Eating Locally for the Holiday
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Why eat the boring old box stuffing this holiday when you can use fresh local produce for a tasty and memorable meal? As we get closer to the holidays, we’re probably all wondering what side dish to cook or how to properly cook the turkey, but have you ever considered using locally grown produce for your holiday meal? There is a wide range of benefits to using local produce.
Research shows that food produced and consumed locally can create more economic activity in one community. When compared to food produced non-locally, the income generated by local farmers is retained and also allows for an increase in employment. A recent study shows that 15.8% of the dollars spent on food is retained by farmers in the United States. Fresh fruit and vegetables, when harvest at peak season, tend to have a higher nutritional value than those of non-locally grown.
The question and concern by many consumers is generally “How can I afford to eat local?”. Most consumers make an assumption that locally grown produce at the farmers market is more expensive than vegetables found in a retail venue. A research conducted by Iowa State University shows that the difference in both farmers market and non-local supermarkets is not significantly different. The finding shows that the mean price per pound for the local farmers market was $1.25 when the mean price per pound for non-local supermarket was $1.39. It was noted that local price advantage stemmed from factors such as abundant supply, seasonality, or weather.
There is so many ways you can spice up your holiday meals. Try incorporating a vegetable that you’ve never cooked with during the holidays such as locally grown rice. During this holiday, consider glazed rainbow carrot or roasted butternut and root crops for a side dish. Both dishes are delicious and offer a medley of colors. Incorporate different leafy greens such as mustard, baby kale, radicchio, and arugula topped with fresh radish and carrots and dressed with a homemade ginger sauce for a scrumptious and healthy salad. Consider cooking a locally raised chicken, fresh trout, or lamb for the holiday instead of a turkey or ham as your main entrée. For a tasty dessert, use locally raised sweet potatoes for a velvety pie.
There are so many possibilities when you start looking at all the different produce and meats at the local farmers market. The Hickory Farmers market will be open in November on Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more questions about eating locally or where to find locally grown produce, please visit our website at Catawba.ces.ncsu.edu or call the Catawba County Cooperative Extension Center at 828-465-8240.