We all have that person in our lives who has taken to the local-food movement with gusto––our locavore friend, that foodie relative, the office cook. But perhaps you’re still struggling with what to get that person this holiday season. Well you’re in luck, because we’ve compiled a list of presents perfect for placing under the tree. All you need to do is seek out your local food market and get shopping!
1. Farmers’ Market Gift Cards and Baskets
Although it may seem like cheating, let’s be honest, everyone loves a gift card. While you might not find gift cards at every farmers’ market, market gift cards are starting to become more common. If your local farmers’ market doesn’t yet offer these tokens of good will, consider buying an item or two from several different vendors to make your own local market sampler, full of cheese, jams, breads, soaps and other products offered by local farmers.
2. CSA Subscription
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, community supported agriculture (CSA) simply refers to a subscription to a farm where the customer buys the produce, eggs or meat upfront and picks it up periodically throughout the year, usually every week or every month. It’s possible that the locavore in your life has already joined a vegetable CSA, but buying them a year’s subscription to it could be a great gift idea. Or there might be other CSAs in your town, such as a cheese, meat, wine, beer or local-flower CSA, that could be a nice complement to their vegetable subscription. Look online and at the markets to see what’s available nearby.
3. Cook Books
Local bookstores are line with so many excellent books that will reach right to the heart of your foodie’s world. Check out titles by famed chefs, such as Heritage by Charleston’s Sean Brock or Prune by New York’s Gabrielle Hamilton. To stick with the local-food theme, check with nearby restaurants and bookstores to see if anyone local has produced a cookbook––you’ll probably be surprised at what you find.
4. Cooking Class
Cooking classes are a somewhat underrated gift because as much as people may love to take one, they aren’t likely to buy one for themselves. Keep an eye out in newspapers and ask local restaurants, chefs and even butcheries if they have any classes coming up. With just a little research, you should discover quite a few around the holidays. And they’re more fun with a partner, so don’t feel guilty when you buy yourself a spot in the class, too.
5. Local Tastings
Beer, wine, coffee or cheese tastings allow enthusiasts of a particular type of food learn how it’s made, meet the producers and develop skills involved in tasting it. Search online and keep an eye out for flyers on community boards. No matter where you live, there’s likely to be a local winery, brewery, cheese maker or even coffee shop offering tastings nearby.
6. Local Farm Tours
Several farms these days offer farm tours where a customer can spend a few hours walking around a farm and listening to the farmer talk about their operation. Some farms offer tours around lambing, goat kidding or calving season so families can come out and see the baby animals. Others offer opportunities for people to come work, learning to butcher an animal, build a barn or cabin, or harvest a field. If a farm doesn’t offer public tours, it will likely make an exception with a little persuasion. Contact your favorite local farm and offer to buy a farm tour.
7. Local Crafts
The word “local” for the locavore can extend well beyond just food and restaurants. If you are trying to think of something to help this person at home or in the kitchen, consider seeking out local potters and artisans for wooden spoons, bowls, candles made with local beeswax, hand-forged knives, anything you think they might be able to use with pride, knowing it came from a local vendor.
8. Pickling and Canning Gear
All that’s typically required to pickle or can food are some jars, a large pot of boiling water and some tongs, but there are plenty of fun accessories available to make the experience easier, tastier or more fun. Shop around and see what kinds of different jars, pressure canners, specially designed pickling spices and pickling books you can find.
9. Fermentation Gear
Fermentation is a hot topic these days, and though it doesn’t require a lot of gear to ferment something, there are a few helpful items that your foodie friend might enjoy receiving—or receiving more of. For example, air-locking lids and jars that let gas out but not in, are very convenient in the fermentation world. Also, plain old mason jars make a great gift for the fermento in your life, as does a nice antique crock.
10. Beer or Winemaking Kits
If you’re lucky enough to live near a beer or winemaking supply store––and you’d be surprised by how common there are––go in and ask about beer and winemaking kits depending on the expertise level of the person for whom you’re buying. Also, see if there are any local ingredients available––local hops for beer, honey for mead, fruit for wine, et cetera––to throw in.
About the Author: Jesse Frost is a Kentucky farmer, blogger and author. He and his wife run a small, off-the-grid farm in southern Kentucky called Rough Draft Farmstead, where they raise vegetables and livestock naturally.