By Amy Zarichnak
Over the past thirty years, we have been inching towards locally sourced food, organic foods, holistic health remedies, and a much more natural approach to living in harmony with our environment. These are good things; our food supply was originally structured in the early part of the 20th century in order to feed a burgeoning population that was quickly outgrowing its ability to provide food for the masses. The protocols put in place to mass-produce food – genetic modification, use of pesticides, etc. -- were done with good intentions. However, we now know that using these tools to increase food production are causing health issues, food allergies, disease, and contamination of our soil and water supply. Mass food suppliers are resisting change and trying to challenge those of us who are aware that they are slowly poisoning the population in the United States because it would cost them billions of dollars to turn this ship around and use natural ways of eliminating pests and growing crops.
As a result, eating a salad is no longer healthy unless you can afford all-organic, non-GMO ingredients.
We are in the midst of a slow dawning about the toxicity of the food available in the United States, and a slow but steady uprising is occurring. We are being forced to make more conscious, informed choices, and in so doing, we need to demand changes to the way our food is grown and supplied.
Shopping at your local grocery store chain continues to put money into large companies’ pockets, which perpetuates the cycle and allows these companies to continue to thrive and supply what we now know is tainted food. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, which basically means I am someone who demands delicious, high-quality food at every meal but who owes too much in student loans to afford it, I have pondered exactly how to go about securing fresh, safe food at prices that I can actually afford. The answer, I’ve realized, is all around us: Eat local. This also supports the economic strength of our local communities and takes power away from mass food producers who refuse to change their farming habits that are adversely affecting our health, our communities, and the earth.
Local food costs somewhere between mass-produced and organic, and most of the time, is organic, although please note that “local” and “organic” are not synonymous. We are so lucky in the Hudson Valley, as it has been a mecca for local food for years and we have a plethora of local and artisan delights from which to choose.
So, where should we go? There are literally dozens of websites that outline hundreds of locally produced goods and services. Here is a smattering of business selling locally produced items that are worth a try:
Mother Earth’s Storehouse – Locations in Poughkeepsie, Kingston and Saugerties – Locally owned and operated by brothers Kevin and Mike Schneider, this is a one-stop shop for all things natural. Featuring local, seasonal produce from local farmers procured through a local distributor, they aim to supply only certified organic produce. While not all produce is certified, it is all local and they only purchase what is in season for maximum flavor and freshness. They sell no conventional produce at all. They also sell locally produced body care products and herbal tinctures that are all natural and/or organic. For more information, hours, and addresses and phone numbers for each location, visit www.motherearthstorehouse.com.
Barb’s Butchery – Open since December 2014, Barb’s Butchery is a nose-to-tail grocer featuring chicken and poultry from Fazio Farms, beef, pork and lamb from Meiller Farms, lamb from Dashing Hill Farms, and veal from Cream Hill Farms, all within a 200-mile radius of the shop. If you can conceive it, they can cut it, and Barb’s also offers a small weekly menu and house-made lunchmeats and charcuterie, including beef stick and jerky products. They do limited catering and participate in local events as a vendor. Firefighters and police officers always receive 15% off. Located at 69 Spring Street in Beacon, they can also be reached at 845-831-8050. Hours are Tuesday – Friday 11am – 7:30pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 6pm. Closed Mondays. www.barbsbutchery.com
Quattro’s Poultry Farm and Market – This is a market with urban sensibilities in a rural setting providing meat and poultry from their own farms. Offering top quality, prime cuts of beef, as well as venison, pheasant, squab, duck, chicken, turkey, and other game meats, Quattro’s animals are fed only high-quality, locally grown feeds that yield a natural, free range product. A variety of craft beers are now being offered, and the shelves are full of local and imported cheese, vinegars, olive oils, and other sundries. Quattro’s also has a hunting store on-site. They are located at 2251 U.S. 44 in Pleasant Valley, and can be reached at 845-635-2018. Visit www.quattrosfarm.com for more information. Closed Tuesdays and limited Sunday hours.
Tuthilltown Spirits – Everything in moderation, right? Located at 14 Grist Mill Lane in Gardiner, NY, Tuthilltown Spirits Farm Distillery is New York’s first whiskey distillery since prohibition. Offering varieties of vodka, gin, bourbon, whiskey, bitters, and liqueurs, Tuthilltown sources all ingredients locally and all spirits are made by hand, one batch at a time. Their liquor has been winning awards for years and they even feature a restaurant on-site that can also accommodate the special events in your life. For more information on this local tourist destination, visit www.tuthilltown.com or call 845-255-4151.
Nature’s Pantry – With locations in Fishkill and New Windsor, Nature’s Pantry is committed to selling products produced in the Hudson Valley. Produce is antibiotic-, chemical-, insecticide-, pesticide-, and herbicide-free, and they call themselves an “alternative grocery store” offering products that are not wax-coated or genetically modified like traditional grocery stores. They do stipulate that some of their more exotic fruits and vegetables are imported from trustworthy sources and marked as such with the country of origin plainly labeled on the product. Offering groceries, produce, supplements, bulk, and health and beauty items, they are family-owned and support local civil, school, and volunteer organizations. Visit their website at www.naturespantryhv.com for addresses and phone numbers for each location.
The Hudson Valley has abundant resources for locally produced meats, produce, and other products, and one only needs to do a search on the internet to bring up literally hundreds of local options. Embarking on a new way to shop and eat can always feel like a large undertaking when you already have your shopping and cooking routine in place. However, in the interest of health and the economic stability of the region, it pays to explore your natural food options and understand the food supply chain in a more comprehensive way. Eating healthy doesn’t need to be exorbitantly expensive, and local products are just that – local to wherever you live in the Hudson Valley and no further away than most regular grocery stores. Choose one of the stores above or research ones in your town. Over time, you will understand that the value of spending a few pennies more for high-quality, organic and local food is evident in your waistline, your overall health, and your palate.
Amy Zarichnak is a career changer with over 20 years’ experience in marketing and sales. She graduated from Penn State University with a B.A. in communications in 1993 and from The Culinary Institute of America in July 2014 with an A.O.S. in Culinary Arts. She currently works for Taste of Home magazine conducting live cooking shows in the New York and New England area. Look for her shows coming to a town near you this fall!