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Travel Nationally, Eat locally

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Resolving to travel and explore new places more frequently in the upcoming year is a popular resolution.  As you might expect, I would suggest eating locally when doing so but let’s add another layer: eating the most commonly produced foods from a region.  Local is local is local, so why bother, you ask?  Simply not true.  Though local is important, regions become known for having soil and climate particularly conducive to growing, raising or harvesting particular foods.  So, don’t just eat what’s locally available, eat what’s locally cherished.

There are, of course, many more local foods than those on this list – check out your local farmers market to determine which foods are seasonally available.  But you can use this post as an informal U.S. food travel guide for speciality items – and please share any particularly delicious dishes (and where you had them) in the comment section below!

  •  Alabama – blackberries, peaches
  • Alaska – seafood (extra points and 50 gold stars to AK for fishing the greatest amount of seafood in the country yet having zero overfished species)
  • Arizona – cantaloupe, honeydew
  • Arkansas – rice, tomatoes
  • California – top cash crop (interestingly) is marijuana; for consumption: grapes (including wine and table grapes), almonds
  • Colorado – wheat, dried beans, barley, and sunflowers
  • Connecticut – apples, peaches, pears
  • Delaware – wheat, potatoes
  • Florida – citrus
  • Georgia – peaches, Vidalia onions
  • Hawaii – pineapples, macadamia nuts, coffee
  • Idaho – potatoes (you knew that), huckleberries
  • Illinois – pumpkins and oats
  • Indiana – corn (for grain), peppermint
  • Iowa – hogs/pig products
  • Kansas – beef (breed: original home in 1873 to Scotland’s Angus cattle)
  • Kentucky – soybeans, wheat, bourbon
  • Louisiana – blue crab
  • Maine – lobster, sea scallops
  • Maryland – soft shell crab
  • Massachusetts – cranberries, apples
  • Michigan – blueberries, cucumbers, dried beans
  • Minnesota – turkeys and green peas
  • Mississippi – long grain rice, catfish
  • Missouri – soybeans, wheat; home of the first self-rising flour for pancakes (by Aunt Jemima, yes THE Aunt Jemima in 1889)
  • Montana – wheat, barley, cherries
  • Nebraska – popcorn, Omaha steaks
  • Nevada – pine nuts, mustard, and grasshoppers (chocolate covered, anyone?)
  • New Hampshire – yogurt (Stonyfield Farm)
  • New Jersey – eggplant, red beets
  • New Mexico – pecans (extra points and 50 gold stars to NM for their sustainability and water conservation efforts)
  • New York – Chobani yogurt
  • North Carolina – peanuts, sweet potatoes (interestingly, neither of these are native North American plans)
  • North Dakota – wheat, sunflowers, and barley
  • Ohio – soybeans, apples, oats
  • Oklahoma – wheat, peanuts, rye
  • Oregon – hazelnuts
  • Pennsylvania – mushrooms
  • Rhode Island – snails and clams
  • South Carolina – corn, wheat and peaches
  • South Dakota – bison
  • Tennessee – ramps and prawns
  • Texas – beef (cattle breeds: Beefmaster, Santa Gertrudis, Texas Longhorn)
  • Utah – tart cherries, wheat
  • Vermont – maple syrup (maple anything, really), Ben and Jerry’s ice cream
  • Virginia – ham and peanuts
  • Washington – apples, pears, cherries, mint and hops
  • West Virginia – buckwheat, venison
  • Wisconsin – cheese, cranberries
  • Wyoming – elk, lamb

* For regions that are known for processed crops (i.e. wheat or corn), look for local wheatberries or fresh corn products (i.e. tortillas or muffins).

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3 Comments to "Travel Nationally, Eat locally"

  1. Maria says:

    New Mexico also deserves props for piñon nuts and its amazing chile; New Mexican-style food never tastes quite right to me outside of NM.

  2. Kate Gardner says:

    My fave: Hells Kitchen in Minneapolis. Plus, they have a beer-based bloody mary. It doesn’t sound good in theory but they are culinary geniuses.

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