
UConn Extension with CitySeed of New Haven and its BuyCTGrown.com project are excited to celebrate their first full year growing the ‘buy local’ movement. Since its launch in August 2013, the CT 10% Campaign’s consumer and business pledgees together have tracked over $800,000 spent on locally grown (raised and caught) products. With over 400 consumers and 100+ business partners, the movement is growing! For a list of the 10% Business Partners, visit www.buyctgrown.com/pledge-‐partners-‐0.
Taking the Pledge and buying local from farmers, nurseries, restaurants, and businesses has never been easier! In addition to the 10% dashboard displaying the Campaign’s stats, the buyCTgrown website has become an online hub of CT agricultural news, events, features and products by zip code. Now that it’s peach, pear, plum and apple season, buyCTgrown is excited to be promoting their limited edition Pick Your Own crop cards. These cards feature Sing Along Songs, fun facts, and a delicious recipe and can be retrieved from participating farms, as listed on the website.
“What better time of year to celebrate this campaign’s successes and look forward to our opportunities to grow than in August,” says Amanda Freund, UConn Extension’s Business Coordinator for the 10% Campaign. “Right now farmers markets, stands and farm to table restaurants are promoting late summer berries, sweet corn, tomatoes, cucurbits and the whole variety of tree fruits (and more)!”
Collectively, CT residents spend 2.5% of their food purchases on locally grown products. The CT 10% Campaign hopes to engage consumers and raise individual local purchases up to 10%! By taking the Pledge, participants are encouraged to spend 10% of their food and gardening dollars on locally grown.
“Our UConn community and our students feel very strongly about knowing where their food is coming from. We work with our produce vendor to be able to specify locally grown products, so we can use them in all our residential facilities and retail locations.” Dennis Pierce, Executive Director of UConn Dining Services recently shared his reasons for why UConn Dining took the 10% Pledge. “It helps the economy, puts a face on CT produce, especially when we can highlight the farmers and farms our produce is coming from and it brings community together.”
The CT 10% Campaign is funded generously by USDA, CT Department of Agriculture and private foundations.