Valentine’s Day is a holiday made for the buy local movement. From California to New England, small businesses offer incredible gifts that allow consumers to buy locally made, locally sourced items. Not only are these items good for the local economy, but they are also better for the environment, and, in the case of edible gifts like Valentine’s Day treats, they may even be better for your health.
In a search for Valentine’s Day gifts, Vermont is, perhaps, the best place to start. The state has a reputation as a haven for foodies, thanks to the support of its residents and public institutions like Vermont Public Radio. It is home to countless farmers’ markets and farm-to-table restaurants. If a bunch of organic carrots doesn’t seem like a romantic Valentine’s Day gesture, try one of the state’s artisanal bakers or confectioners, like Bradford’s Red Kite Candy.
Red Kite Candy is a family owned and operated candy company, which was established by Mike and Elaine McCabe in Thetford in 2009. The Good Food Awards finalist offers a wide range of confectionery delights for Valentine’s Day, including its signature caramels, which are available at local retailers, online and, more recently, at Whole Foods Markets throughout New England. All of the candies produced at Red Kite Candy use locally-sourced organic ingredients, and all are GMO-free. The quality of these candies is quickly becoming nationally recognized, thanks to inclusions in holiday gift guides from the New York Times and other publications.
Traveling south from New England, the next stop is Virginia. The state, long known as the mother of presidents, is quickly becoming known for something else. Today, the state is a leading producer of wine and artisanal cheese, which, when paired, make an ideal Valentine’s Day gift. According to Edible Blue Ridge, a creation of Natalie Ermann Russell, who is Martha Stewart Living magazine’s former editor, cheesemakers in the state offer a multitude of award-winning cheeses. From Caramont Farm in the Piedmont to Meadow Creek Dairy deep in the heart of southwestern Virginia, you will have no problem finding the perfect cheese to pair with your Virginia wine on Valentine’s Day.
When it comes to Virginia wine, you may have trouble picking just one for your Valentine’s Day gift. The state is now home to hundreds of wineries, many of which produce wines made only from Virginia-grown grapes. One stand-out winery is Michael Shaps Wineworks, located only a short drive from Charlottesville. Established in 2007, the winery has quickly risen to a place among the leading wineries in the country, helped by its multiple gold medal wins at the Virginia Wine Governor’s Cup Awards. Even after you manage to narrow your choice down to one winery, you may still have difficulty choosing your Valentine’s Day wine, as many of the wineries, Michael Shaps Wineworks included, have won not only multiple gold medals, but also gold medals for multiple varieties.
From Virginia, it is difficult to know where to head first. Wisconsin’s cheesemaking heritage offers a wide range of delights for Valentine’s Day, including bries, goudas, asiadas, and many more from some of the nation’s most celebrated cheesemakers. Meanwhile, if you’re in search of a more potent Valentine’s Day gift, you can take the advice offered by the Atlantic and turn your attention to Louisiana and rum. In New Orleans, you will find Old New Orleans rum produced by Celebration Distillation. The distillery creates its celebrated rum varieties from locally-sourced molasses on a batch-by-batch basis to ensure premium quality.
On the West Coast, you have endless opportunities to buy local on Valentine’s Day. With the passage of California’s Homemade Food Act in 2012, countless local businesses have sprung up across the state, many of which have quickly built reputations for producing some of the best locally sourced and produced foods and drinks in the country. A Zagat article lists 10 of the most promising artisans, and Valentine’s Day gifts from any of the 10 would be welcomed by any buy local supporter. The list includes products ranging from breads to candies to coffees, offering something for everyone’s valentine.
While Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to buy local, it is important to remember that every day presents an opportunity to support the buy local movement and the members of your community who work so hard to produce some of America’s best products.
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