Now that summer is in full swing, there’s no better way to celebrate than by getting outside and taking in the produce, baked goods, meat and flowers of your local farmers market. New Hampshire Eat Local Month is happening August 1-31, so we sat down to talk with NH Food Alliance Communications Coordinator Colleen Stewart to learn more about the over 100 partners throughout the state that are joining together to celebrate the power of food in bringing us together and encouraging the continued choice to eat and support local food.
Tell us more about the history of NH Eats Local and NH Eats Local Month.
Colleen: “NH Eats Local Month came together in the same way all of our work at the NH Food Alliance develops, through collaboration and networking. In 2006, the non-profit Seacoast Eat Local introduced Eat Local Challenges to their region, inspiring the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food to expand the challenge into a statewide campaign and celebration in 2009. In 2018, the NH Food Alliance partnered with Jen Risley, the Marketing Manager at the Monadnock Food Co-op, and began facilitating NH Eats Local Month. Together we grew the month’s celebrations and started to focus on the long-term goal of expanding NH Eats Local Month to a year-round initiative under NH Eats Local.”
What is NH Eats Local Month?
Colleen: “NH Eats Local Month is an August-long grassroots marketing initiative geared towards growing the eat local movement across New Hampshire by connecting Granite Staters directly to local farmers, restaurants, food producers, markets and farm stands, and other food-related businesses. Throughout August, we host and promote a variety of campaigns, activities, and events focused on local food to encourage everyone in New Hampshire to get out and not only shop for local food, but to learn about how it is grown and produced.
The backbone of this promotional initiative are our NH Eats Local Month Partners, the local food and farm businesses invested in amplifying our collective eat local messaging throughout the month. For 2021, we have nearly 200 small businesses and organizations from across the state to help to spread the NH Eats Local message. These businesses create amazing campaigns, events and activities in their own communities to inspire everyone eat local and learn about how important it is for New Hampshire to have a vibrant farm and food economy.
Throughout the rest of the year, NH Eats Local is an informational resource for Granite Staters to find, support, and eat local food from the Seacoast to the North Country. We gather Farmers’ Market guides and Pick Your Own lists, share stories about farmers, chefs, brewers, and other food producers, partner with local food-focused organizations and businesses to produce events, and just generally rally around New Hampshire’s food and farm economy in anyway we can.”
Tell us what Granite Staters can expect to see this month and each week.
Colleen: “We are so excited to bring Granite Staters a variety of opportunities and activities to eat local in their communities across the state for 2021 NH Eats Local Month.
To kickoff the month long celebration on Sunday, August 1, we are hosting NH’s Big Bite, a flash-mob style campaign asking Granite Staters to take a big bite out of the same local food on the same day— pancakes with NH maple syrup and/or local fruit. Eaters can attend an event, dine out at a local restaurant for pancakes, or whip up a batch at home using local ingredients and recipes from our partners. Then they can snap a photo of their big bite and share it on social media. Our partners have planned a few events, including virtual cooking classes with Co-op food stores, NH Food Bank’s Cooking Matters, and the Monadnock Food Co-op, as well as community pancake breakfasts at the Littleton Co-op in Littleton, Post and Beam Brewing in Peterborough, the Barnstead Farmers Market in Barnstead, Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm in Tamworth, and Sweet Beet Café in Bradford. More information about NH’s Big Bite can be found here.
Another easy and exciting way to get involved during NH Eats Local Month is through our weekly social media photo contest. Each week is themed and we’re asking eaters to go out and snap photos of themselves eating locally and post their photo on social media for a chance to win prizes from our NH Eats Local Month partners. We are so excited to have the editors at New Hampshire magazine as our guest judges this year! Learn more about the NH Eats Local Month Photo Contest here.
Beyond NH’s Big Bite and the NH Eats Local Month Photo Contest, we will be sharing content, including Farmers’ Market Guide, stories, food product maps and more, through our social media and newsletter list. We hope Granite Staters take NH Eats Local Month as inspiration and motivation to get out, support local food businesses, and celebrate the bounty of New Hampshire however they can.
Why eat local? How can eating locally make a difference?
Colleen: “Food connects us. It’s the thing we all have in common — everyone has to eat at least a couple times a day. But eating local food, grown and produced by the people you know in your community brings us together as Granite Staters in a more meaningful way. When we eat local, we celebrate our land, our history and traditions, and our communities, which provides a framework for how we care for our environment and continue to center equity in our lives. Eating local also feeds our sense of self-reliance and focuses our energy to ensure everyone has enough nutritious food to lead healthy lives. Eating locally affects every part of our lives, allowing us to live more mindfully and sustainably, while stimulating New Hampshire’s farm and food economy and creating a prosperous future for all.”