For Immediate Release - November 08, 2011

Massachusetts Agriculture Officials Celebrate Local Food and Farming this Holiday Season

Farm raised turkeys, cranberries, cheese, wine are amongst the many locally produced items available for your holiday table

BOSTON – November 08, 2011 – The Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) today announced it is encouraging consumers to use ingredients raised, produced and processed in Massachusetts for their holiday meals.

“Massachusetts growers and specialty food producers offer a tasty range of seasonal items, perfect for your holiday table,” said DAR Commissioner Scott J. Soares. “Buying local all season long promotes Massachusetts businesses and stimulates the economy across the Commonwealth.”

DAR’s MassGrown & Fresher website offers features that will help you build your grocery list. Use the site’s Google map tool to search for all of the trimmings for your holiday table – from farm raised turkeys, seasonal vegetables still available at farmers’ markets, farmstead cheese and local wines.

Turkeys -- Make sure you order your centerpiece this holiday season soon – a “fresh dressed” local MassGrown & Fresher bird – available from many local turkey farms across the state. Some growers are offering turkeys roasted to order complete with gravy and stuffing. Massachusetts farmers produce approximately 18,000 turkeys annually, valued at $2.7 million, including the sale of whole turkeys, gravies, turkey pies, and other related products.

Farmers’ Markets -- Don’t worry, the season for Massachusetts grown fruits and vegetables is not over. A number of farmers’ markets will be open through the week of Thanksgiving. You can find seasonal vegetables like cranberries, winter squash and winter greens – along with wine, cheese, baked goods and a variety of Massachusetts-made specialty foods.

Farmstead Cheese -- Dairy farms around the Commonwealth produce more than 600,000 pounds of farmstead cheeses, as well as barrel churned butter. Over 24,500 gallons of milk from more than 400 cows and 180 goats go into making local varieties of camembert, blue, cheddar, Gouda, chevre and other cheeses.

Wine -- To add a unique local flavor, toast the holidays with wine made with Massachusetts-grown grapes and other fruit such as cranberries, apples, raspberries, strawberries and pears. There are 26 wineries opened to the public – producing about 200,000 gallons of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and other varieties annually.

Local meals -- For those who would rather eat than cook, an increasing number of restaurants are sourcing food from nearby farms. No matter where you are in the state, there is sure to be a chef cooking up a feast using fruits, greens or meats that were grown or raised by a local farmer.

Use DAR’s Local Holiday Food Buying Guide for more local holiday food ideas and seasonal recipes.

DAR logo DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at  twitter.com/agcommishsoares.