(Family Features) - One's upbringing or hometown no doubt influence the person he or she becomes - accents, favorite pastimes and, of course, favorite homemade meals and recipes. But in today's society, where the click of a mouse instantly connects us to any part of the world, we sometimes miss out on the wonders that are in our own backyard. Reconnect with your New England heritage and start by exploring the local flavors and tastes of the Northeast.
Local Food Offerings
The trend of going local has emerged in the past few years across the country. Consumers are celebrating their roots by eating local foods and engaging in related regionally-based activities. With the flavors of the Northeast, New Englanders have good reason to jump on this trend.
- According to the University of Maine, Wild Blueberry Cooperative Extension, Maine has devoted 60,000 acres to growing wild blueberries, producing the largest amount of wild blueberries in the world.
- The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association cites Massachusetts as the number one cranberry producer in the country.
It's no surprise, with statistics like these, that blueberries are the second most popular berry in America and that cranberries are a staple ingredient in New England meals. Both of these fruits are grown and harvested throughout New England and can easily be incorporated into mealtime or snacks; remember that blueberries are best picked in August, cranberries in November and apples from August through late October. To locate a local apple orchard or berry farm, visit LocalHarvest.org or speak with someone at your local farmer's market.
After visiting the local farms, make it a family affair and try some New England homemade favorites. A Maine blueberry-oatmeal muffin or fruit smoothie with fresh berries provides a satisfying, New England taste that will jump-start any morning.
For those who have a sweet tooth, maple farms and sugar houses across Vermont and New Hampshire also offer tastings and tours during sugaring season, a fun and educational alternative to a Saturday outing in February, March or April. Most sugar houses also sell the fresh maple syrup at stores on location; bring home a fresh bottle and add a New England twist to pancakes or French toast.
On-the-go New Englanders can grab a New England-made Colombo® yogurt for a convenient and healthy snack alternative to candy or chips. The yogurt was first created in 1929 by Rose Colombosian in her Andover, Massachusetts kitchen, and has been enjoyed by New Englanders ever since. Building off its New England heritage, Colombo has also just renamed its blueberry flavored yogurt "Newbury Blueberry," after the well-known Boston street.
Producing another form of dairy product, the creameries of New England offer a relaxing way to indulge in the variety of cheeses produced in the Northeast, such as Vermont cheddar cheese. Most of the creameries are family-owned, with roots dating back to the early 19th century, and offer tours and tastings. Local creamery information is available at NewEnglandCheese.com.