By Samantha Cave, NH Food Alliance
Shift Your Shopping began officially on November 1st and will last until December 31st, giving you a full two months to think about buying locally for the holidays! To match your commitment to the local economy and community values, the NH Food Alliance is spreading holiday cheer by highlighting ways you can show love to local food businesses and farmers during the fall and winter months. As an official partner to Shift Your Shopping, the Food Alliance hopes to encourage you to give back to the families that feed you and to the food system in general.
Stores, Markets, and Co-ops
You might think that after summer ended, farmer’s markets go into hibernation during the colder months. Luckily, many markets in New Hampshire have an entirely separate winter season offering many of the same products that you love at other times of the year, with some seasonal favorites as well like baked goods, maple syrup, and handmade crafts. The NH Department of Agriculture has a list of markets throughout the state. Many markets use Granite State Market Match during the winter, and stores continue their Double Up Food Bucks programs through December.
Don’t forget about the many local food and drink products at co-ops and farmstands, too. Try a new seasonal wine or beer you’ve never had before, or get a locally-made ready-to-eat pie if you want one less thing to worry about for Thanksgiving! It can also be helpful to think creatively – what is something new that your family might love, and could become a new tradition (for example, joining the Cider Monday festivities!)
Homemade Holiday Favorites
While creating delicious foods with local ingredients from scratch is not something everybody has time for, it can certainly be rewarding (and impressive) to make a few dishes for your relatives and friends! Dig out Grandma’s recipe cards and swap out some ingredients for things you can find locally – how about using farm-fresh eggs in your eggnog this year? Try those sweet potatoes that you bought at the farm just down the street for fresh candied yams? Use the kitchen as a learning opportunity too, to show the kids where their food comes from and the value in making things yourself.
If you don’t have time, that’s okay too. Try to find some prepared foods using local ingredients, like dinner rolls, or swap out a few sauces and condiments for ones made in NH. You can also save yourself a lot of effort and stress by encouraging family members to bring dishes they’ve made to the holiday table.
The Main Attraction: Turkey
Turkey is by far the most popular holiday food, and every family seems to have their own secrets for preparing the best and juiciest turkey. Instead of picking up a less-flavorful bird from the supermarket this year, think about ordering a farm-fresh heritage or pasture raised turkey from your neighborhood farmer, instead. New Hampshire is full of family-owned small farms that raise turkeys – just check out these lists by The Heart of New England or New England Today (note that these are by no means comprehensive). You can also do a quick search for “turkey” on Local Harvest. Our best tip is to order soon, because farm-fresh turkeys are limited and often sell out very quickly!
If you have the means, give back to your community members by donating food items, money, and time to local food pantries and the NH Food Bank, many of which run special holiday basket programs during the winter. Make sure to call first or look online to see which items each place needs the most.
You can also consider hosting your own holiday food drive, or encouraging your child’s school to. The NH Food Bank also has a new license plate decal you can purchase as a charitable contribution while also showing your support! Don’t forget about other organizations that support local food and farming such as conservation trusts, homeless shelters, charitable foundations, schools, and farmer’s unions!